Monday, February 28, 2011

...but why do they call him "Oscar?"

Wondered that for a long time....

In the interests of full disclosure, I saw a grand total of two of this year's best picture nominees, "Inception" and "Toy Story 3," the latter with my granddaughter.

I didn't see the entire Academy Awards broadcast last night, but read about the award winners whose presentations I missed and saw just about the last two hours of the ceremony.  Just have a few observations....

Every few years, the producers say they're taking the telecast in a "new direction" and that means one thing--attracting younger viewers.  This year that was attempted by hiring actors James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host the proceedings.  Franco was about as he often is in public settings that I've seen....detached cool, as though he's looking for the door while grinning incessantly.  He's not problematic in that way, just a little off, if you know what I mean.  Hathaway was her usual luminous presence, and acted much like a normal person who's thrust into that position would act....excited and sometimes actually in awe of some of the presenters who have enjoyed long and prosperous careers.

In the earlier part of the telecast Melissa Leo and Christian Bale both won for their supporting performances in "The Fighter," so I missed Leo's F-bomb (which was bleeped successfully) and Bale's near-breakdown when thanking his wife and daughter.  And unfortunately I also missed Aaron Sorkin's acceptance for adapted screenplay for "The Social Network" (didn't I hear that it was going to sweep the major awards when it came out?  Hmm....) and David Seidler, a former stutterer who wrote and won for the original screenplay for "The King's Speech," about King George VI's struggle to overcome his own speech impediment.  Really sorry to have missed Sorkin, since I'm a huge fan of his TV work.

The major awards held no real surprises, as all of the favorites won.  And if you're like me, you wonder why the Oscar voters all gravitate toward English period pieces like "The King's Speech" when there's a good one out....past examples of this include "Howard's End," "The Remains of the Day," and "Shakespeare in Love."  At the end, when it came time to award Best Picture, Steven Spielberg (who often presents that award, having won in that category only once) mentioned several past winners but also mentioned a number of great movies that were nominated but didn't win (like "Citizen Kane," which most people assume won the year it was nominated).  So "The King's Speech" won that award, as well.  Safe bet for the Oscar voters, who were not ready to award a movie about gay women ("The Kids are All Right"), mental tresspassing ("Inception," my personal favorite), a remake of an old Western ("True Grit"), or most of all, a movie about Facebook ("The Social Network".

In the end, the motion picture industry is pretty traditional in who it recognizes for these prestigious awards, while turning out mostly crap that is aimed at 14-year-old boys.  Interesting paradox, eh?

Last time I really cared what won which awards was the year the third installment of "The Lord of the Rings" was up for something like eleven awards, and won them all.

So, next year, don't be surprised if the producers of this telecast try something different in hopes of getting you to watch (again)....

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