You Be the Critic: The Oscars

hugh jackman oscars

I loved it… I really really loved it.

Okay, so ‘love’ might be a tiny bit of an overstatement. But can you blame me? We’re talking Hollywood’s most glamorous night, is not overstatement what it’s all about?

With apologies in advanced to notorious Hugh Jackman-hater Dr. Cox (of SCRUBS fame), from his over-the-top opening number complete with craigslist dancers, a radiant Anne Hathaway and the hilarious confession that he has yet to, but is meaning to see The Reader (same here!), Hugh Jackman brought an energy and enthusiasm to the Kodak Theater that hasn’t been scene since the early days of Billy Crystal.

Adding to the magic were those always unexpected moments that have already become a part of Oscar lore, including: Philippe Petit, the subject of last night’s Oscar winning documentary Man on Wire flawlessly balancing the little gold statue on his chin following his film’s acceptance speech. The whistle heard round the world courtesy of Kate Winslet’s father as she scanned the audience in search of him during her own Best Actress acceptance speech. The manner in which the Ledger family accepted Heath’s much-deserved Best Supporting Actor award with grace and dignity. And the always welcome moments of levity from the likes of Seth Rogan, James Franco, Janusz Kaminski, Jack Black, Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller channeling Joaquin Phoenix alongside an absolutely stunning Natalie Portman.

Of course, with three plus hours to fill, last night’s Oscars certainly were not devoid of low points. Or to be more specific: Queen Latifah’s beautiful rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You” failed to put a stop to the audience’s insistence on clapping for their favorite dearly departed Hollywood type during the traditional ‘In Memoriam.’ The tediousness of the awards for sound editing, which with apologies to those in the business, should be relegated to the previous week’s Sci-Tech Ceremony. And of course, the night’s most questionable decision in which previous Oscar winners payed tribute to the year’s nominees with a few choice remarks. Some of which, like Robert De Niro praising Sean Penn worked, and some, as in the case of Nicole Kidman talking to Angelina Jolie, well, not so much.

But all in all, a great night. A celebration of the films we loved. And a reminder, thanks to winner’s such as Penelope Cruz, Milk writer Dustin Lance Black and the entire effusive cast of Slumdog Millionare that as cheesy as it sounds, film does indeed have the power to change lives and bring people together.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to iTunes to buy the Slumdog Millioniare soundtrack! Jai Ho!

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  • I enjoyed, though it did get slow in the middle. I thought Hugh Jackman did a great job–made the Oscars much better than they had been in recent years. Very entertaining. My main complaint was the way that they introduced the actor nominees. These actors get complimented by the press all the time, so why do we need to restate their acting resumes before nominating? I’d much rather SEE their work in clips. Plus, it just made it that much worse for other nominees, where this is their night to shine, that got upstaged by crappy presenters–Ben Stiller and cinematography, anyone?

    But otherwise, a very fun night.

  • Linda B.

    Yeah, I really didn’t like how the acting categories were presented. Most of the actors were obviously reading off of prompters and it didn’t seem that genuine. I did like what Shirley Maclaine said to Anne Hathaway though – about pursuing her voice. That seemed sincere.

  • Ace

    I completely agree about not liking the way the acting awards were presented. For most of us that haven’t had time to see these films yet, it is nice to see a segment of the work the person is nominated for!

    And can we talk about how silly it was of the show’s director to keep cutting to Brangelina during Aniston’s time on stage? Glad that none of them gave people an excuse to analyse what they did.

    Loved Hugh Jackman though. Pretty sure he could do no wrong :).

  • TVFan

    Dear TVA,

    Agree with you on Hugh Jackman to a point. The opening number was great, the middle moulin rouge oscar song mash was a little too much song and dance for my liking. And as you said, the new presenter format was hit-or-miss.

    B+ on the whole with credit to the producers for at the very least trying something new.

  • Ashley

    I didn’t like the presentation of the acting awards, in particular Best Supporting Actress (but for pretty selfish reasons 🙂 ). Firstly, Penelope Cruz was the one actress I didn’t want to win. I don’t dislike her at all, and I thought she was sweet in Volver; I just like the other women much better (Adams is my absolute favorite and Tomei is one of the best in the business).

    My only consolation was that – if Cruz won – she would be given the award by her boyfriend, last year’s Best Supporting Actor Javier Bardem. That would have been a great moment. We were cheated out of that great moment!

    That being said, there was also something kind of cheesy and maybe self-congralutory about the whole “Welcome to the club” aspect of the presentations. I know the Oscars are all about self-congratulation! But still, this felt a little different.

  • Ashley

    I meant to write “self-congratulatory about the whole ‘Welcome to the club’ aspect of the presentations.”

  • I actually liked the basic concept of the previous acting winners presenting the current acting nominees. The problem was it dragged on and stole momentum from the show. I would also agree with others that seeing a clip from the movie would help for those who haven’t seen them.

    Maybe some sort of hybrid presentation method would work. Maybe the past winners could keep their verbal summaries much shorter while muted video from the movie plays on a screen behind them. Then when the presenter is done talking, a very quick montage of clips are shown.

    I liked that the winners were given time to complete their speeches without music interrupting them. Now, I just wish actors would learn to give quicker speeches to help justify giving them the time.

    I liked how they grouped similar Oscars together and tried to order them by the stages of development of a movie, but I think giving Will Smith four or five awards to present on his own was a little much for one presenter.

    I liked the Best Song performances and how they were condensed & combined into one medley. But, aren’t there usually five songs in that category instead of three?

    The In Memoriam part was so late in the show, I was worried they were going to leave it out. I’m glad they left it in, but I wish the images had filled the screen like usual. The almost MTV-style camerawork focusing on various monitors hanging in the auditorium caused people’s names to be cut off or too small to read.

    I liked that they presented the two lead acting awards in between Best Director and Best Picture, especially since the same movie tends to get both and this year the same five movies were nominated for both.

    As far as Hugh Jackman, he was definitely pretty good, but he didn’t seem to have a whole lot to do other than the opening, one or two musical numbers, and the closing.

  • Best Oscars Ever. There, I said it.

    Were there some issues, of course… but this was leaps and bounds above previous years. And the ten people I was watching with all agreed.

    We *loved* the previous winners individually recognizing the nominees. While some of the pairings were odd, moments like DeNiro/Penn and Maclaine/Hathaway were golden. And the laughing fit we had when Michael Douglas proclaimed Frank Langella the best Nixon ever NEXT TO ANTHONY HOPKINS! GOLD!!!!

    When it was over, we all sat around thinking…. wow, this is the first time I wasn’t tired and bored by the end. Five Stars!

  • Steve

    “I loved it… I really really loved it.”

    Gayest thing you’ve ever said. And there was some stiff competition.

  • allie

    Hugh Jackman, sigh…. He’s wonderful. I loved that you could see him cracking up in parts and trying to hold it together. For those who criticise him as being “cheesy”, well that was the point! They didn’t want boring and stuffy or comedians who can only crack mean jokes. They wanted entertainment this year and that is what Hugh delivered. Deborah is one lucky lady! The acceptance speech by Heath’s family was wonderful. (On a side note, I was suprised that Anne Hathaway could sing. I thought her acting was terrible, but she can certainly hold a tune).

  • thenewwine

    I was appalled at the “In Memorium” segment! Queen Latifah’s song was beautiful but the moving camera work and distance from the screens made it nearly impossible to see even the names of the dearly departed.
    And where was Heath?? As well as Majel Barrett?? Who was the first person?
    Couldn’t see! Couldn’t tell!

  • thenewwine,
    I too was wondering where Heath was in the ‘In Memoriam’ segment.

    jeffrey bryan,
    great point about Michael Douglas’ inadvertent shot at Anthony Hopkins

  • wing tezuka

    i remebered Heath was in last year’s “in memoriam” clips

  • Because Heath actually died before the 2008 Oscars, he was actually featured in the “In Memoriam” of last years Oscars.

  • Ace

    I think the Queen Latifah thing was an attempt to keep people from clapping. Which is seriously rude when they clap really loudly for one person and not another, talk about a weird popularity contest. But clearly it didn’t work.

    And yes, Heath was in last year’s memorial.

  • grumpyoldman

    Since none of those movies played anywhere around here, I watched the NASCAR race instead.