By: Aleks Chan
Other than the delightful surprise of The Hurt Locker’s Best Picture win, THE 82ND ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS proceeded as expected. Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Mo’Nique, and Christoph Waltz all took home trophies as expected. The awards show, still as bloated, uneven, and draggy as it has been the past few years, failed to be offset by hosts Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, who after a strained, set ‘em up, knock-it-down opening bit, were largely absent from the ceremonies.
And after denying it in the press, Neil Patrick Harris (who should have been anointed host) gave another musical opening performance that wasn’t as spectacular as his Emmy number, but was perfectly pleasant, if shouty (forgive me, American Idol is back). Navigating what proved to be an elaborate stage setup, Harris, along with gracious, luminous acceptance speeches from Mo’Nique and Kathryn Bigelow, were among the show’s brighter moments, however few there were. Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr.’s presentation for Best Original Screenplay was fun, concise, but respectful – all things Oscar night should be more of.
The intent of expanding the Best Picture race to 10 nominees was that by allowing films with wider audiences and higher grosses to be represented, more viewers would turn into the telecast. So films like The Blind Side, who in previous awards seasons wouldn’t have a prayer of getting any kind of recognition when competing with the smaller prestige films that have dominated the awards as of late, made the cut.
As of this writing, the numbers have yet to be reported, but I’ll surmise a ratings bump is a lock – whether the show can keep up with the momentum is uncertain. What needs to be changed about the Oscars, in such a way that would attract more eyeballs on a Sunday night, shouldn’t just be about the films being nominated, but the awards show as an event itself. They run too long (even after setting my poor DVR to stop recording 30 minutes after the scheduled time, it still cut off The Hurt Locker’s win) and probably because too many categories are covered – as unfortunate and cynical as it is, we aren’t watching for Best Sound Mixing. And those acceptance speeches, no matter what ruling seems to be in effect, never fail to delay the proceedings. (This could also be solved by eliminating more categories from the show, which would allow for the extra 10 minutes some actors end up taking.) Essentially, it’s boring and it takes forever. There has to be another way to do this so that great films can be honored without being dreadfully dull.
Worse, Baldwin and Martin as co-hosts were strangely chemistry-less. When calling out nominees, “Oh, look who’s here!” style, followed by some pithy, predictable rib, it was like watching two veteran performers mugging it up for the camera. (The trite shout-out to Avatar with the animated sprites was nearly unforgivable.) The cuts to the piercing, stoic face of Up in the Air nominee George Clooney were hilarious, if only because his expression seemed to only read: I don’t buy this for one second. Me either. Grade: C
And for the willing or interested: let’s figure out how to make the Oscars more enjoyable. Send your suggestions to alekschan.thetvaddict [at]gmail [dot] com by Sunday, March 7 with “Oscars Suggestions” in the subject line and I’ll compile the best ideas here on the site for us to discuss further. Also, in the event that your suggestion is posted and you do not wish to be identified under the name associated with your email address, provide a pseudonym you’d be more comfortable with.
Photo Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC