Review: The Oscars

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.

• The Oscars: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!
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Photo Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

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  • Nick

    Guess I’m easily amused. I thought Martin and Baldwin rocked it in the opening monologue…and anytime throughout the show when I happened to awake from snoozeville to catch them. How great is Meryl Streep? Seems like such a nice, gracious lady with a killer sense of humor.

  • Manju

    I didnt’mind Martin and Baldwin either, but I agree that the show is dull and endless. I was entertained in some way, and only because it’s a one year event I keep tuning in. But they could spice it up a bit. I was so happy that NPH opened with song, but the show (aside from some kick-a dance moves) couldn’t live up to it’s promise.

  • athena606

    the show is definitely way way way to long. but i like Martin/Baldwin banter they did better then i expected honestly.

  • You missed one huge fail: Farrah Fawcett was left off the memoriam.

    And by the way, if they were really concerned about time, they would have cut the dribble that was shared before the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees. Why should they each deserve five-minute speeches when they’re already up for one of the biggest awards of the night and their getting recognition that way? That certainly could have been cut. And had it been, maybe at the end of the night they would have had time to list all of the Best Picture nominees, instead of just blurting out the winner because they were out of time.

  • I thought Steve and Alec were great–it was other stuff that dragged the show down. For example–reading all the Best Actor/Actress names at the beginning, then having a 5 minute speech about each one, then reading the names one more time before announcing the winner–and we already knew who was going to win! The dance number was also way too long.

  • Nick

    Yep, either cut the fat (all the crap mentioned above) or start the show an hour earlier. It’s insane that we sit thru 3-hrs of “Best Short” and other stuff no one gives a flip about….only to have the final three awards–THE BIGGIES–rushed thru as an afterthought. How has this not been addressed by the Acah-demy before? It’s gotten to ridiculous proportions.

  • Kyle

    I thought they did awesome too, So i guess I dont agree w/ this review?
    It was a little on the long side so I tuned out during the middle part, but the end was great! So happy for Sandra, and Jeff Bridges, maaann. lol

  • bws

    I set my DVR to go 90 minutes long. It always goes AT LEAST 30 minutes long. I thought Sandra Bullock had the best acceptance speech of the night – funny and nice, a rare combination.

    In terms of length complaints, it is what it is. I don’t have a problem with it. Everyone knows what they’re getting into here so it’s not a shock so I feel any anger is misplaced. I didn’t get the feeling of too much “fat” that needed to be trimmed either. Really, the biggest issue is the commercials which are frequent and long and wreck the flow of the night. But that’s the kind of thing that’s expected when you have 30 million eyeballs. I suppose it would be better if they advertised it as 4 hours and went 5 minutes over instead of 3.5 hours that went 35 minutes over.

  • buzmeg

    Sandra Bullock should have sent some love to the real Michael Oher not just the Tuohy family.