Oscars 2010 Post-Mortem

When the Oscars are over for another year, it’s legitimately difficult to care about them, isn’t it?

Here’s my post mortem, though, for those playing at home.

Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were fine hosts, they made some good jokes, but ultimately they seemed to melt into the background. For the most part, the Academy Awards seem to be content in recent years to simply have the presenters come on stage, do their little spiel, and then have people accept the awards.

The people who accept the awards, of course, are allowed on stage for less time than the presenters were. In this case see Ben Stiller, who dragged his one note joke on into eternity.

Every year I start with hope, but at a certain point in the show it flags and I just want it to be over. This year was no exception.

I don’t remember when the Oscars were last a fine example of pageantry. The firmest Oscar memory in my mind is 1999, when Billy Crystal performed a song summarizing all of the Best Picture nominees. Titanic was Gilligan’s Island; there was some funny As Good As It Gets jokes and, in my mind, Helen Hunt accepted her award in the “house dress” that she wore out to dinner with Jack in that movie.

To the results? The first result of the night was the best. Christoph Waltz was a gracious victor and a great choice for Best Supporting Actor.

Mo’Nique did well for herself, although I don’t know what politics she was talking about. It is possible that she was referring to the fact she said earlier that she didn’t care if she won an Oscar. Of course, everyone says that, and then they actually win the Oscar and it’s the best thing ever.

Jeff Bridges was not a surprise in the slightest; everyone is suggesting that it was more of a career win than it was an actual award for services rendered in Crazy Heart. One could argue that Bridges was winning because Mickey Rourke didn’t last year (and I can tell you, Rourke would have been a hell of a lot more gracious winner than Sean Penn was). I would have preferred Colin Firth to win, but that’s largely because I felt A Single Man was a more powerful and emotional film – driven by a more personal performance.

Wait, those are perfect reasons for Firth to have won. But I don’t begrudge Bridges. The Dude abides, etc.

On the other hand, I can begrudge Sandra Bullock, who deserved none of what she got. If The Blind Side amounted to more than a lame aspirational true story about down home white folk who help a “coloured boy”, then maybe. But it didn’t. You don’t give an Academy Award for the performance that might have been, you give it for the performance that was.

If Gabourey Sidibe fades into obscurity and Sandra Bullock comes off her most financially successful year ever to make more crap movies, then I’m going to be more than a little angry. Carey Mulligan, on the other hand, has already lined herself up with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, but I don’t hold much hope for that. Pixie’s gonna go far.

Up was the obvious choice for Best Animated Film, and that’s precisely what it received. For some reason I got all emotional at the acceptance speech for it. The score also won, and the winner gave an inspirational “believe in yourself! If you have a supportive array of family and friends, you can go far!”

So the rest of the show was devoid of surprise. Precious got its best adaptation nod, and best original screenplay went to … The Hurt Locker? What? Say what you will about The Hurt Locker, but it’s no goddamn tour de force of writing. I know that I consider Inglourious Basterds the absolute best of all the films on offer, but it definitely deserved screenwriting over The Hurt Locker. It has a quote at the start, and then it slightly obscures it at the end. Way deep!

But no, it does not soar at any point, and the script doesn’t reflect that.

Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker were the ultimate winners of the night, with the orchestra absolutely unforgivably blasting out “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” after Bigelow’s director speech. There’s a degree of “in your face, Cameron!” about it, but I think that The Hurt Locker was ultimately a movie with little in the way of personality. Unfortunately, Barbra presented it in a way that aligned the win very firmly with identity politics, which means that Bigelow will forever be tainted with the association of “first woman director”.

Hopefully she’ll be able to make a great movie to chase it with that can also be nominated, even win, for Best Director. Hopefully it will be a better movie than this one – which was still pretty good, I should not hesitate to add. Just not as good as Inglourious Basterds, or Up.

It should also be noted that Tom Hanks somehow almost ruined the ceremony of the Best Picture award … seeming too sudden, with no pause. The blame lies mainly with the orchestra, but something needs to be done about this next year. Maybe not have ten Best Picture nominees? There’s a start.

So the Oscars were okay, nothing special, but you know what? It’s exactly as I predicted: I’ll be back again next year, and I’ll undoubtedly begin with excitement and end with boredom and disinterest. It’s the endless trick that the Academy pulls, and one that me and countless others will fall for every time.

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