Long (But Fun) Oscar Week Ends With Bland Show
February 28, 2011

They say it's all about the journey and not the destination. Right? Like millions of Americans, and a billion people all over the world, I enjoy watching the Academy Awards. Usually, in the days leading up to the Sunday night telecast, I'll watch a few of the movies. Last year I think I rented The Hurt Locker on Saturday night, and decided at the last minute to go see Crazy Heart in the theater on Sunday afternoon. This year, I got a little carried away.

I wanted to see The King's Speech , so I went to see that on Wednesday. I rented The Social Network , and The Kids Are All Right . I came back to get Toy Story 3 , but also picked up Toy Story 2 because I hadn't seen it. While I was in the video store, I saw that Inception , and Winter's Bone were out on video, so I got those too. Saturday, I decided to go see The Fighter , then decided to sneak in and see The Black Swan . Then, to top it off, Sunday morning, I went to see True Grit . In all, I watched nine of the ten nominated movies (plus Toy Story 2) in six days (127 Hours wasn't playing in the theater and isn't out on video). I hope Oscar Fever isn't fatal.

So, having seen all those movies, and armed with all that Oscar knowledge, I still only correctly picked 4 of the winners in the 6 major categories. I thought David Fincher of The Social Network would win for Best Director, and True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld should have won for Supporting Actress (the 14 year-old really should have been classified as a leading actress—she had more screen time than anyone else in the movie). Melissa Leo was really good in The Fighter , though, and apparently thought she was still in character—dropping an F-bomb in her acceptance speech.

And all of this movie watching while not being too excited about the awards show itself. With James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts, you figured it wasn't going to be a barrel of laughs, and it wasn't. We found out that Hathaway can sing a little, and change clothes a lot, and Franco can have a goofy grin on his face for three hours. Other than that, the only thing Franco did that was comical was appear briefly in a dress while Hathaway donned a tuxedo.

The Academy seemed to be trying to go for the younger demographic with its Ken and Barbie hosts, and Hathaway joked about that, but in the second segment, they brought out 94 year-old Kirk Douglas to present for Supporting Actress. So much for skewing younger. Douglas' bit was cute at first when he was flirting with Hathaway and the nominees, but it went on too long, and you had a feeling it was going to be a long night.

The show picked up though, and moved along with very little fluff. Eight-time host Billy Crystal made an appearance, presenting a clip of the first Oscar telecast in 1953 with Bob Hope. Celine Dion (again, so much for skewing younger) sang during the “In Memoriam” segment. There was no big lifetime achievement award this year. Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock, presenters of Best Actress and Best Actor respectively, talked directly to the nominees while presenting. I thought that was a great touch.

All in all, a fun week of watching a lot of movies, and the show was good, just not really that memorable. We'll see what degree of Oscar Fever I catch next year.

Oscar Observations: News of the Night—The academy President announcing that they have renewed their broadcast agreement with ABC through the year 2020...Best Applause—Crystal. Maybe the audience was hoping he would host the remainder of the show... Best Acceptance Speech—Randy Newman (winning for the second time in 20 nominations for Original Song) saying he didn't want to be “bad television”... Best Line, and Best Supporting Speech-- Luke Matheny (winning Best Live Action Short Film for God of Love ) saying “I should've gotten a haircut” over an hour after Robert Stromberg (winner of Art Direction for Alice In Wonderland ) started the first acceptance speech of the evening by saying “Why Didn't I Lose 20 pounds”... Special Speech Awards—Aaron Sorkin and Christian Bale. I think the orchestra played an entire symphony while Sorkin accepted the Best Adapted Screenplay award for The Social Network . Music be damned, Sorkin thanked everyone he knew. I guess Bale just got choked up, but it seemed like he forgot his wife's name. Upon winning Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter, he said “I'd like to thank my wife”, looked up at her, and couldn't speak for a second....Best Presenters—Russell Brand and Helen Mirren. Everything he says, even just the way he talks, is funny. The two are making a movie together (I don't think the Academy is ready for Brand to host, but it sure would be entertaining)... Most Hideous Dress—Cate Blanchett in a landslide. I saw the dress described on a website as looking like a cocktail napkin with a stain on it. It reminded me of the curtain rod that Carol Burnett wore in that famous Gone With the Wind sketch (“I just saw it in the window and had to have it”)