Thursday, March 11, 2010
Welcome to the Blah-scars: An Academy Award Debate
With me, I suppose it's just a tradition that started when I was a kid. It's part of our cultural fabric and in some perverse way it's considered to be relevant--to whom I might ask. Gone are the days of Bob Hope and a night of a thousand stars, now replaced by a build up that last for days and hours of watching celebrities walk the red carpet. And then it all culminates in one big glitzy snooze-fest that leaves one feeling a shruggy so-what moment when it's all over.
This is how it all seems to me and now I want to pose the question to you:
Have the Oscar ceremonies become formulaic, trite, and boring and do they need something to put new zing into them?
The ratings were way up over the past few years. It could have been the adding of ten films to the best picture roster, some of which were actually popular, or maybe it's because more people have less money and have nothing better to do than to stay home and watch a show that is ultimately meaningless to them.
Thankfully, there was little in the way of socio-political statements and the biggest one, coming from Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow, was pro-American service personnel. Maybe because there was no Bush to bash or maybe Hollywood is starting to get the message that many Americans don't appreciate getting their country spat upon. There was no really outstanding controversy present and I was glad of that.
Everything was pretty smooth. The presentations were paced as quickly as an awards show can offer. There was a wide array of star presenters. But on the whole, the show lacked pizzazz. The Academy Award show was just another award show. I think the shows in the future need something to make them more special.
For one thing, I miss the best song presentations. For that matter I miss good songs being nominated. Song choices for the past many years have been pretty weak--not many classics here. When's the last time you went around singing those Slumdog Millionaire songs. The productions for those songs last year were colorful and entertaining, but these are not Oscar worthy songs. Or "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp"--heard any recent covers of that classic tune. Oscar songs should be songs for the ages; songs that are universally accepted as classics. Before nominating a song maybe they should see how many people can actually sing it. Best Song from a motion picture should be based on the song and not the performance or political relevance.
They should reinstate good motion picture song nominee performances by decent performers. Maybe they could even have them sung by American Idol winners or contestants. Or how about as they build up to Oscar time they hold a highly visible televised talent competition similar to Idol to find exciting new talent who will perform the best song nominations? Let the Academy members choose the award winners, but let the American public choose the performers,. If the viewers are also stakeholders in the process, it might increase ratings.
And what was the dance number all about? They used to have fine Hollywood productions, and this year it was like a hip-hop Cirque d'Soleil. There were some fantastic dancers on the stage, but it was some of the most chaotic choreography I have ever seen. The production numbers should be far better than that.
Then there was James Taylor. I really like Taylor's singing, but the whole episode with the montage of dead personalities was just not right. Personally, I prefer the montage backed by lush sentimental Hollywood movie music. James Taylor should have sang a best song pick and not been a lugubrious soundtrack to a slideshow of people who have died.
I could have done without the best actor and actress eulogies. Save that for another time and place or wait until they've died. It sounded like a series of job recommendations and I'm not hiring. Here again, they might get the American public involved. Hold a lottery or a contest and pick a couple of regular people to give those awards. Forget about a testimonial for each actor from a different star. I don't need to hear Oprah gushing over what's-her-name from Precious.
I have plenty of gripes about the show and I'll bet some of you do as well. Did you love the Academy Awards show? What do you think it needs to make it better? Did the Academy pick the right winners? Who were your favorites this year?