As previously implied, this was probably one of the most entertaining Oscar broadcasts in recent memory, I think the reason why can be summed up in one word: spectacle. Turns out singing and dancing are entertaining to watch. Who knew? And even the montages were made to be more entertaining, although they still weren't necessarily that interesting. Although I have to admit that I laughed when James Franco from Pineapple Express was watching James Franco in Milk make out with Sean Penn.
I loves me a Hugh Jackman. I love how his first big movie role in America was this big action superhero role, but in his heart he's just a big ol' musical theatre geek. Seriously, is there anything that man can't do?
I also loves me an Anne Hathaway. I sure wish I could go see her play Viola in Twelfth Night, because that would be amazing. And now that the movie musical is officially back, she should do more singing; I agree with Shirley McLaine on that.
By the way, I'm sure people think it's corny to have former Academy Award recipients come out and toast the nominees before announcing the awards, but I thought it was kind of nice. It kind of reminds people that the point is (or should be) to celebrate artistic skill and quality performance. Also I remember my friend Greg saying once that he prefers to see Oscar recepients give Oscars, and I think that's a good point; sort of like passing the torch or whatever. So I enjoyed the theme of inclusion.
I also kind of liked the way that they walked people through the production process in giving out the technical awards.
It was sort of awkward to watch Jennifer Aniston presenting with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie sitting in the front row, but at least it wasn't visibly uncomfortable.
I liked what Penelope Cruz said in her speech about art being a universal language. I agree, and I've been saying for years that we refer to them (sometimes) as the humanities because those are the things that make us human. The reason I bring this up is that recently our feminine-voiced governor Mike Rounds proposed a round of deeply devastating state budget cuts in which he threatened (among other things) to completely cut the funding for the South Dakota Arts Council. What would South Dakota be without arts, you ask? Very, very, very boring; acres of amber waves of grain, and that's about it. Fortunately, due to the passage of the stimulus bill it sounds like we're going to get to keep the Arts Council, so thank goodness for that.
I'm so happy for Sean Penn for Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black; what an inspiring tale he told of his parents' unconditional love for him. And I felt that Sean Penn struck exactly the right tone in his speech, his uncompromising devotion to his principles tempered by graciousness and humility so that he didn't come across as an arrogant douchebag as he has on some (most) other occasions. Also, I thought that he and Robin Wright were getting divorced, but she was there with him, so...apparently not? If they're reconciled, I am happy about that, I'm just confused. By the way, and not to take anything away from their accomplishment, but I notice that the "commie homo-loving" Academy doesn't seem to have much use for GLBT characters unless they die tragically. Although, indeed, Hollywood doesn't seem to have much use for well-developed non-tragic GLBT characters either. So, baby steps, I guess.
I suppose this might be an opportune time to mention Heath Ledger. It was not a surprise that he won, but it sure would have been a disappointment if he'd lost. I was very touched by his family's acceptance speeches, but I was even more touched by the outpouring of emotion from all the people watching. Interestingly, I read an article recently in which people who knew Heath and worked with him talked about him, and they said that he actually didn't want to win in 2006 when he was up for Brokeback Mountain. That made me feel kind of bad that I wanted it for him so badly, and was so incensed when he didn't win, but of course I only wanted it for him because I loved him and his performance so much. But anyway, I'm glad that he won, and though I of course wish he were here to receive it himself, I'm glad that he's in a place now where they can't use it to hurt him.
I felt that a lot of the commercial breaks were oddly timed, but I really wish they'd had a commercial break after giving out the supporting actor award so that we'd all have had a chance to compose ourselves, but no, apparently they thought it would be a better idea to send Bill Maher out there to shamelessly promote himself, which seemed just a little bit tacky to me, but what do I know? I certainly don't know anything about Bill Maher's documentary other than what he said about it, but what he said about it made me kind of angry (which, on the positive side, helped me stop crying), so I just want to take a moment to address Mr. Maher: okay, Mr. Maher, people do a lot of stupid crap in the name of religion; I'll freely concede the point. But people are responsible for their own actions, you can't just blame religion; "God made me do it" is as flimsy and unacceptable an excuse as "the devil made me do it." You seem to believe that the world would be a better place if there were no religion, and you're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I'm convinced that, in that case, people would just find other ways to justify the stupid crap they do.
Speaking of crying, I started crying again when Queen Latifah sang "I'll Be Seeing You" during the In Memoriam tribute, but that said, I'm not sure I liked it; I think in that case a simple montage might be better, if for no other reason that they seemed to have more people to memoralize than they had song to sing. Also, they had a chance to include Brad Renfro and they didn't, which I think is kind of too bad. Plus I hadn't heard that James Whitmore had died (on February 6th, apparently), so that was sad, but then he was 88 years old so that was hardly tragic.
It's about bloody time Kate Winslet won an Oscar; I am so happy for her. And though I try not to dwell on the fashions and stuff at the Oscars because I don't think that's what they should be about, she looked really classy with that elegant hairdo. Also it was charming when she told her dad to whistle so she'd know where he was.
So yeah, I'm very happy for the Slumdog Millionaire people; by all accounts it's a great film and Dev Patel is absolutely adorable. I'm looking forward to seeing it at some point, but unfortunately I'm still poor myself so it will have to wait until it comes to the discount theater or out on DVD. Speaking of the discount theater, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is there now; I've been meaning to go see it, but it's really long. But as it happens, I don't have anything else I HAVE to do today; what I had to do I've done already, and the only other thing that really needs doing is laundry, and I can't do that until I have more change anyway, so I might as well. I think I'll go do that.
To sum up, I enjoyed the Oscars, as I usually do, and of course the old debate rages on about whether the Academy is out of touch or hypocritical, about whether movies that make a lot of money are good and vice versa. So I'll just reiterate that I think that the Academy can stand to be a little more populist, and the populace can stand to be a little less hedonic; maybe we could all meet in the middle and be epicurean.