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Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Night: Not with a Bang, But a Whimper

So the big night came and all of the questions that have plagued us for lo these many months can finally be put to bed: Will James Franco and Anne Hathaway pull an Oscar host fail? What will Nicole/Halle/Natalie wear? Who will curse during their acceptance speech? Will Ricky Gervais sneak into the Kodak Theatre and somehow upset this Night of Nights? And will Mr. Darcy - oops, sorry, Colin Firth win an Oscar for playing Queen Elizabeth's dad?

The Red Carpet
There's no way to begin an Oscar's de-brief without talking about the fashion show that precedes the proceedings, so here we go. We'll start with the A-team. Natalie Portman, who is now more famous for being pregnant than for acting, arrived at the end of the red carpet in a flowy, purple gown. Her hair in soft, side-swept waves, and her jewelry, demure and perfect. She looked pretty as a picture, which was pretty much what everyone expected, so let's move on.

Nicole Kidman arrived with her tiny Aussie hubby, Keith Urban, and a white dress that looked like it was having an identity crisis - a beautiful, strapless gown on top, and a kimono on the bottom. The red shoes didn't help, and that sad, skinny ponytail was the icing on top of this weird little fashion moment. Jennifer Hudson looked va-va-voom in Versace! There was a sweet moment between her and Ryan Seacrest as she recounted how only a few years ago, they had been together at the Kodak for American Idol. That she was able to reflect on just how fortunate she has been, even in the frenzy of camera flashes and double-sided sticky tape, just made me even more happy for this amazing, talented young lady. Halle Berry, after all of the tsuris with her tangled custody battle with her baby daddy, looked beautiful, as always. Nothing to see here!

And then there was Sharon Stone. That's right, in one of those wacky, "what the hell is SHE doing here moments", there she was, strutting her stuff on the red carpet with some big hair and that Cheshire cat grin. She looked great and it's clear that Helen Mirren must have taken her aside and told her to cut the crazy and celebrate looking amazing, no matter her age! Thanks Helen, and, by the way, you looked, as one commentator said, "bangin'".

I saw great short hair on the red carpet, and it was refreshing. Helen Mirren had a fantastic close cropped cut that could go from soft to bad ass. Cate Blanchett wore a short bob with some subtle layering that was fresh and sophisticated. It was a great compliment to her rather complicated dress - a Givenchy Couture number that looked like a Grecian column dress with a breast plate fastened to it.

The Hosts
When it was announced that James Franco and Anne Hathaway would be sharing hosting duties for this year's Oscar's, I cringed. Franco is a bit creepy. He's all over the place, making headlines for what could be interpreted as extreme multi-tasking or an identity crisis. Currently, Franco is directing a movie, starring on General Hospital, completing a degree at NYU, opening a bar, and preparing for a movie role. Anne Hathaway is like a Disney heroine come to life, with her large, wide open eyes, wide ever-smiling mouth, and a gawky, "aw shucks" posture. So of course it makes perfect sense to throw these two together to host the Oscars!

The evening began with a pre-recorded piece, using the concept of Chris Nolan's genius film, "Inception", and including Morgan Freeman and Alec Baldwin, who, along with Steve Martin, delivered one of the best Oscars I'd seen in a while when they teamed up last year. But, alas, a little bit of Alec was all we got. Throughout the evening, and the numerous and unnecessary costume changes by Ms. Hathaway, they taunted us with glimpses of hosts that we'd rather have. Late in the broadcast, out came Billy Crystal, the man whose hosted the Oscars eight times. I thought Uncle Billy was brought in to save us, but he was only a tease - he was there to pay homage to another great Oscar host, Bob Hope, so it was like a tease within a tease!

The Awards
Let's face it, British people give the best awards speeches, hands down! "The King's Speech" director Tom Hooper was funny, eloquent, and he brought the whole, "thanks mom" to a whole other level, by giving her full credit for finding him the script that would become his Oscar opportunity. Colin Firth added a layer of introspection to his acceptance speech, wondering, aloud, if his career had peaked with his Oscar win. And then there was Melissa Leo with an acceptance speech for her best supporting actress win that would have made Dog the Bounty Hunter blush. Her meandering, expletive-laden rant took us all on a guided tour of Crazy Town! It was a pity-inducing moment - I felt more sorry for her than I did the frail Kirk Douglas who presented the award, at least he's still got timing and panache!! And when she hip-checked Kirk Douglas as she was exiting from the stage, attempting to make light of her befuddlement by grabbing his cane and feigning a hip injury, well that was just too much! This is why actors need writers, my friends.

One of my favorite segments is the In Memoriam tribute, but I was disappointed that they took my lovely Celine Dion and suppressed her vocal fire power in the service of that old chestnut, "Smile". I hated that that song was resurrected for Michael Jackson's memorial service, and I hate it even more now. Celine Dion having to sing that schlock is the musical equivalent of putting Baby in the corner, and NOBODY puts Baby in the corner!

All in all, the show was alright. Even though my beloved Chris Nolan was overlooked for "Inception", and what's with that guy from Nine Inch Nails winning best soundtrack over Hans Zimmer??? Ah well, I guess that's a wrap! I'm just saying:)

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