Monday, March 08, 2010

Oscars 2010: Let's face it, everything below the waist is kaput!

Whoever said there is no balm in Gilead wasn’t lulled into an insensible stupor last night by the 82nd Academy Awards telecast. Hey, world, got earthquakes? Tsunamis? Crazy teabaggers flying into buildings? Crazy teabaggers setting their houses on fire? Crazy teabaggers trying to storm the Pentagon? Crazy teabaggers refusing to admit that their central beef, i.e., government giveaways to the banks and corporations, can only be solved by more government and not less? Just curl up in front of the world’s most predictable media event and wash all that scary hopey changey stuff right on out of your hair.

The Oscars!® It’s good for what ails ya!®

The Oscars have long suffered by comparison to other award shoes, and have famously sought to distinguish themselves from them, so of course the show began with a musical number danced and sung by Neil Patrick Harris – which was a completely new and original idea if you do not count the last Tony Awards show. Or the last Emmy Awards. Oscar then followed that up by proceeding to reward exactly the same people it always rewards and be ridiculously overblown in all the same ways it always is.

Case in point is that a major acting award went to someone who does a lot of crap but who managed to pull off a respectable serious performance. And no, I’m not talking about Sandra Bullock. Jeff Bridges finally won the Oscar on his fifth try for what was basically Tender Mercies 2, and I’m fine with it even though he is frequently terrible because he did Starman, and I love Starman, and he was really really good in Starman. The academy, like Olympic judges, prefers performances with a high technical difficulty, which usually means that they’re unduly impressed when an actor plays a real person. Morgan Freeman must’ve thought he had it all sewed up then, since he played not just a real person, but a real black person. A real, cool, black person – everything Hollywood loves, in theory. But I think the voters realized that Bridges, the Dude, was not, you know, getting any younger, and it was time for him to have his little statue.

Similarly, Sandra Bullock won for Steel Magnolias 2 under the Ron Howard Provision of academy voting, which is, if you stick around long enough and don’t rock the boat and do reliable box office, you will be rewarded, even if your work is mediocre.

And so, blah blah blah, predictable awards, predictable witty banter, predictable self-effacing visual humiliation of Ben Stiller, predictable terrible dance number in which the dancers’ interpretation of the song tends toward the hilariously literal…

The only mild surprise was that The Hurt Locker managed to hang onto what everybody figured it would get, in spite of a last minute whispering campaign against the filmmakers (financed by, oh, I don’t know, the producers of Inglorious Basterds, maybe?) and a rather suspiciously-timed lawsuit filed by one of the soldiers that the screenwriter interviewed before he wrote the script. But the Academy was rather obviously prepared for their first female Best Director, as they had long time bridesmaid Barbra Streisand there to hand over the award for which she was at one time herself famously snubbed. Also, they had the band poised to play “I Am Woman,” because hey, that’s not dated and cheesey!

Another predictable result of the Oscars was Japan’s reaction today to the Best Documentary win. The film, The Cove, tells the story of a small Japanese town and their horrific and secretive culling of the local dolphin population for food. If you’ve never seen film of what they do, they trap, drown, and spear the dolphins in numbers sufficient to turn the water of the cove completely red with blood. It’s barbaric and ugly, to say the least, and Japan has shut their eyes to it for years, saying that, essentially, we should respect the practice because it is a very old practice. As if that makes it okay.

I’m not sure why, if they’re so miffed and defensive, they don’t simply point out the incredible hypocrisy of our position. After all, lambs are cute. Pigs are intelligent. What exactly is the basis of our objection to this? There’s nothing going on in that cove that doesn’t happen on the kill floor in slaughterhouses all over the United States in every single minute of every single day.

You know what else is predictable? That there will be two reactions to this part of my post: 1. crickets, or 2. but I love bacon! Man, that shit is tired.

So go at it. I’ll be in the bar, trying to replicate that insensible stupor.


Michael said...

1. I forget which one is Jeff Bridges and which one is Jeff Daniels a lot. I have to think about it to distinguish them in my mind. Does Daniels have a an Oscar?

2. I think the minimum measure of any Oscar-worthy movie is that you'd like to see it again, and I have never wanted to see that schmatlzy crap Prince of Tides a second time. Not ever. Not even when the Simpsons did their reference to it. Same goes for the Indian film with the love story and the car battery to the balls. Which I did enjoy watching, but just don't need to see it again. What was it called?

3. I think you're right about the proper Japanese response to our collective gasp, but they seem a bit too polite on cultural matters to openly consider the source. If it's any consolation to them, I don't give a shit how they make their food, unless of course they get PO'd when someone else says it gross. I suspect the producers have them exactly where they want them, unwilling to admit to their own mixed feelings. They really do seem to have that "on the one hand..." response.

SJ said...

Voice of dissent here on the Oscars. In fact, this is the show I most look forward to all year. The musical number was, to me, completely tongue-in-cheek with Busby Berkley dancing girls and hand feather fans. I still cringed because I didn't like Doogie doing it on the Emmys either. I thought the dance number was amazing. I didn't realize they played "I am woman" when Katherine Bigelow won. (good grief)

One thing I couldn't get past was Tom Hanks being introduced as "Academy Award winner and Academy board of governors, Tom Hanks." Oh wow. This means, he will soon be one of those old guys running the whole thing, like liver-spotted Jack Valenti old guys. I like my movie stars to stay frozen in time, Mr. Gump.

Marshall Park Slope said...

Another brilliantly assembled post Vikki, but i must say I enjoyed Neil's number and thought Alec and Steve were pretty damn funny. What I am absolutely thrilled about is that I wont have to hear Barbara Walters ask another nominee in the pre show, "how would your parents feel about you being in this position"? WTF? "well, barbara, they would be disappointed I think. they were looking to me to be a meth head on A&E's intervention".

As far as the dolphins, I just didn't want to be a cricket seeing as how that is one of my cat's name, so all I can say your point is a good one, and I am not sure one that can be argued...

SkylersDad said...

Best part of the evening for me was getting to watch Katherine win big, right in front of her sanctimonious ex!

Best. seating. arrangement. ever!

RandyLuvsPaiste said...

James Cameron's current wife frightens me.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Is it because you live out there near Hollywood that you feel like you HAVE to watch such disappointing, predictable, entertainment every year or is it just to provide us with these lovely snarks?

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

The academy loves them some white do gooder stories.

Larry Jones said...

Wow, Vikki. You're more cynical than I am.

I must be growing old and foolish. I usually mock these awards and the others like them, but this year I let myself enjoy their moments of glory. The show is cheesy, but it is what it is and you know that going in. Still, I found some of the triumphs large and small to be moving.

And you've got to love the voters for poking James Cameron in the eye.

Stardust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pinky said...

I'm generaly a cynic when it comes to awards shows, but I enjoyed Alec and Steve. And I don't really have any complaints about the winners. Sandy Bullock's performance in The Blind Side was her Erin Brokovich, and while I didn't like the movie Crazy Heart (seen that movie a gazillion times) I thought Jeff Bridges did a terrific job. Missed Neil's opening #, going to watch it later today. And you make a great point about "The Cove." I can't rationalize that away no matter how good bacon tastes (I had to, sorry) K

Anonymous said...

No balm in Gilead? What do you think they use dolphin grease for?

Splotchy said...

I wasn't sure if you were serious when you said Jeff Bridges is frequently terrible.

Hell, I thought Iron Man was awful, but I liked him in it.

I think he's a great actor.

kittens not kids said...

I probably haven't seen any other Jeff Bridges movies except the Big Lebowski, so he can have the Oscar based solely on that movie. which i love.

i didn't watch any of the oscars except sandra bullock and hurt locker winning at the end. and who cares? not me. the only nominated film *I* saw was UP.

i never liked bacon, even before i became a vegetarian.

the most interesting thing to me about Oscar season this year was that someone wrote to Dan Savage saying that the Oscar statuettes look like the perfect shape & size for certain erotic activities. which had never occurred to me, but was pretty hilarious.