Why This Year’s Oscar® Season Was Exciting, The Show Not So Much

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What can I say about the year in film for 2013? We had a lot of tight close races during award season which should have made for an exciting Oscarcast®. Unfortunately I was wrong. Everyone who was favorite to win went on to win. Not that that was a necessarily a bad thing. You know you’re in for a long slog of an evening when the animated short “Mr. Hublot” wins Best Animated Short Film qualifies as the biggest upset of the night. As someone who viewed all nine films nominated for best picture and all twenty actors nominated for their performances, I really did feel that 12 Years a Slave was really the Best Picture of the year and deserved to win. If I was an Academy member I would voted for 12 Years a Slave over Gravity, and Lupita Nyong’o over Jennifer Lawrence mainly because I felt both Gravity and American Hustle were more or less pretty overrated in their own unique ways. Don’t get me wrong, both films were good but not as riveting as the storyline and performances found in 12 Years a Slave. Now some will say Hollywood was pandering after years of ignoring stories of struggling minority groups finally serving as a make good. Perhaps 12 Years winning signifies the Academy inviting a younger a diverse membership has finally paid off. The optimist in me hopes they picked 12 Years a Slave because they felt it really was the Best Movie they saw this year and they just simply amazed by Gravity‘s technological capabilities they chose to throw them some bones, okay a lot of bones.  All four actors gave warm and thoughtful speeches, which when you think of it that’s actually hard to do after so many trips to the podium at so many different award ceremonies leading up to the big night. They each represented an actor in a different stage of their career. Nyong’o was the newcomer fresh to Hollywood movies and grateful to be there. Leto represented a comeback of an actor in which we knew was on the rise but then chose to give it all up to take his career in another direction.  McConaughey represented a comeback of a different kind, an actor who struggled for years to find himself all of a sudden throws himself into a number of roles and is congratulated for challenging himself. And finally Blanchett, an actress perhaps at her peak giving a career performance among a number of career performances who simply cementing her already legendary career.

Unfortunately it was the actual Oscar® when the best thing about the show is a commercial. Tina Fey’s fun American Express ad was the cleverest thing this night offered up. The show did get some positive reviews from the critics, meaning Ellen DeGeneres truly is critic proof. I was texting a friend and we were debating if she performing improv for much of her act.  I felt that if she wasn’t performing unrehearsed improv then then she wasn’t executing the skits or jokes properly. It seemed like she tried to hard to hip and current (and apparently break records) with all of the selfies (see the photo above that apparently broke Twitter, although I had no problem with it) and the tweeting. It felt unnecessary. The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman gave what I felt was a harsh but accurate review, he criticized the show for being too self-involved and as always overly long. I agree that the show is way too long but it always is, and always will be, and that will never change. I was unnerved by how much the show focused on things that were unrelated to the films they were supposed to be celebrating this year. The same producers came back for the second consecutive year but still managed to make a number of questionable moves. They once again went back to the well of themes last year it was “Musicals” this year it’s “Heroes,” how about just celebrating this years winners? Also, why have Bette Midler sing after the montage of deceased celebrities when the package was already shown? Maybe the Divine Miss M didn’t want to share the spotlight with dead people. Am I the only one out there who felt that Shirley Temple deserved more than placard in the middle of the “In Memoriam” package? The selection of presenters and the pairings made no sense. Anna Kendrick and Gabourey Sidibe? What do Zack Efron and John Travolta have in common? They both flubbed their lines (as way too many did) as they were introducing their film packages. If I was producing the show, I would have gotten people who weren’t nominated but were still players in the Awards season such as Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, maybe even Robert Redford (if their game that is). Why have Will Smith present Best Picture when he was in ironically one of the worst pictures of the year? Why not have Ben Affleck present Best Picture, his wife was there as part of a Best Picture nominee, why wasn’t he? I was perhaps most shocked by all the production snafus that occurred during the, host Ellen DeGeneres constantly had an open mic on as she introduced segments as did performers after they were received standing ovations. On that that note: up and down the audience went. I swear it was like watching a work out for geriatrics. Who decides who deserves a standing ovation? Sorry Alfonso Cuaron everyone else who won in a major category got one but you. Better luck at winning over the audience next time. I’m glad that the Academy chose to honor films and performances that were truly deserving this year. If only the ceremony that was produced to celebrate those films could match them. Then again what do I know? There’s always next year I guess.

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