I think we can all agree: the Oscars were more than a little boggling this year. The hosting team of James Franco and Anne Hathaway was oddly calibrated—to say the least. To say the most, they were awful and Billy Crystal should have just taken over half-way through when he came on stage to do that weird Bob Hope thing (which everyone could have done without, frankly).
Hathaway’s first moments onstage should have included the disclaimer: “I took uppers, he took downers! Isn’t it exciting?!”
Here is my disclaimer: I am not a Hathaway fan to begin with. Let that inform your reading as you will.
The opening montage was entertaining for very few reasons:
- It probably irritated Leonardo DiCaprio.
- Alec Bladwin had an Ambien juice-box.
- OK, the Social Network bit was pretty entertaining. Fine.
- Morgan Freeman subtly acknowledged that much of the world’s population wishes he would narrate their lives: “Alec likes me to narrate his dreams; says I have a soothing voice.”
- At the end, Morgan Freeman and Alec Baldwin both wondered who on earth Franco and Hathaway were.
That is five entertaining moments (and a couple horrifying ones such as the True Grit and Black Swan bits) in the part of the show that involves the most prep-work and was taped ahead of time.
You know what I miss? The Gilligan’s Island montage from 1998—the year of Titanic—when Billy Crystal was still hosting. He was entertaining. It starts here with the pre-taped montage and continues here on-stage with the Gilligan theme song parody, and then a When Harry Met Sally musical love moment found in As Good As It Gets sung to “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” There’s even Hello Dolly redone for The Full Monty.
So good (also you get to see Gloria Stuart all crazy glammed up). That is how it is done.
I digress. Back to the present.
Little moments of note:
- Franco’s grandmother informing the audience that she had just seen Marky-Mark was passable; Hathaway’s mother telling her to stand up straight was not.
- Gone with the Wind tribute helmed by Tom Hanks, bolstered by an explanation of the ultimate Best Picture trifecta of Oscars, not won by a single film since Titanic, won for the first time by Gone with the Wind: Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography. I love Gone with the Wind, so I was on board for hearing some of the score and the Tara backdrop… but maybe it was unnecessary.
- The four hundred hours it took Kirk Douglas to present Best Supporting Actress to Melissa Leo just has to be mentioned. It was arduous, it was a ridiculous and it was creepy. Kirk: please do not ever publicly lust over someone my age ever again. Anne: Do not ever “you-are-the-master”-bow to anyone in public ever again. Melissa Leo: Just because Natalie Portman said “asshole” at the SAG awards doesn’t mean you should drop the f-bomb to one-up her at the Oscars.
- At least Leo’s faux pas created a diversion from the presenter-death that preceded and followed. We all know that Justin Timberlake is hilarious. Those of us who enjoy That 70s Show reruns while everyone else is at work know that Mila Kunis is pretty funny lady. Why was their banter the kiss of death? How was it possible? No one saw that coming.
- Toy Story 3 wins for adapted screenplay? Adapted from what? The two preceding films? Mr. Potato Head? Cowboy make-believe play of the past 150-odd years? Theodore Roosevelt’s original Teddy Bear? What?
- Blah, blah, Aaron Sorkin wouldn’t shut up and kept repeating names.
- The seventy-something screenwriter for The King’s Speech, David Seidler, explained that, “My father always to me, I would be a late bloomer.”
- What in the name of all that is holy was that musical number by Anne Hathaway. Stop talking, stop singing, leave Hugh Jackman alone, stop warbling about Wolverine.
- Russel Brand “translating” Helen Mirren’s French introduction for the Best Foreign Film award, which included the supposed assertion that she played a queen way better than Colin Firth played a king. While Firth’s discomfited face was entertaining, all I could think was: Poor Dame Helen. This is what it has come to. I am sorry.
On to moments that deserve or just require full clips:
Remember that time Harry Potter movies—to the chagrin of the younger generations—do not win Oscars for awesomeness? Well, the ‘young and hip’ 83rd Oscars really hit the right note when they revealed an auto-tuned montage of ‘youthful’ movies with the most hilariously awkward scene in Deathly Hallows, Part I.
In re-reading that paragraph I am chagrined at the lack of a universally accepted sarcasm font for rants. You will just have to figure it out yourself.
And like, really, Twilight, really? Who was paid-off to have that embarrassment to humanity included in an already embarrassing montage. At least Deathly Hallows, Toy Story 2 and Social Network were nominated for things.
It did make me giggle. I will admit that. But it is not something I want to giggle at during the Oscars. On YouTube? Sure. Kodak Theater stage? No thank you. For the millionth time I ask: where is Billy Crystal?
Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law had one of the more lively presenter exchanges. You have to give them banter chemistry. It was laced with some mild ungainliness at the start, but overall one of the better duos. Unfortunately the clip cuts out before Downey informs the audience that Jude Law no longer has a ride to the after parties, in case anyone is interested.
Sandra Bullock was probably the best presenter of the night, calling out each of the nominees for Best Actor with solid pacing, humor and personality, including haranguing Jeff Bridges for having won last year and yet having the gall to be nominated again this year.
She sternly commanded Colin Firth’s attention—”Colin, Colin, right here”—resulting a typical move by Firth, my favorite little moment of the night: a bashful wave up to Bullock. This was soon followed by Firth’s admission that he was experiencing “some stirrings, somewhere in the upper abdominals, which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves, which as joyous as they may be for me, would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.”
But it all starts when we got to see Hathaway admit on air that people are definitely making a drinking game out of her hosting, as she introduces Bullock.
Colin Firth, you are fantastic. And I have enjoyed all of your acceptance speeches this season.
Natalie Portman gave her usual list of thank yous from previous appearances in past weeks, emphasizing thanks to her parents for teaching her to be a good person, etc. What I enjoyed about this one was her inclusion of the film people “who no one ever talks about, that are your heart and soul everyday;” she went on to thank her make-up and hair people, costume designers, dressers, camera operators, and first AD all by name. Classy touch.
And now, the moment that many a poorly programmed DVR lost: the “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” New York PS 22 Chorus finale with all the winners, and best of all a way too hyped up Anne Hathaway reflecting on how dreams really do come true, while James Franco is all like, whatever, I have no idea how I got here or why.
My favorite part is when Hathaway goes all cheerleader at the end and start high-fiving all the kids. I tweeted on their behalf:
P.S. For more Oscar recap laughs, head to the Tallulah Morehead Huffington Post rant.
P.P.S. For Academy Award fashion reflections, see my post from yesterday.