Well, I regularly voice my derision for the Oscars. This makes it particularly hard for me to defend watching at least a portion of them every year.
Last night I had every intention of going home from work and playing video games, but as I got to Broadway Station I was feeling both hungry and in need of a little social contract, so I decided to have a burger at Toby's Pub.
The very charming waitress and I kept each other entertained on what was clearly a very slow night for her... and we watched the Academy Awards.
It all started with a disagreement over Ellen DeGeneres's suit. The waitress thought the colour was awful. I though she looked great... but to be fair, I was wearing an orange and green t-shirt with The Hulk on it and a blue cardigan reminiscent of Kurt Cobain. It was laundry day, what can I say?
I'm not going to bother wading through each and evey moment of the night. I'm going to comment on two thematic things and the elements within, but that's all.
The smallest first:
The two major stage performances (not counting the ubiquitous best song performances). The vocal jazz choir sound effect thingy... very very cool. Very cool. The shadow dancers... just seemed dull to me. I didn't fell like the images presented were genuinely representative of the films in question... boiling 'The Departed' down to a gun? Huh? It looked like the credit sequence of a James Bond film. And the first one where they turned into an Oscar statue... cheap-o! That was totally a cut out.
Then the over-arching theme of the evening...
I'm not sure exactly how to phrase this, but I guess perhaps this was the Bride's Maid's Oscars. The biggest example is of course Martin Scorsese finally winning an Oscar for directing. I admit I haven't seen all of The Departed - with a wee bit of irony I turned it off less than halfway through the other night as it wasn't effectively overcoming my grogginess, merely adding to it. I will watch the rest, but it hardly struck me as his best. I'm not so fond of The Aviator, but all of the other four films he's been nominated for are thoroughly worthy of an Oscar. (For the record, that's Raging BUll, Goodfellas, Casino and Gangs of New York.) Hooray for finally getting recognized for work you did 27 years ago.
Similarly Alan Arkin. I actually think the look on Alan Arkin's face when his name was announced read "You gotta be fucking kidding me. You're giving me a defacto 'lifetime achievement award', not awarding me for the actual work I did in this film!"
Helen Mirren - perhaps in less, er... desperate... need for a statue - looking like the sexiest blue-hair I've ever seen, winning after three nominations (albeit this is the first as Best-Actress).
If there was one person in the auditorium in greater need of getting a make-up call... I mean that metaphor in the sporting sense, not the thespian sense, despite the venue... than Scorcese it would be, of course, Peter O'Toole. We can pretty much assume that Lawrence of Arabia will never get an Oscar. I'm not a fan of the, as I called it above 'defacto lifetime achievement award' - but if some one had it coming, it was Peter O'Toole. At least Scorcese is going to have another chance - possibly even as soon as next year, and likely with a better film!
Jennifer Hudson... a bit of a 'Huh?' But she fits the theme. Didn't win American Idol - won an Oscar instead. As inexplicable a win as Marissa Tomei, but a good consolation prize for an American Idol also-ran if you ask me.
And lastly - Al Gore. Do I need to explain how he fits the theme? No? Good. 'Cause if I did, then clearly the best comedy routine of the night was wasted on you. Sorry, Ellen - you too are a runner-up. Gore's routine with Leo DiCaprio (who I admit has become a pretty interesting actor in the past year) was pretty funny, but the punch line was the best. And when Inconvenient Truth won Best Documentary, his "My Fellow Americans" line was priceless. It truly would have been a historical moment if he had announced his candidacy though, huh?
Okay one last thing... as I'm talking about Al Gore. As amusing as it was, the Academy's self-congratulatory announcement about going green was infuriating. It's 2007! The Academy Awards - Liberal Hollywood's biggest night - has just managed to 'go green' this year? How long has the environment been an issue? It's been in the public eye for easily 25 years, and the past 10 or more have been really really significant. It took this long for the Academy to adopt enviromentally low-impact practices? That is retarded.