If I could sum up this year’s Oscar ceremony in one word, it would be “Meh.” It wasn’t 100 percent dreadful, but there was definitely something missing. There were very few surprises in this year’s telecast, and overall the jokes fell flat.
When the Academy announced Anne Hathaway and James Franco would host the Oscars instead of the traditional comedian, most people rolled their eyes at the Oscars’ obvious ploy to attract a younger demographic. But after seeing their humorous promos, I was pretty hopeful they would surprise everyone and be a funny, charming pair. I was wrong. The material they had to work with wasn’t great to begin with, and they lacked the quick wit that made hosts like Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and Billy Crystal shine.
Franco spent most of the ceremony looking like he just wanted to go to sleep (though between his studies, his recent art exhibit and his mountain of film projects, who could blame him?), but Anne Hathaway did a pretty good job considering the lackluster material. She at least had a lot of energy and personality.
The presenters also seemed bland compared to years past. No witty repartee from Tina Fey and Steve Martin. No Ben Stiller dressed as a Na’vi. Sandra Bullock’s jabs as the best actor nominees, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s banter and Justin Timberlake’s proclamation that he is, in fact, anonymous street artist Banksy, were a few of the only memorable presenters. Kirk Douglas was the highlight by far, with his hilarious and drawn-out announcement of the best supporting actress award. Who knew the 94-year-old Hollywood veteran was so cheeky?
I was glad they returned to showing clips of each acting nominee’s performance, and that the show wasn’t quite so bloated with montages. The opening sketch was funny enough, especially with Morgan Freeman’s cameo, and the best picture montage was very well done, even though the climactic speech from “The King’s Speech” framing the other clips made it blatantly obvious it was the front-runner. The auto-tune montage was awkward overall, though I have to admit I laughed pretty hard at the first song, Ron Weasley’s “Tiny Ball of Light.”
The Winners (and Snubs)
Overall, this one one of the most predictable ceremonies in awhile. Most of the winners were deserving, but I like a good surprise or two to shake things up. Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Melissa Leo and Christian Bale all walked away with Oscars just as anticipated, but at least Leo spiced things up by dropping an F-bomb. The best speeches were given by the two best screenplay winners, Aaron Sorkin for “The Social Network” and David Seidler for “The King’s Speech.” Seidler quipped about being a late bloomer as the oldest best original screenplay winner, while Sorkin demanded some respect from his daughter’s guinea pig.
I was pleased to see “Inception” take home a slew of technical awards, though Christopher Nolan’s best director snub still stung when the nominees were announced. For me, and probably for many others viewers, the races I was waiting for were best picture and best director. And for both, I was disappointed. I’ve made no secret that I think “The Social Network” deserved the top prize, though after winning the trifecta of guild awards, I wasn’t surprised in the least that “The King’s Speech” emerged victorious.
It was a truly beautiful film. I can’t say it was undeserving. But I wish the Academy would award something fresh, something that doesn’t fit so perfectly into the classic Academy formula (true story, British monarchy, overcoming obstacles – how could it lose?). The film was practically tailor-made for an Oscar. “The Social Network,” on the other hand, was basically a giant middle finger to everyone who made fun of “the Facebook movie” when it was announced. Flawlessly directed, impeccably acted and boasting a stunningly sharp script, “The Social Network” used something that has connected hundreds of millions of people to tell the much larger story of a generation of young people unafraid to create something with technology, people who crave instant communication and information and the narcissism that arises from the ability to post one’s every thought. And clearly I’m not the only one that felt “The Social Network” was the cream of the crop this year. According to Metacritic, the most major movie critics named “The Social Network” the best picture of the year, topping a whopping 22 top-10 lists. “Winter’s Bone” and “Black Swan” had the second-most No. 1 rankings among critics topping seven top-10 lists apiece.
But I was most upset that David Fincher lost to Tom Hooper. Yes, Hooper won the director’s guild award, but I still thought Fincher would wind up the winner at the Oscars. Hooper did a wonderful job directing “The King’s Speech,” but I feel like someone else could have directed it just as well. Without Fincher in the director’s chair, “The Social Network” wouldn’t have been the same film.
But what did you think of the telecast? Who do you think deserved to take home the Oscar gold? Any thoughts on who should host next year? Sound off in the comments section.
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