Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Annual Oscar Recap

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards was a blast. I have to say that I really enjoyed this year’s show. Oscar night in Hollywood is always a party and for the Academy to throw such a gala every twelve months does demonstrate a high level of appreciation for the stars, not to mention the producers, directors, and countless others behind the scenes of every movie who bring the whole thing together. I remember a few years ago when it was estimated that one billion people all over the world watched the Oscar telecast. I don’t know if that number still holds or not, but this is one night when everybody has a party, even if it’s just a party of their own.

Neil Patrick Harris should definitely host the show in 2011. He opened last night’s festivities with a blast that was sensational! His song and dance number, accompanied by all those provocatively clad dancers, really got the party started. I was thrilled by it. From Doogie Howser to How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris has come a long way in Hollywood and he deserves to be one of its biggest attractions.

Conversely, there were a few parts about last night’s show that I take issue with. These are factors that to me detracted from how good it could have been.

Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin did an amiable job co-hosting the event. However, they seemed to be very low key to me. For Tinsel Town’s own “Wild and Crazy Guy” to not bring down the house with every remark he made came off somewhat flat. I have to wonder if Alec was holding him back somehow. Steve Martin is truly a comedic legend and a master of the craft such as he just didn’t deliver all the way. Alec Baldwin is indeed a force to be reckoned with himself but these two dudes just didn’t work together that well. I think they, and the audience, would have been best served to have hosted the event on their own, in separate years, than trying to join forces. But let’s face it. After Hugh Jackman’s tour de force hosting gig last year it would have been difficult for anybody, with the notable exception of Billy Crystal, to follow that act.

I was also very, very disappointed by the In Memoriam tribute. James Taylor did a fine job with his musical accompaniment, but the absence of such industry legends as Farrah Fawcett, Ricardo Montalban, and Beatrice Arthur from the tribute was a serious misstep on the Academy’s part. I’m not the only one feeling gypped by this either. People all over the world were proclaiming “foul” loud and clear this morning because these three were left off the list. It’s just a big mistake that can never be corrected. And a tragic one as well for all those who loved, adored, and who miss them.

Where were the live performances of the Oscar nominated songs? That is one of the highlights of the show for me. Whenever singers, some well known and some not, get the opportunity to showcase their talents on a stage as coveted as the Oscars it is a cause to celebrate. The Academy cheated its viewers on this account last night. No doubt.

And what happened to last year’s wonderful decision to have five past winners present this year’s award in the four acting categories? That was sensational in 2009. I was absolutely thrilled to see that last time. Even though they did have the co-stars/colleagues of the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees give a tribute to them, the glitter introduced by the Academy last year was noticeably absent this March. Thumbs down, Academy. Way down.
Who the hell did Elinor Burkett think she was hijacking Roger Ross Williams' acceptance speech? Kanye West must have possessed her from afar. Lady, you made an ass of yourself and you did it before millions, if not a billion, people. May you not live this one down gracefully. I'd like to see you with mud on your poorly made up face. And that hairdo! Who did that? Duncan Hines?

Now let me focus on what I found thrilling and entertaining and absolutely fabulous about last night’s show.

Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman in history to win as Best Director. The Hurt Locker was a fantastic film that did more than justice to our troops serving in the Middle East. Bigelow absolutely deserved this recognition and triumph. I really thought that Quentin Tarantino would win for Inglorious Basterds, because it truly was the Best Picture in the running, and many industry insiders feel that he’s owed, but Kathryn Bigelow’s win is not something I am contesting or whining about. She worked for that Oscar. I knew the moment I saw Barbra Streisand stride out onstage to present the award that Kathryn was going to win. Streisand herself was robbed of the honor for The Prince of Tides and for her to present this monumental moment to Ms. Bigelow was not only fitting, it was also poignant and right on target. Jane Fonda tweeted that she felt Bigelow should have thanked her ex, James Cameron, but I disagree. Kathryn alone deserved her moment in the spotlight with her Oscar.

Sandra Bullock winning Best Actress for The Blind Side was another high of the evening. Her acceptance speech was just phenomenal. I’ve been a Bullock fan for years and the job she did in this film was not only a breakaway from her usual formula, it was a move in a new direction for an actress who is ready to show what all she is capable of doing. While Gaborey Sidibe undeniably had the standout performance of the year, as Precious, and while Meryl Streep as Julia Child was DELICIOUS in Julie and Julia, I really can’t say that either of these actresses deserved the Oscar over Sandra Bullock. It harks back to Julia Roberts’ win for Erin Brockovich in a way. Sandra Bullock really was the Best Actress of the year.

Jeff Bridges taking home the gold for Crazy Heart was another moment that will go down in Oscar history. When he walked up there and first and foremost thanked his parents, I was won over by his right to be there. Jeff Bridges has done some fine work over the past forty years and this was his fifth nomination, and first win, in his entire career. Jeff Bridges comes from an acting dynasty. He is without question one of Hollywood’s most capable performers. His love of the industry, the Academy, his family, and the whole razzle dazzle, not to mention a searing performance in one of the year’s least celebrated films, gives him the moxie to walk away with an Oscar. And let’s face it. Any man who could stare down a mechanical gorilla to go off into the sunset with Jessica Lange surely planted his feet firmly on Oscar terra firma a long time ago.

Mo’Nique is the one name that defines the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. This wacky comedienne, reality show host (Charm School, anyone?), and fine dramatic actress captured her Best Supporting Actress statuette with the finesse of a pro. Her work in Precious gave chills to everybody who saw the film, but it was her realistic portrayal of Mary Jones that sealed the deal for her. She didn’t even mount that much of a campaign for the award either. She knew she had it in the bag and yet she held back from shouting it from the rooftops because she also knew that Academy politics just might fan the wind away from her. How fitting this wasn’t the case. Her tip-of-the-hat to the legendary Hattie McDaniel was also the cream of the crop in my opinion. Right down to the gardenia in her hair.

Christoph Waltz taking the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor was another highlight of the night. While everybody was betting on Christopher Plummer, Waltz parlayed his role as a Nazi into the surprise win of the year. Yes, he deserved it. He really did. Bravo, Christoph! Bravo!

In my estimation, Inglorious Basterds was unquestionably the Best Picture of the year, but The Hurt Locker and what it represents to our troops gave it the edge it needed to take the prize. Bigelow and company put together an awesome movie that will go down in history as one of the best motion pictures ever produced. This film is a triumph for everyone involved with it, from the actors to the crew to the audiences who raved about it, and I cannot say it doesn’t deserve the acclaim, hoopla, and outstanding honor that it received with its Oscar win. The Hurt Locker proudly takes its place on that shimmering list of Best Pictures of all time.

Why didn’t Avatar win? Because James Cameron is never going to top the artistic masterpiece he created with Titanic. Why didn’t Morgan Freeman win? In spite of his outstanding portrayal of Nelson Mandela, he will never surpass his dual opus of The Shawshank Redemption and Driving Miss Daisy. Why didn’t Meryl win a third time? How could the Academy give it to her and not give it to Gaborey Sidibe? Why didn’t Christopher Plummer take one home? He just couldn’t beat Christoph Waltz, plain and simple as that. Why didn’t Tarantino get the Best Director honor? Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker were just too tough to elbow aside.

Okay, that’s it! My annual Oscar wrap up is over. For this year. (Silly grin.) Let us hope the Academy has the foresight to hire Neil Patrick Harris to host next year’s show. Let’s have that outstanding line up of former acting winners presenting to the new winners make a comeback. Give us back our Oscar nominated song performances. And let’s not leave out industry legends who pass away from the In Memoriam tribute next time, eh? Are you listening, Academy?

I hope so.


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