Until next year
And the loser is...Boyhood, the odds on favorite to waltz off with the Best Picture and Best Director statues at Sunday night’s Oscar giveaway. Patricia Arquette, clearly cashing in on an endorsement deal with Supercuts, was the only participant in the epic shoot to take home the gold. An anonymous Academy voter made clear the reasoning behind the selection of Arquette for both an Oscar and Golden Globe, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “If she had had work done during the 12 years, she would not be collecting these statues.”
Neil Patrick Harris, the first Oscar emcee ever to perform a portion of the hosting duties wearing nothing but tighty-whities and a pair of Florsheims, kicked things off in brilliant form with an opening number that combined the best of Billy Crystal’s sniggeringly sarcastic lyricism and Hugh Jackman’s “roots in Broadway” song-and-dance-man over-theatrical theatricality. Golden statues, suspended from above like giant Oscar rearview air fresheners, set the stage for NPH’s magical Leonard Zelig CG stroll through a brief history of Oscar favorites.
The moment things began taking what looked to be a turn for the reverential “moving pictures, shadows and light” worse, Jack Black leapt from his seat to pull a scripted Kanye by inserting a well-needed dose of blather-bursting sarcasm, attacking everything from Hollywood execs and their penchants for “pitching tents for tent poles” to viewers paying more attention to the iPhone “screens in their jeans.” No sooner did the injurious ditty end than NPH pulled things back down to reality by patting PR agents on the back for their ability to sell the eight nominated films to the tune of a combined $600 million box office take.
Sadly, NPH didn’t pack enough material for his first tour of Oscar duty. Apart from a few well-placed ad libs peppered throughout, much of his scripted post-opening banter fell flat. He managed to save himself in the end with a running gag involving magic and his Oscar picks contained in a locked suitcase and sealed onstage in a lucite cube for all to see. He assigned the role of audience watchdog to Octavia Spencer. In the time it would have taken the Oscar-winning actress for The Help to pop one of Minnie’s pies out of the oven, NPH had mysteriously pulled an old switcheroo resulting in an impressive feat of show-capping illusion.
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The evening’s standout moment came when Pawel Pawlikowski took to the stage to accept the best foreign language film award for his movie, Ida. In the past, long-winded winners were first played off and, in extreme cases, had their mic volume cut. Pawlikowski would have nothing to do with the orchestra’s taunts. The director bears the distinction of being of the few — if not the only — acceptee to twice be played off.
The glaring omission of Joan River’s name in the necrology rankled many a Facebook friend. Hardly a movie star — Rabbit Test and voicing a robot for Mel Brooks do not a career as an actress make — people were still upset to see the thick-skinned Academy honor fellow cinematic fringe-dwellers Maya Angelou and Geoffrey Holder while slighting Joan. Frank Howard wrote, “She practically invented the red carpet. It’s because she had a big mouth and made fun of the Oscars. For shame.”
Each year brings at least one throat-sticking moment that’s impossible to cough up. This year’s choker commenced with Miles Teller turning to his co-presenter and saying, “Margot [Robbie] and I were honored to host the scientific and technical awards, which were held two weeks ago.” Among the recipients were screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (six of the 100+ titles in his filmography were collaborations with Luis Buñuel); anime guru Hayao Miyazaki; actor, singer, and civil rights activist, Harry Belafonte; and living legend Maureen O’Hara.
What did Jennifer Hudson’s post-roll call of the dead dirge have to do with anything? The song, “I Can’t Let Go,” written for the TV series Smash, contains no link to cinema whatsoever. Wouldn’t our time have been better spent honoring the recipients of the technical awards — headliners who not only represented the old guard but made sterling contributions to the art of cinema? I say we reinstate both the Governor’s and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards as part of the show. Seriously, you give ample TV time to the star of Fifty Shades of Grey and funnyman Kevin Hart while short shrifting Maureen O’Hara, an accomplished actress who in her day eclipsed just about everyone in the room? And surely Belafonte — a man who accompanied Dr. King on his march to Selma — would have lent more credibility to the proceedings than a couple of rap stars with a song to sell.
Random thoughts and observations:
The five-star Scorsese-narrated Apple Oscar spot — the commercial about “Not Just Dreaming but Doing” — had more going for it than any of the best picture nominees.
Talk of suicide was followed by an Alzheimer’s tune. That’s entertainment! Why not an ISIS beheading video to lighten things up?
The Grand Budapest Hotel — or as I like to call it, spittle for mental deficients who have lost the will to drool — took home four coveted doorstops.
Eddie Redmayne didn’t use a speech-synthesizer while making his “thank yous.”
The trek for this year’s winners from seat to stage seemed to take forever. Did they park the nominees next door in the Chinese Theatre?
Just for mean-spirited shits and giggles, next year the orchestra should begin playing off any winner the second the word “suicide” is mentioned in their acceptance speech.
Archie Bunker’s granddaughter was nominated for an Oscar?!
His best friend should have told Terrence Howard they don’t give acting awards to presenters.