The Kids Aren’t All Right

There was just about a half an hour of red-carpet time left before the start of last night’s Oscar telecast when ABC cut to an interview featuring  Reese Witherspoon with the “west coast editor of Vanity Fair,” a title that really does say a lot. What followed was dim-witted enough–Ms. Witherspoon was pleasant but utterly without anything to say–that I was all but tuned out when the west coast editor asked this: “So, tell us…does Oscar night ever get old?”

Now the odds of the answer to that question being either a surprise or even slightly interesting were, of course, zero.

Too bad there isn’t some way the viewers of the program could have responded instead, as I’m pretty sure the answer would have been a resounding yes.

As a matter of fact, last night’s show wore out its welcome fast…pretty much the instant a vaguely wasted-looking James Franco and the stunning but vapid Anne Hathaway came onstage for the first ever slacker hosting of the Academy Awards. Dudes, it was awful.

In what now seems to me almost another life, I used to write about the movies and even imagined myself something of a student of the Oscars. What I could never figure out back then was why an event celebrating the pinnacle of show business was invariably such a rotten bit of show business. Well, the beat goes on.

Part of the problem is that the Oscar telecast never takes advantage of its biggest asset: Access to miles and miles of film footage from this year’s movies and from those of years past. I mean, what would you rather watch: Francis Ford Coppola standing mute on stage for a round of applause…or five minutes of The Godfather? Jeff Bridges telling Jennifer Lawrence how cute she is…or a longer scene from her brilliant performance in Winter’s Bone?

I thought the low point was the presentation of the bloated list of Best Picture nominees…ten of them no less. In the interest of time but not actual interest, this was compressed into a montage of outtakes shown with the  big speech from The King’s Speech as a kind of weirdly appropriate soundtrack. Colin Firth’s disembodied words were, after all, a warning to the public that it should brace itself for something terrible.

I say, spot on sir!

12 thoughts on “The Kids Aren’t All Right

  1. I’ve become so inured to the tedium of the Oscars that I can’t bring myself to complain about it … as I watch it from beginning to end every goddam year. As a serious fan of Anne Hathaway’s I thought she was at least up for the show. But Franco — “stoned” would be generous. Frankly, my Oscar mojo evaporated when Christopher Nolan wasn’t even nominated for “Inception”. The guy that won Best Director … come on. Somebody else handed you a terrific script. You’ve got three AAA pros in the leading roles — how tough was that directing job, really? Simultaneously Nolan concocts every word and every frame out of his own head … and he’s ignored? (That said, he should have trimmed that bad James Bond skiing segment by half.)

    But then, “Oliver!” beat “2001”, “Rocky” beat “Network” and “The Big Lebowski” wasn’t even nominated.

    1. Mr. Lambert knows his movies and if he declares himself a fan of Ms. Hathaway, who am I to argue? I am tempted to ask the judges exactly what he means by that, but I’m pretty sure I already know and probably agree.

  2. Dennis Lang says:

    As I recall from Mr. Souder’s writing on film–sadly missed–is what distinguished him from most writing today who are more “entertainment reviewers” than genuine film critics. His analysis of the movie could be more interesting than the movie itself, invariably enriching our understanding and experience of it.

    Yes, can’t help but wonder what those Academy Award Show pre-production meetings, with all that ultra-expensive creative talent, are like. Even the often dazzling montage work was a little off in this one.

  3. Joe Loveland says:

    William, last night I made the same point to my wife that you made above: More film clips, less podium stuff. They need to take a tip from The Grammy’s, the only watchable award show in my opinion, and feature more of the end product performances, less of the blathering unscripted performers.

    By the way, I think it would be cool if Brian wanted to shake off his movie/TV critic rust and drop a review on the Crowd now and again.

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Agreed. For a blog, ostensibly exploring how we communicate with each other, the view-point of Souder and Lambert, thoughtful and experienced writers of the medium, on current and past film would be terrific. For instance, last week on TCM, the film “You Can’t take it With You”, 1938, stunningly evoking the anomie likely felt by millions today in a society driven by mega-corporations and forces beyond our control.

  4. Jim Leinfelder says:

    In this country, lacking a monarchy, we make our movie stars into kings and queens and princes and princesses, etc. You cannot use members of the royal court to poke fun at the royals, which is what the Oscar telecast brain trust was attempting to do using Mr. Franco and Ms. Hathaway as the evening’s hosts. Only the motley fool, the jester, resplendent in his bells and curly-toed shoes can get away with and successfully tweak the nose of the king and queen and their court by speaking truth openly to them in their own court. That’s why the only highlights of the evening were Billy Crystal cameo reprise and the spectral return of Bob Hope, men, who, yes, have been in movies, but are not movie stars, but fools, talented, cleverly adroit fools.

  5. bertram jr says:

    Ah, Lambroni, I certainly share your admiration for the , er ,”skills” of Ms. Hathaway.

    However, I must ask why you and the rest of the libeeral Hollywood lapdogs completely, and I mean COMPLETELY ignored “Waiting for Superman”?

    Also, would you try to include reference to the EXTANT data on the reading, writing and ‘rithmatic skills of Wisconsin 8th graders when pontificating about entitlements for teachers unions?

    It would be downright refreshing.

    But alas, I know you have a rather personal bias in regards to the teacher’s union, no?

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      “Waiting for Superman” is insightful, devastating documentary. Too late for this years’ awards maybe?

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