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!