Monday, March 3, 2014

It's over! Let ordinary life commence

Yes, I watched.

And, yes, I thought it was a mostly lackluster show in which Ellen DeGeneres -- after a decent beginning -- went progressively downhill. Say this, though, DeGeneres seemed relaxed throughout, which is a relief from the usual straining for laughs that torments most Oscar hosts.

I tweeted during the show. Thankfully, the world only lost a few minutes of my wisdom when DeGeneres attempted to show that she too could tweet, and crippled Twitter in the bargain.

The pizza bit? OK, I get that the Oscar show is a bit of an ordeal. Stars can build powerful appetites carrying all that jewelry around, and it's never wise to pass up a chance to make fun of Harvey Weinstein. But very few jokes get better with repetition.

But wait, the pizza gag did have one abiding virtue. Tell me you haven't always wanted to see Brad Pitt handing out paper plates.

It definitely was weird watching Gravity collect award after award while 12 Years a Slave waited in the wings, ready to pounce on the big prize, best picture.

I noticed a definite decline in wit from fellow tweeters this year, and I, too, fell prey to what amounted to a mostly boring evening in which, for me, the most touching moment came from seeing James Gandolfini in the one place I never wanted to see him: Oscar's "In Memoriam" section.

Stupidity? There was some: Only Hollywood could assemble a montage dedicated to ordinary heroes that managed to put Lincoln, Muhammad Ali and Mel Gibson in the same segment. No further comment is necessary.

There seemed to be no purpose to a second hero montage, other than to demonstrate that Hollywood sometimes makes movies that lots of people actually see -- not always the case with the Oscar-nominated movies.

Here, to wrap up the endless awards season and with no gloating that my predictions were all on the money, a few of my favorite tweets:

-- It was great to see Steve McQueen jumping up and down with happiness after 12 Years a Slave won best picture. The hell with restraint.
-- Jared Leto, winner of the Oscar for best-supporting actor, gave a great acceptance speech, showing big-time improvement since his appearance at the Golden Globes.
-- American Hustle was one of my favorite movies of the year, and I was sorry that it didn't win a damn thing.
-- Matthew McConaughey's acceptance speech for best actor proved to me that if there's ever an Elmer Gantry remake, he's the man for the job.
-- If I ever win an award, I'm going to ask Darlene Love to accept it for me. She appeared with best documentary winner, 20 Feet From Stardom.

-- This was a strange year. It was difficult to find a movie on the best-picture list that didn't have some detractors. I've met folks who didn't like any of the frontrunners: Gravity, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave.
-- Good to see Spike Jonze win best original screenplay for Her. What a concept. An original script that really was ...well... original.
-- I can't think of anything to say about Kim Novak that doesn't sound cruel.
-- Someone decided to put typewriters on the set when they handed out the awards for best screenplay. Bold imaginative touch, no?
-- Just to prove that Oscar knows how how spread the largess, even The Great Gatsby won two Oscars, best costumes and best production design.
-- Whenever I hear someone sing Over the Rainbow, I think of Margaret Hamilton and those terrifying flying monkeys. Yes, I'm sick that way.
-- Lupita Nyong'o -- winner of the award for best supporting actress -- should be en route to a long career. Let's see if Hollywood finds ways to make good on her promise.
-- Maybe it's just me, but I think there's a hidden meaning in the fact that Ellen DeGeneres put on a white tuxedo to introduce Brad Pitt. Don't think about it.
-- Congrats to the Starz Denver Film Festival for shining an early spotlight on The Great Beauty, winner of this year's best foreign-language film award.
-- Wouldn't it have been wonderful to see Kevin Spacey host the Oscars as Francis Underwood, the conniving character he plays in House of Cards? Could have taken snark to new heights.
-- The band mostly resisted playing people off the stage, but intruded on the recipients of the short film awards, the one group that truly needs a moment in the spotlight.
-- About midway through, I had an alarming thought. "Horror of horrors, the damn show is trying to be tasteful."
-- In introducing the best-picture montage that included Wolf of Wall Street, Harrison Ford said the movie was a cautionary tale. What was the warning? Don't get caught?
-- Jimmy Kimmel turned up in a pre-Oscar skit that made me wince.

If you watched the warm-up to Oscar and the show itself, you spent a long day journeying into what seemed an even longer night. You deserve an award for sticking with a show that proved entirely predictable to those who -- for whatever reasons -- pay attention during awards season.

So how do I finish this ramble and get to sleep? I'll offer this: I've seen worse Oscar shows, and -- optimist that you know me to be -- I hope one day to see better.

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