general discussion

The Oscars (or: I’ll never get those four hours of my life back)

As the temperatures in Los Angeles dropped, the Kodak Theatre rolled out the red carpet for the 83rd annual Academy Awards. I’m sure many of my fellow film enthusiasts stocked up on snack food and parked themselves in front of the TV or computer to see who wore what and how well, how many awards The King’s Speech would get and whether there were any upsets for the winners. I, myself, went out to Harrow to watch the ceremony with my friend Riikka.

expectations for televised oscars are never a reality

It was a change for me to stay up so late watching the show. Over here it didn’t start until 1:30 am, so we had about…7 hours to kill beforehand. What better way to kill time before a show about movies than to…watch movies? We chose The Wicked Lady starring Margaret Lockwood. It’s a really famous Gainsborough melodrama from the mid 1940s, Britain’s sort-of answer to Gone with the Wind, and it was hilarious. The thing is, I’m not sure if that was intentional, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to do a Wicked Lady/GWTW comparison post…with screencaps!

Back to the Oscars…

It started off on a really good note: a tribute to Gone with the Wind! Huzzah! And the good times lasted about 30 seconds before the whole show took a drastic turn. I didn’t think the Oscars ceremony could get any worse after the complete awkward-fest that was last year’s show. But I was wrong. Oh, so wrong. Two major things: the writing was terrible, and so were the hosts. Who thought it was a good idea to ask James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host the biggest awards show in Hollywood? I bet this person is not taking phone calls today. I felt sorry for Anne, at least she put in an effort, but I’m pretty sure James Franco was too busy getting high and tweeting backstage because he was terrible. Apparently he made a comment about Ricky Gervais going too far as the host of the Golden Globes, but honey, you sucked. It’s sad, because James Franco is funny in general, but maybe his humor comes from the fact that he has the personality of a perpetual stoner, and when that’s played out in real life, it’s just not that funny?  Maybe he wasn’t high enough? Maybe he didn’t care?

insert random vivien leigh gif here. via frivolouswhim on tumblr

Either way, it was almost painful to watch. “Mind-numbing” is the word I used last night. This show was so vanilla I could barely handle it. And the winners, how predictable were they? I haven’t seen The Fighter so can’t comment on Melissa Leo’s performance (and I was so braindead from boredom I missed her F-bomb), but I thought Hailee Steinfeld should have won something for True Grit. She was fantastic. I’m sad Javier bardem didn’t win for Biutiful, it looks fantastic, and he is fantastic. I use that word a lot. Fantastic. The only person I was really excited to see win was Colin Firth. He is just so hot right now, that Colin Firth, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Bless.

via jesusgregkinnear on tumblr

The most disappointing bit for me, as usual, was the lack of quality montages. I understand that the guy who used to do them died, but surely there is another motion graphics designer in LA who can produce some quality clips? They said they’d be looking back at old Hollywood, but if James Franco dressed as Marilyn Monroe was the highlight of the evening, I just–I don’t even know anymore. Even the “In Memoriam” montage was disappointing, and one would think it would be pretty hard to screw that one up. Simply google a list of famous people that have departed from us in the past year and BAM, montage. They didn’t even include Jean Simmons! I thought, “Surely they would include Jean, the departed celebrity from 2010 that I miss the most, since they failed to show her last year,” but no. And no offense to Lena Horne, because she was amazing, but why did she get  singled out for a special tribute? And why was Gwennyth Paltrow singing on stage? Who invited her? Oscars, who’s running this show? James Franco?

I really do think that if I hadn’t watched this show with a friend, I would have turned it off and fallen asleep after the first 5 minutes. Try again next year, Oscars. I don’t know why I can’t quit you in the end.

EDIT: Apparently they did show Jean Simmons last year, which shows how closely I was paying attention. My mistake, but this still stands. Jean forever!

Kendra has been the weblady at since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (11)

  1. Wow that’s a stunning photo of Jean Simmons; I’ve never seen that one before. I’m in agreement with you on all your points on the ceremony. The Academy probably felt guilty they never gave Ms. Horne an honorary Oscar years ago. Also, I’ve always wondered what it would be like if they brought back the special “juvenile Oscars” that they used to give out back in the 1930s and 1940s. That way, performances like Hailee’s could be recognized.

  2. They cut the montages out to save time, apparently. Have to squeeze more ad breaks in! James Franco was probably acting like that intentionally as a piece of performance art. (I actually half believe this.)

  3. I went to see yesterday the rather overrated (in my opinion ) “Black Swan” and I was pretty sure Natalie Portman would win;of course she is beautiful and talented but, most of, all she is the hottest name in town and her role in the picture is on of the classic “Oscar – roles”. very happy about Colin Firth victory and very bored by the show as a whole: I do agree with you, Kendra! but who is to blame?

    This guy’s critique of the show made a really good point I thought concerning the hosts: “And that is why they hire comics, who live in the moment, even when they have prepared material. They do insincerity by topping it with intelligence and a skill for reflecting what the audience is thinking… By hiring actors, they got a show that was dependent on the script.”

    God knows I was *really* disappointed w/ Steve Martin last year, but I think they should stick w/ comedians as hosts. If anything, it’s amusing when celebs can’t take a joke at their own expense.
    But yeah, the thing as a whole was horribly boring. Also it just didn’t seem to flow well (like more so than other years). The ending w/ the kids choir was laughably bad & awkward to watch. And I missed the classic movie montages as well. Best part for me hands down was Colin Firth. But really… he could stand on stage all night talking and he’d have my full attention. haha

  5. I was disappointed with the entire show last year, as well. It was so awkward. What was with those kids at the end? Why were they there? How was that even relevant to…anything? I guess Somewhere Over the Rainbow ties in to the whole “Old Hollywood” theme, but really it was just confusing.

    Stephen Colbert for host 2012

  6. The whole thing was a mess. I personally can’t stand James Franco and he was beyond awful. Poor Anne was left trying to be upbeat and excited to make up for both of them. She was ok, but she needed to not screech into her mike, like for instance when she introduced Steven Spielberg and she let out a huge “whoooo!” for him. Honey, you’re miked, that was really loud! I agree, comedians make better hosts because they are better at improvising and changing their tone as the show progresses. James and Anne were just script readers.

    Usually they have some sort of theme for the show. I remember one year it was Film Noir and they would show clips and the whole stage looked like it was from the 40’s. And one year recently, they did clips of past winners of the award as they announced the winner from that year. I really liked that. This year, it was a giant hodge podge. When they did the clip of GWTW, I thought maybe then they were going to do clips the whole show of past Best Picture winners. But no, they had a random Grauman’s Chinese set, a Shrek background, a “first televised awards from the 50’s set”—it was such a random mess.

    They had the energy and time to make this terrible montage which included Harry Potter and Twilight set to synthisizers but didn’t have time to make a decent one for classic films?

    I liked the In Memoriam montage; I am not a Celine Dion fan but I liked that she sang “Smile.” But I do think Cammie King earned a spot in there more than random agents.

    Does anyone remember the year where they made all the nominees stand on the stage as their category was read? Their thinking was that this would cut down the time as they wouldn’t have to wait for people to get to the stage. I thought that was horrid. Half the fun of winning is sitting in your seat and the look of surprise and the triumphant walk to the microphone. They took that away so that people could stand there and look on politely as the winner did their speech right in front of them. Maybe the moron who had that idea is the same one who decided to hire James and Anne as hosts!

  7. Colbert would be the best host ever for them. I’m surprised they haven’t gotten him to do it yet.

    And yeah, I like the idea of a theme for the show. Makes sense and would keep things from going off into awkward, random-ville. The one thing I really loved this year was that montage of Best Picture nominations (when the award was about to be presented). I thought it was an excellent idea to use Firth/George VI’s speech to tie everything together.

    1. I liked the Best Film montage, as well, but I can see how people thought it a bit awkward in itself because they didn’t use audio from any of the other films. It was pretty obvious already that The King’s Speech would win, but that kind of rubbed it in everyone else’s face

  8. Yea…that’s very true. I heard that same criticism from other people, and then I felt bad for not thinking anything of it until I read that. Seriously every year I think, “I really shouldn’t care about the Oscars,” because it’s such an overrated, unfair competition. But I still get excited about them. It’s kinda like watching a car crash.

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