Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Final thoughts on the Oscars

The ratings were up from last year. And considering no one saw any of the movies in contention, I’d say that’s a feather in Ellen’s cap.  Expect her to be back next year... if she wants it.

Big surprise that John Travolta believes in Scientology.  

What bothered me about the retweeting bit is that it was clearly so calculated to attract younger viewers. And what bothered me more was how desperate Liza Minnelli looked trying to squeeze into the selfie.

Sidney Poittier was not in top form. Kudos to Angelina Jolie for how classy and kind she handled that whole awkward situation. Someone noted that the music they played as he slowly made his way to the podium was “I Will Wait Forever.”

Cate Blanchett said that having Daniel Day Lewis as presenter exacerbated how good it was. Exacerbate means make worse. Probably what she meant was accentuated.

Usually Oscar hosts have long distinguished film careers.  Ellen may not have the screen credits but she was once a judge on AMERICAN IDOL.

Why was Pink chosen to sing “Over the Rainbow” over more established singers? Uh… what’s the audience the Oscars are trying to attract even more desperately than Liza wants to be noticed? 18-34’s. Barbara Cook is not going to get ‘em.

A number of readers wondered why Jack Nicholson was no longer in the front row smirking in his sunglasses. Probably because he’s never heard of half the presenters. “Zac Efron? Who’s he?”

When John Ridley won the Best Screenplay award for 12 YEARS A SLAVE he conspicuously didn’t thank director Steve McQueen. When McQueen made his acceptance speech later he ignored Ridley. Apparently there is bad blood between them. McQueen supposedly tried to get shared writing credit and the WGA disallowed it. Directors wield great power over writers. It’s kinda like that movie about a certain plantation owner.

Don't wanna say I toldja so but here was my review of 20 FEET FROM STARDOM.  I didn't think it would win an Oscar though because it wasn't set in a prison.

Fresh off her Oscar win, Lupita Nyong'o is back in theaters this week in NON STOP.  She has essentially a walk-on. 

At some point the price tag for the rights to air the Academy Awards is going to be so high that the paying network will get to demand the elimination of the production categories on the primetime telecast. You watch.

If Baz Luhrmann gave as much attention to the script as did the art direction, his wife might not be the only one in the family with Oscars. 

If John Travolta had introduced Karen O he would have said, "Here's Kenny G."

Instead of handing out pizzas, Ellen should have critiqued the singing performances.  

I guess I’m not the only one who thought AMERICAN HUSTLE was vastly over-rated.

Thank you ABC for not going from the In Memoriam segment to a promo for RESSERECTION. Or LAST MAN STANDING.

Just because Hollywood makes a good movie doesn’t necessarily mean audiences are going to find it. It might not play in your town, or it may screen in only one or two art theaters. It might not be promoted properly… if at all. Or the subject matter just doesn’t capture the public’s imagination. Unless IRON MAN 3 wins Best Picture there is always going to be somewhat of a disconnect between good and successful.

A number of you noted that THE WIND RISES should have won for Best Animation Feature. Maybe so but it had no chance over FROZEN.

After suffering through some of those endless acceptance speeches thanking lists of people that no one knows I missed playoff music.

If anyone wearing one of those beaded metallic gowns had spilled tomato sauce from the pizza on herself she’d have to get the dress cleaned at a car wash.

I look forward to next year's Oscars when they salute the 76th anniversary of THE WIZARD OF OZ. 

75 comments:

Jon88 said...

Cate Blanchett wants you to know that you misspelled "Poitier" and got the song title wrong in the previous paragraph. She added, "Nyah nyah nyah."

Anonymous said...

Take away the time limit and Cate gets even more creative...she changes gravity (not the movie)

"But there is more. We do more than all that. We must remember the arts do more than just that. We process experience and make experience available and understandable. We change people's lives, at the risk of our own. We change countries, governments, history, gravity. After gravity, culture is the thing that holds humanity in place, in an otherwise constantly shifting and, let's face it, tiny outcrop in the middle of an infinity of nowhere.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/the-arts-are-far-more-than-just-another-industry-20100223-os6w.html

I'm happy to give her a crack at changing Putin if she likes.
cheers
Dave

Terrence Moss said...

I don't find the twitter thing to be as about courting younger viewers as expanding the Best Pictures categories or bring on Hathaway/Franco and McFarlane to host.

Younger people aren't the only ones on Facebook and Twitter and weren't the only ones posting that selfie and tweeting/retweeting.

It was a fun bit and the best use of social media I've seen on awards show -- even those that specifically target those younger viewers.

DwWashburn said...

As much as I love the short subjects from the 30s and 40s, I am still stumped as to why those categories are still recognized by the Academy. Except for revival theater, I have never seen a short subject in a movie house. And that's a shame because the 5 or so second tease they give for each nominee makes me want to watch them. But where in the world would you find them unless you lived in New York or Tinseltown?

thesamechris said...

"Exacerbate" also means "intensify". I guess she meant that, but she just should have said that.

Also, it seems to me a good way for an actress to win an oscar is to play a normal person in public and then just be yourself in a Woody Allen movie. Like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall and now Cate. I'm just assuming.

Throughout the show, I wondered why so many of the presenters tripped over their tongue. There must have been something wrong with teleprompter, I don't know. The best example was Jamie Fox's "Lots of original scores today blow... your mind" So funny and I think he saved it well.

Kate said...

I am decidedly in the minority, I know, but I thought the selfies/pizza delivery slowed the crawling show to a halt. Those things took up so much time, I thought at first Ellen was covering for a presenter stuck in the bathroom.

Hamid said...

I kinda feel sorry for Liza Minnelli.

Well, not really. What was she doing there anyway? I just wonder if the combination of her wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet and the photo of her desperate attempt to be in the photo will drive her back to drink. I know what you'll say, what do I mean "back"?

ally said...

Have you and David been through WGA arbitration over credit? What is that process like? Is it fair? And, just for giggles, have you ever wanted to take David to WGA arbitration?

unkystan said...

Where was Jonathan Winters in the "in memoriam"? Tired of the Academy's lame excuses as to why who's in and who's out.

Floridan said...

Usually Oscar hosts have long distinguished film careers.

Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal have hosted a total of 33 Oscars -- none were ever nominated for a competitive Oscar . Of the six who have hosted more than twice (total of 20 times), three (Whoopie Goldberg, Jack Lemmon and David Niven) were nominated and won Oscars.

rockgolf said...

Travolta has apologized, "not just to Ms. Menzel, but her fellow nominees, Pharmer Wilson, Uzz and Karen Zero."

Kendall said...

Let's not forget Jon Stewart ("Death to Smoochie") and David Letterman ("Cabin Boy").

DonBoy said...

I bet Adele could do a pretty good "Over the Rainbow", and she even already has an Oscar for "Skyfall" so it would have been more appropriate.

RCP said...

I actually enjoyed the Oscars this year - maybe because I only watched the first 15 minutes. Ellen's quip about Liza was funny. As for Liza 'desperately' trying to get into the selfie - from what I can see from the photo, she's standing where she's seated and they are all gathered by her area - it's not like she knocked people out of the way and leapt over rows to get into the shot. Hey SNL...

Igor said...

 
Ken wrote, "After suffering through some of those endless acceptance speeches thanking lists of people that no one knows[,] I missed playoff music."

You should get one of these for everyone in your watching-party, then do it like the old "Gong Show" - see who hits his/hers first:

The Chappelle Show "Wrap it Up" box: http://youtu.be/SVfSnO-w2WI

Nancy said...

Dear Ken,

It's official -- PricewaterhouseCoopers replaced by Twitter.

Your opening comment yesterday might have been the truest -- how many Academy members who voted for it had actually seen "12 Years a Slave"?

How much longer before the production/craft awards are eliminated in the event telecast, to be replaced by "Best Blockbusters" by genre and "Best Newcomers" to the screen - as tweeted by you the public at exactly 8:15 PM PST" to be included instead? I'd look for AMPAS changes as early as next year.

Is the AMPAS Governor's Dinner available on hotel CCTV? Or Pay-Per-View?
NB

nicetrybutstill said...

"Sidney Poitier"

Paul Duca said...

What's your stand on the professional Christian conservatives wetting themselves over how McConaughey thanked God? Give me what he has, and I'd thank Him too.

tim said...

Perhaps Cate Blanchett was distracted by all the exacerbation going on around her.

Murray said...

With examples like John Travolta's gaffe and Cate Blanchett's exacerbating babble fest of a thank you "speech", I always wonder how the Cult of Celebrity Worship continues. After every year's Oscars, why don't people suddenly wake up "Hey, they're just as stumble-mouthed and dufus as the guy in the cubicle across from me at work! They're nothin' special!"

Hamid said...

Paul
What's your stand on the professional Christian conservatives wetting themselves over how McConaughey thanked God? Give me what he has, and I'd thank Him too.

As an atheist, I was put off by his speech a little, but look at it this way: he thanked god for winning an Oscar for playing a man with AIDS in a film that has gay characters and he made his speech on a show hosted by an openly gay woman who has a wife. All of which is a recipe for some serious cognitive dissonance amongst those Christian conservatives who, at this point, probably don't know whether they should celebrate Matthew McConaughey or call him evil.

Lyle said...

I enjoyed Ellen DeGeneres . . . and that's about all. Witty, charming, bright, bubbly . . .

I got to channel surfing and found "Brubaker," and got engrossed in it.
Would check back from time to time but didn't miss a whole lot, as far as I'm concerned.

Thought Ellen did a superb job.

Jack said...

Pink has a bunch of #1 radio hits and has sold over 40 million albums.

That's pretty freakin' established.

Johnny Walker said...

Kim Novak's appearance was apparently sponsored by Vicodin.

Nice to see that the Academy is going to "shape the future" by building a museum. What?

Very happy to see what "Get A Horse" didn't win for Best Animated Short. It felt like a long, dull advert for Disney.

VincentS said...

What's the big deal about Matthew McConaughey thanking God? Can't believers and non-believers co-exist? Criticizing those who invoke God in a place that does not involve government or politics is as bad as the religious right trying to foist their views on everyone.

VincentS said...

...at least that's a type of acknowledgment that he didn't do it all by himself.

Johnny Walker said...

Missing from the In Memoriam: Jonathan Winters, Jim Jacks, Dennis Farina.

Why did they did they make Bette Midler to torture us afterwards? Was it because some people clapped at the beginning?

Interesting to note that Ellen made plenty of jokes that, if Ricky Gervais had said, would have caused a stink. I think people just don't like Ricky Gervais.

tb said...

I, too, missed the play off music. The very first speech, Jared Leto, jeez, I was thinking play the music! Start the damn music already!!

Cap'n Bob said...

Travolta has been relatively low key since his gay bathhouse antics went public. He finally gets a chance to make a harmless public appearance and he blows it. Pun intended.
"Kenny G." Good one, Ken.

Kate: You're not in a minority, I think. I, too, hated the pizza/selfies time wasting shticks. A number of times during the show I yelled at the screen, "Enough! Get on with it!"

Remember the old Glen Campbell Show's opening. John Hartford, then two other guys, then Glen would be planted in the audience. They'd stand one at a time playing "Gentle on My Mind. Glen would stand last, introduce the night's guests, and a commercial would come on. I mention this because Degeneris seemed to do most of the show from the audience or the aisles. I had a feeling she was groping for some improv to do. She should learn to play the banjo because I thought it was lame.

bryan said...

Good point, JW. Ellen is allowed to joke about Jonah Hill's junk but Seth can't joke about boobs. Hollywood's politically correct double standard.

Johnny Walker said...

Side note: Judging people by their belief systems is like judging them by their musical tastes. All rap fans want to be gangsters and refer to women as "bitches". And all Christians are homophobic, don't eat shellfish, don't wear cotton and wool at the same time, and think keeping slaves is acceptable -- because that's what the Bible says. Right?

Being an atheist doesn't mean you're a good person. Believing in God doesn't mean you're a bigot.

Nobody deserves to be criticised for anything other than the content of their character. I'd rather have Fred Rogers as a friend than Jim Jones.

And let me quickly torpedo the obvious comeback by pointing out that I'm an atheist.

kelly childress said...

Is that why they had Will Smith present Best Picture? For the younguns???

Johnny Walker said...

Last time I checked, Seth MacFarlane DID joke about boobs. And who was talking about Seth MacFarlane anyway?

Johnny Walker said...

Interesting note about 12 Years scribe John Ridley: Apparently it's not the first time he's had problems with directors over credit. He also wrote the original script for Three Kings (1999), which the director then extensively rewrote. After the WGA got involved, Ridley's credit was reduced to "Story by".

Not sure if the WGA have been involved this time, Ken. Apparently Fox Searchlight wanted to keep the feud under wraps.

Or at least, that's what this one IndieWire article claims:

Johnny Walker said...

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/oscar-winners-steve-mcqueen-john-ridley-reportedly-beefing-over-12-years-a-slave-screenplay-credit-20140303

John Taylor said...

@ bryan:

I didn't watch the Oscars last year (or ever) but I read enough about it to know that Seth McFarland made a ton of boob jokes, along with dick jokes, etc, so I'm pretty sure he was "allowed" to do it. In fact, short of putting a gun to his head, I doubt if anyone could have stopped him. And yes, lots of people complained about it. If your point is that somehow Ellen Degeneres is immune to criticism because she made dick jokes, I suggest you swing by your favorite Men's Rights forum, Yahoo comments page, or Huffpost comments page, where you can see her being savaged for being an uppity dyke Hollywood libtard. That should soothe your anguish and maybe you can shrug off that cloak of victimhood for a bit.

bob melonosky said...

What bothered me about the selfie bit is that she missed the obvious button that would have made the bit funny. After starting with Meryl Streep and then adding more and more celebs, she should have said, "We can't all fit in the shot. Meryl could you please take the photo?"

Meryl Streep would have played along, moving further and further back and then there would have been the world's biggest selfie and a laugh.

And that's why I should be in Ellen's writing room next year.

Jeffrey Mark said...

I just don't care anymore. Frankly my dear when it comes to the Oscars I don't give a damn.

Anonymous said...

"The ratings were up from last year. And considering no one saw any of the movies in contention, I’d say that’s a feather in Ellen’s cap."

Ken, I'm a fan but - no one saw any of the movies?

Gravity was one of the biggest hits of the year - $270 million domestic; $700 million plus worldwide. (This is the movie that took the most awards.)

American Hustle: $150M domestic; $230M worldwide.

Wolf of Wall Street: $115M domestic; $340M worldwide.

Captain Phillips: $107M domestic; $217M worldwide.

Even the winner, 12 Years a Slave, while not a blockbuster, still took in $50M domestic and $140M worldwide.

The nine Best Picture nominees took in more than a billion and a half worldwide, which make it one of the more popular Best Pic lineups in recent memory.

So - while I think Ellen did fine overall, in fairness you can't say that the ratings were a special triumph for her because the nominated movies weren't popular.

Enjoy the blog - pardon this one minor carp.

Larry V

Artie in Sin City said...

YOU a funny guy!

Ken Levine said...

I refer back to that Rueter's poll that said that 2/3rds of Americans had not seen any of the Best Picture nominees. If true, that's a startling number.

Breadbaker said...

The difference between McFarlane's boobs song and Ellen's subtle joke about Hill's junk, which actually required people to think before they could laugh, is a pretty good description of the difference between their two kinds of humor.

As to McConaughey's reference to God, so long as he didn't thank God for letting him win an Oscar, for which God really doesn't give a hoot, but for blessing him with talent and good health, I don't have any problem, regardless of my personal beliefs. If that's what motivates him and what he feels like honoring in his one short moment, that's his choice. Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto made different choices, and I don't have any problems with theirs, either.

Lorimartian said...

...and what's up with having the orchestra in another building down the street? I know, I know...more space for seats, sets, and instruments. I guess it was the same last year, but when Ellen made the comment about its location, it hit home. It occurred to me that I didn't know where the music was coming from. I understand some Broadway shows have also eliminated the orchestra pit. Seeing a "live" program with music includes the orchestra. IMHO, it just can't be the same experience when the orchestra is relegated to a location behind the stage or in a building down the street.

Having nothing to do with orchestra location, I'll never forget when, during her Oscar acceptance speech for "Erin Brockovich," Julia Roberts addressed the esteemed composer/conductor Bill Conti as "Mr. Baton-man" after he was instructed to play her off. How disrespectful and completely lacking in class.

Mike said...

The poll doesn't appear to limit its respondents to frequent cinema goers. So do only a third of Americans visit the cinema? Possibly, and the nominees are not summer blockbusters. More Americans will watch the nominees after the awards, than before. On TV at Xmas.

Anonymous said...

I see your point, Ken. But it's all relative, isn't it?

Two-thirds of Americans don't watch the Super Bowl. Less than 10 percent of all Americans watch the most popular show on television. As you have noted many times, the entertainment world offers us so many options these days that there is little chance that any single movie, for example, will ever be seen by as large a percentage of the country as that which saw Gone With the Wind, or The Best Years of Our Lives, back in the day when movies dominated the field.

There have been years recently when the slate of Best Picture nominees has been much less popular as a group than was the case this year. Some times there are no blockbusters at all on the list. Which is fine with me, if that is what merit dictates. My point was that this year's slate was a fairly popular slate by recent standards.

Thank you for responding - much appreciated.

Larry V

Anonymous said...

There's a Punk version of "Over the Rainbow", I think by Lemon Head, that would have blown everyone away and make PInk go home. They also do "Ring of Fire" which must have Johnny Cash up, dancing on top of his grave and "Mr. Robinson" that's better than the S & G original.

Nancy said...

@Lorimartian -- I believe Julia Roberts actually addressed conductor Bill Conte as "Stick-Man" during the latter portion of her acceptance speech, which was even more disrespectful.

I agree with your assessment of the orchestra's remote location as the "band down the block." How long before they just get a group from London and plug them in as needed.....? We're far from the big overture conducted by a distinguished composer opening the proceedings. The Academy is completely confused about music in films now, and the make-up of their expert music branch voters should be feeling that seismic shift. That snafu with the Music Branch and Bruce Broughton's rescinded nomination was the opening salvo in a pitched battle that will ultimately force most of the music in future shows to be a "Grammys"-show style inclusion with pop stars of sufficient wattage to drive the youth ratings as we move forward. Or else....

Ron Rettig said...

Ken,
Alfonso Cuaron was given walk off music in Best Editing Award. As soon as he started to speak after Sanger talked on and on the music played . Fortunately he could speak when he won directing award!

Mr First Nighter said...

At the grocery store I noticed that Ben & Jerry's has put Ellen's picture on pints of vanilla

pumpkinhead said...

Kenny G. Love that.

Stanley Scott said...

AMERICAN HUSTLE wasn't the only "overrated" film on display Sunday night. I would add GRAVITY, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, ALL IS LOST, WOLF OF WALL STREET, NEBRASKA, and HER...

Stanley Scott said...
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Steve said...

Re: Nicholson

Haven't there been reports of his health not being that great nowadays? I think he's also a big fan of Billy Crystal as host, so that may be another reason why he wasn't there.

Steve said...

Johnny Walker:

While I don't think she's been viewed by many as anything more than a trainwreck/joke in years, I could see Liza becoming a sympathetic figure if Gervais had made that same "impersonator" joke about her.

mmryan314 said...

I hate to be a slug in this Oscar blogfest but if I was even a slightly notable performer or close to the age of 60, I'd stay far far away from any camera or microphone at the event. HEAR that for next year people?

Albert Giesbrecht said...

And all Christians are homophobic, don't eat shellfish, don't wear cotton and wool at the same time, and think keeping slaves is acceptable -- because that's what the Bible says. Right?

Jesus did away with those Laws, so Christians don't have to follow them.

Dale said...

I had no idea Winters had died. :-(

Dale said...
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Dale said...
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Hamid said...

I've caught up with the full show, having only watched bits of it before, and the most cringeworthy moment had to be Liza hugging Lupita Nyong'o when she won Best Supporting Actress. As D. McEwan said in the previous thread, it was because Lupita was on camera and was right near where Liza was sitting. It was such a desperate grab for attention. The unspoken rule is only those who know the winner personally and/or worked on the film can get in on the moment. I'm surprised Liza didn't try and hug the sound team from Gravity.

Dale said...

This is simply how music is now made. Recording sessions are usually produced via emails. It is not uncommon for musicians at separate locations to play together as a live performance.

There are two major labels left, I believe. Universal and Sony. The recording industry is dead. The vast majority of music is self financed these days. The recording field has been levelled. However this makes marketing problematic for bands who effectively attempt to tour on the back of unknown music.

As for where does the music come from in films? The silent era is over. Cinemas have not had orchestras for many decades. And don't think the musicians union did not go up in arms when talkies were introduced. Thousands of musicians were out of work because of talkies.

However this is not a music industry blog. So I'll just shut up.

Oh and Johnnie, atheists protest because other people try to enforce their belief systems on others through legislation and all manner of advertising.

They still kill people for atheism mate. Indeed, one can be gaoled in New Zealand on blasphemy charges.


Crap, where did that soap box come from??

Johnny Walker said...

@bob melonosky That WAS the joke -- but nobody got it. That's when Bradley Cooper offered to take it because he had "longer arms". Looks like you and the writers think alike!

Mike said...

Yeah, that's why the show overran. The half hour of silence when someone asked who would tip the pizza delivery boy.

Mike said...

And that selfie - it's the new internet meme. Accompanied by the caption "Sorry to hear your mother died".

Anonymous said...

I was thinking, so that's Adele's last name. Hmm, that doesn't look like her.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more.

Chad said...

I honestly find it hard to believe that anybody really gives a crap about the tucking Academy Awards. Why the hell would anybody waste one second of their all-too-short lifetime on what Ellen said or what Liza did or whose name John mispronounced? Honest to god, who the fuck really cares about any of it?

MuffinMan21571 said...

More likely the reason Jack Nicholson didn't attend was a) the fact that he's about to turn 77 soon and hasn't been seen much as of late (including on-screen and at Laker games, though that could be because they suck now), and/or b) he didn't feel like returning after being shoved aside for Michelle Obama's ego...

Tallulah Morehead said...
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Tallulah Morehead said...
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Hank Gillette said...

Jesus did away with those Laws, so Christians don't have to follow them.

That would have been news to Jesus. Matthew 5:17

D. McEwan said...

When Matthew McConaughey began in on "God," I thanked God, for inventing the Fast-Forward button. When I figured I'd be safely past detailing how and why God had decided he should have an Oscar [God to Chewitall - according to the Church of McConaughey: "F**K off!"], I went back to normal speed, just in time to learn that the 10-years-in-the-future Matthew is his own hero. I was so deeply moved by the courage of this man to declare himself his own hero on international television, which any boob would know makes one look like an egotisical jackass, that I fell upon the Fast-Forward button again, and did not stop this time until Matt had left the stage. Clearly I was unworthy to watch such a great role-model prattle on.

My hero is Matthew McConaughey in 100 years. He'll be ten times greater than he'll be in a mere decade, plus he'll be dead.

Judith said...

I thought American Hustle was vastly underrated.

Joshua said...

@DwWashburn: I'm surprised that you haven't seen any short subjects on recent films in theaters. All the Pixar films since 1998 have been accompanied by shorts, and nine of those shorts had been, or would go on to be, nominated for Oscars (two of which won).

In addition, this year's nominee "Get a Horse!" accompanied Frozen.

In addition, Shorts International has been distributing compilations of all the Oscar-nominated shorts to theaters each year for the last few years. The compilation was playing in 143 theaters last weekend.

jbryant said...

Chad wrote: "Why the hell would anybody waste one second of their all-too-short lifetime on what Ellen said or what Liza did or whose name John mispronounced? Honest to god, who the fuck really cares about any of it?"

So Chad, let me guess -- you get up every morning and go straight to work at some important charity, feed the homeless on your lunch break, then spend your evenings imparting moral lessons to your children until bedtime, when you and the wife sit up for a couple of hours planning ways to improve your community. You never watch TV or movies, because let's face it, they're mostly disposable entertainment, and the only music and sports you patronize are your kids' piano recitals and soccer games. You never make small talk with your friends, except to lecture them about their misplaced priorities. Is that about right?