Monday, February 23, 2015

My (sort of) review of the Oscars

Since I am in Korea I was unable to watch the Academy Awards.  And no Korean channel shows them.  Maybe next year when THE INTERVIEW is nominated for Best Picture. So I wrote my snarky review before I left. I’ve done this before. Let me know how right I was.

Most people in America thought this was the first time Neil Patrick Harris ever hosted an awards show.

Harris had good moments but was better hosting the Tony Awards. And again, most of America is saying, “What are the Tony Awards?”

Spielberg did not attend because he wasn’t nominated.

Channel 5’s Sam Rubin gushed that every big star in the world was there and then was grateful to interview Richard Linklater’s daughter.

And at least one of the Red Carpet hosts asked her, “So you have the same last name as the director. Coincidence or are you related?”

Another asked her: “So Art Linkletter is your father?”

They did not take my suggestion for doing a Red Carpet Show version of In Memoriam for Joan Rivers.

You cannot remember who hosted last year’s Oscarcast. You probably can’t remember who won Oscars last year either although, as a hint, they were presenters this year. You still can’t name them, can you?

More people here in China know who is Rita Ora is than in America.

Anna Kendrick looked spectacular. So did Sienna Miller.

You’d think after totally fucking up last year, the Academy would not have John Travolta be a presenter again. How many stars had to say no for this to happen?

There was a bit using the audience that surprisingly worked thanks to Neil Patrick Harris.

Julianne Moore was a lock. She played the more fashionable disability this year.

Lots of jokes about how "white" the nominations were.   And lots of African-American presenters so the Academy could save face. 

Eddie Murphy came off bitter.  Why isn't he a bigger star?  Because he's always bitter. 

If BOYHOOD had followed nine years of the kid’s life instead of twelve there would have been no contest.   As it is, the Best Picture went to B_______.

Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple, who were mega stars in the ‘30s and ‘40s only got fleeting mentions in the In Memoriam section.

Remember how “concerned” and stricken Hollywood was over free speech and Paris at the Golden Globes? Not a word mentioned at the Oscars.

However, you would think that Amy Pascal, who took the fall for THE INTERVIEW, was the martyr of all-time. She was acknowledged six or seven times. Amy of Arc.

It was sad that Glen Campbell couldn’t sing his Oscar nominated song.

No Hollywood star knows how to read a teleprompter.

Jennifer Lopez’s tits almost popped out of her dress, which is why she is still considered a movie star.

When you saw Kevin Hart, did you say (a) “he’s really short” or (b) “How is he a movie star?”

Tegan and Sara were hot. Well… Sara was. Of the two identical twins she clearly got the looks.

FOXCATCHER won the award for Best Picture nominee that most academy members hated.

Ben Affleck was a presenter and there was a Batman joke. Yawn.

There were also eight FIFTY SHADES OF GREY jokes. Better do them now. It won’t be nominated for anything next year (since there’s no category for props).

At least the Grammys had Kanye West to liven things up. There were two Kanye West jokes – one in the opening monologue.

The intrusive play-off music began the minute any winner acknowledged his dearly departed mom/dad/grandfather/manager/pet. 

Lady Gaga was a hit.   Even though she's never been in a movie and was only there as a blatant desperate attempt to get young viewers.  Still she kicked ass... even without Tony Bennett.  

And she didn’t wear a meat dress, although that would not have been the worst gown of the night.

There were at least two shots of Oprah in the audience unhappy.

There were billboards in LA for the film VIRUNGA the last few weeks. Yes, I know – what is VIRUNGA? Best Documentary films now mount campaigns.

Jennifer Aniston was a presenter in the hopes that the Academy will nominate her the next time she does a courageous role where she wears no make up.  In the meantime, back to stupid comedies with Adam Sandler.

The show ran long.  

Okay... so how did I do?   


Dan Ball said...

I watched vicariously through my friends, but you were pretty damn close, Ken.

I don't know about Spielberg not attending, but I did see his former pal and jail-dodger John Landis in the audience.

Julianne Moore won. I don't know if Eddie Murphy was bitter, but I heard he was all-business like SNL40. Boo.

Oprah was happy because she got a Lego Oscar.

The show DID go long and I wasn't even watching it! (I was waiting for the results so I'd know if I won the pool or not. The losers had to buy used DVDs of whatever movies the winner wanted. Now I gotta buy my friend Steve a copy of some Scorsese movie...maybe KING OF COMEDY.)

YEKIMI said...

Only saw the last hour. Was watching Hot Tub Time Machine 2 earlier. It's a toss up if I got the better deal.

Oat Willie said...

There was a rousing Charlie Hebdo tribute, complete with old fashioned Broadway kickline and CGI fireworks.

SBell in San Mateo said...

Shirley Temple Black was named in last year's 'In Memorium'. But Joan Rivers was not mentioned last night.

C. Warren Dale said...

Lady Gaga has been in, at least, MACHETE KILLS and SIN CITY 2.

Dirk Belligerent said...

>"Lady Gaga was a hit. Even though she's never been in a movie"

Incorrect. She had bit parts in Machete Kills and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Regardless, she was the hands-down high point of the show, absolutely KILLING the Sound of Music medley in front of Julie Andrews to boot. Dunno how many kids managed to stay up until 11:15 EST to see her.

Terrence Moss said...

I wouldn't say she killed it. She did well but was trying too hard to impress.

Mike Barer said...

I remembered Ellen from last year, specifically because Neil Patrick was not as fan friendly.

VP81955 said...

"Lady Gaga was a hit. Even though she's never been in a movie"

Incorrect. She had bit parts in "Machete Kills" and "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For."

And that's still a superior film career to Tony Bennett's. (After "The Oscar," he was wise enough not to quit his day job.)

MikeN said...

Eddie Murphy was probably a last-minute addition. He has hated SNL for almost 20 years because they had David Spade put his picture up and say 'Everybody make a wish. It's a falling star.'

PlumTor said...

Julie Andrews immediately followed Lady Gaga's performance of songs from The Sound of Music. It would have been great if SHE presented the next award while wearing a meat dress.

Mike McCann said...


You need to start picking stocks. That was as good a crystal ball performance as Jeanne Dixon ever had. Maybe better.

RockGolf said...

Neil Patrick Harris should have locked YOUR predictions in the box.

Anonymous said...

Why was Maya Angelou and Gabrial Garcia Marquez included in the in Memoriam?

Breadbaker said...

You did fine. So did NPH. There was very little drama to these awards (the biggest "upset" may have been Wes Anderson losing out on best original screenplay, so we got to see Alejandro Inarritu three times instead of twice). Oprah was fine. Anna Kendrick sang in the opening number, as did Jack Black. My Facebook wall was lit up by the number of people impressed by Lady Gaga's singing. It was nice she and Julie Andrews were on stage together. John Travolta and Idina Menzel presented together, which was quite sweet. Later, on Jimmy Kimmel, Travolta explained that his cue card was done phonetically, not the way he'd seen it in rehearsal, which was why he screwed it up. In introducing Idina, NPH said that "Benedict Cumberbatch" would be how John Travolta would pronounce "Ben Affleck". Which got a big laugh.

Mike Barer said...

More political this year. Opinions vary from side to side.

Justin Russo said...

NPH was a major letdown.

More of a letdown, there was only 15 seconds worth of Bacall.

Corey said...

Note to Mike McCann: "Ken, You need to start picking stocks"; that's his brothers job....

Michael Hill said...

Late arrival by Julie Andrews nudged out Melanie Griffith for the competitive worst-facelift Oscar...

Annie C. said...

Yep, Melanie's face terrified me.

ScottyB said...

I don't think Ken -- or hell, even anyone -- could have predicted that 'Lego Movie' number. But it probably gave whoever was responsible for Up With People a huge hard-on, and anyone on acid a really awesome-scary 8 minutes or so.

Except I'm torn over Sean Penn's "green card" moment even better — only because I can't decide whether it was priceless as it was, or if it might've been better had Penn given a Jeff Spicoli "You dick!" instead. (And obviously, the legions of "outraged" didn't get the humor in the first place.)

Iñárritu himself said: “I didn’t find it offensive. "I thought it was very funny.”

Kevin said...

No mention of NPH in his tighty whities, but still you knocked it out of the ballpark.

jbryant said...

Not bad, Ken! An incorrect one you could have avoided though -- FOXCATCHER wasn't a Best Picture nominee.

Stu Shostak said...

What??? No Academy Awards telecast in Korea??? But...but...every year (this year included) someone ALWAYS says that the show is seen in HUNDREDS of countries, and watched by more than a BILLION people!!! They always say this! OMG! You've just burst my bubble! Say it ain't so!! Well, I can now no longer trust anything that anyone says during the Oscars show!!!

Kennel Levine said...

Ken's greatest prediction:
The intrusive play-off music began the minute any winner acknowledged his dearly departed mom/dad/grandfather/manager/pet.

He got Larry the dog!

ScottyB said...

>>What??? No Academy Awards telecast in Korea???<<

@Stu Shostak: Ken didn't say whether he was in north or south Korea at the time. He probably gets a free pass to travel freely between the two because of his work on MASH. So who knows?

Diane D. said...

Highlight of the evening: Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech addressing the inequality of women's pay, with Meryl Streep cheering from her seat.
Second highlight: Whiplash winning in 3 major categories.
Biggest disappointment: Michael Keaton not winning
best lead actor.
Funniest moment: NPH walking on stage in just his underwear.

jcs said...

The GUARDIAN was very critical of the show: "And it’s not the criticism that the audience minds; it’s the lack of humour. People will forgive the most cutting remark if it’s funny." From what little I have seen, I have to agree.

I vote for Sorkin, Lorre, Levine & Isaacs as head writers in 2016.

ScottyB said...

For me the highlight of the broadcast was the unsung person(s) who were responsible for the photo treatments of the people in the dead celebrities segment. Awesome pieces of graphic art, pretty much each and every one of them.

Maybe Patricia Arquette coulda used whoever that was to do something with her hair. I kept thinking either she got a huge wad of gum in it and had to hack it out with dull scissors, or she got drunk and got it stuck in a door like on 'Sixteen Candles'.

BigTed said...

Speaking of Sam Rubin... He had to apologize after referring to "Glen Campbell's widow" (given that Campbell is infirm but alive).

Joan Rivers' snub seemed like a major diss from people whose outfits she had probably made fun of in the past.

The scenes from "Sound of Music" made it look like the movie was just a light musical romance -- there wasn't a Nazi in sight. And Lady Gaga seems ready to give up superstardom if she can only appear in a third season of "Smash."

NPH wasn't very good, and it's fair to say that he was not well-served by the writing. Why were they counting on comedy from head writer Greg Berlanti, currently producer of the laugh-riots "The Flash," "Arrow" and "The Mysteries of Laura"?

ScottyB said...

Ken totally nailed it on this being a Tony show. The only thing missing was people doing jazz hands. Which I guess brings us to the ultimate question: Should the Oscars be a huge-ass stage production, or should it just be full of killer humor line after single line, like a Charlie Sheen roast?

One thing hasn't changed, tho: The material written for the presenters still sucks just as bad as it ever has.

ScottyB said...

Re Neil Patrick Harris showing up in his underwear: 1) Is the gay-dude jury still out on his junk? 2) People watching the first televised Oscars broadcast in 1954 woulda thought Bob Hope (that year's presenter) in his Fruit Of The Looms was funny, too.

Diane D. said...

You are so right, ScottyB, about the "In Memoriam" photographs being a highlight. They were breathtaking.

But how could you even notice Patricia Arquette's hair considering her incredible speech. Her delivery was so powerful.

Anonymous said...

Great job Ken.
When Done with all of it will
Post more .

Milton the Momzer said...

Re: Patricia Arquette: I am sure there still exists a wage gap between men and women, but no one has told me what CIVIL RIGHTS woman don't have....
Re: Glory: Nice singing by John Legend but I turned off the sound when Common started yappin'.
Re: Still Alice: Is it OK to say it's a film you'll never forget. Maybe.

Cap'n Bob said...

Patricia Arquette accepted her own Oscar because Sacheen Littlefeather was unavailable.

Cristina said...

You are right Ken after a year we forget who won the Oscars I already forgot the name of the best actor last night. Before the show started last night I told my friends that most of the time winners in the Oscars have accents meaning foreigners and actors portraying roles with disability wins. My observations somehow did happen last night. Show was almost over and perhaps the bored tv audience were half asleep when Sean Penn blurted out a remark SOB who gave his green card! Funny or offensive? It's something to talk about last night aside from after 50 years the new Maria of Sound of Music has tattoos lol. One thing I will remember next year Neil Patrick wore a brief.

tavm said...

Dan Ball said, "I don't know if Eddie Murphy was bitter, but I heard he was all-business like SNL40. Boo." 'Nuff said, Dan.

Diane D. said...

To Milton the M: Read Manohla Dargis' series of articles in The New York Times on Female Filmakers, and you might understand.

I do not, in general, think political statements are appropriate in acceptance speeches, but when it is as outstanding, brief, and respectful as Arquette's, it's hard not to celebrate it.

And as much as I hate to bring it up, I think women in Hollywood and everywhere are feeling particularly abused at this time, as they deal with the revelations of the behavior of a powerful man who felt he had the RIGHT to have sex with any young woman he wanted---just drug them to avoid any annoying resistance and convince himself it wasn't rape.

Milton the Momser said...

To Diana D. When I ask "what CIVIL RIGHTS do American women not have," and the best you can do is give a non-answer about articles about female filmmakers, I can only assume that means you can't identify civil rights that men have over women. And as to wage gap, I'd be happy to make in a year that Patricia Arquette will make in a week on CSI:Cyber.

Leroy V. said...

No one can do guilt like Hollywood.

After the ruckus about the color of skin of the nominees (didn't Dr. King say he longed for the day when this would not be an issue --guess the people who complained about this year's nominees didn't hear that part of the speech), the Oscar for Glory was almost a given. The only thing standing in its way was the Glen Campbell song. I'm sure Hollywood was torn about whether to soothe their conscious after the uproar concerning the number of Af-Am nominees or honoring a song from an Alzheimers' patient.

And the way that best actor and director were going to underdogs, I thought that the guilty feeling Hollywood voters might have given best picture to Selma to make themselves feel better.

Ron Rettig said...

I think the studio "suits" should be omitted from in memoriam segment.
NPH briefcase bit bombed and Robert Duvall's snub of invitation to participate in it was perfect.
NPH's snide comment about Dana Perry's dress when she was played off after mention of son's suicide was not endearing to this audience member.

Lou H. said...

Disappointed that the "in memoriam" collage didn't include "Amy Pascal's career prospects".

Diane D. said...

Milton the M

Having civil rights legally is very different from having civil rights in practice. Discrimination is a very dehumanizing violation of civil rights.

Women are paid less than men for the same job.
Women can be US Senators, but how many are there?
Women can be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies;
currently 5.2% are female.
And on and on and on (the movie industry is one of the worst)

Regarding Arquette, for purposes of this discussion, how much she makes is not the point,
it's how much less it is than a male in the same


Johnny Walker said...

Astonishingly accurate. Wows.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Sorkin, Lorre, Levine & Isaacs as head writers in 2016

JCS, nice group there, would be very interested to see what this team could come up with!

Without a doubt the biggest change I can see from this group, would be the podium could be done away with and the presenters just walk and talk the whole show.

Pat Reeder said...

To Diane D:

Actually, "average pay" comparisons of men and women are utterly meaningless. Multiple studies have found that women earn less than men on average because women tend to gravitate to more secure and less dangerous but lower-paying occupations. They also put in fewer hours than men and take more vacation time, sabbaticals, early retirement and other time off work, costing them both tenure and overtime pay. And women are less likely to negotiate for higher salaries during job interviews. This is why even the women on Obama's White House staff earn only 78% of what the men earn. On the other hand, a 2010 study of single, childless, urban workers age 22-30 (which negates most of the voluntary lower pay factors) found that those women earned an average of 8% more than men. But let's never let facts intrude on a inspiring Oscar speech.

Diane D. said...

To Pat Reeder

I should have made it clear I was not referring to "average pay" comparisons (although to be sure, I didn't say "average"). I agree that any such comparison is going to be meaningless, and the long list of reasons could be replaced by just one--child rearing. I was referring to men and women doing the exact same job in the exact same company. Those discrepancies are still rampant, but I truly hope the 2010 study you quote has some validity somewhere in this country.

So I assume you think there just aren't that many women interested in being Fortune 500 CEOs or US Senators or Movie Directors? And that Patricia Arquette's passion, although inspiring, was ill-informed? You seem like a nice guy; I can't believe it of you.

Bill Jones said...

Diana D.--you're right. There ought to be a federal law requiring that men and women earn equal pay for equal jobs.

Oh wait--there already is. It's called the Equal Pay Act. It's several decades old.

Federal law mandates equal pay for equal work. But as study after study has proven, discrepancies in pay between men and women are almost always due to discrepancies in choice of profession, educational background, work experience , and so forth. When factors are controlled to allow true comparisons, men and women earn the same amount.

Now, that is not to say that there aren't reasons to address the underlying discrepancies (like why banking, a high-income profession, is predominantly male, while social work, a low-income profession, is predominantly female). But it is a logical and deductive mistake to leap from those underlying discrepancies to the conclusion that men and women do not earn equal pay for equal work. And it's just a factual mistake to claim that there ought to be a federal law requiring that.

Bill Jones said...

"So I assume you think there just aren't that many women interested in being Fortune 500 CEOs or US Senators or Movie Directors?"

Actually, that's in fact what many studies show. There are significantly fewer women, as compared to men, who go into the professions that lead to being a Fortune 500 CEO, or who want the lifestyle that is required to become a Fortune 500 CEO.

"And that Patricia Arquette's passion, although inspiring, was ill-informed?"

Yes. Are you seriously surprised that a Hollywood actor might be ill-informed on a complex sociological topic and instead gravitate to superficialities?

Anonymous said...

Ken Said:

"Since I am in Korea I was unable to watch the Academy Awards"

Waitaminute.You just said you were in China. Are you still at home, Ken? Or did you decide to see the Orient in 10 days, while blogging?

You're rich, and retired. What's the rush?

"It's not that I can't experience these people's culture... I just don't want to."

-Lawrence Bourne IV

David Arnott said...

@ScottyB: I completely agree. The main person behind those graphics was a guy named Henry Hobson (who also worked with Lee Lodge and a production house called Elastic)

And also:

Diane D. said...

Bill Jones

You sound far too knowledgable to be unaware of the exemptions that allow many employers to legally ignore the equal pay laws.

I can easily believe that not as many women as men would want to be CEOs, but you surely cannot believe that without discrimination only 5.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs would be female.

I don't think Ken Levine would approve of a prolonged discussion of this topic, so please feel free to respond, but this will be my last word on the subject. Thank you for your thoughtful and almost snark-free replies.

Hamid said...

I'm disappointed Michael Keaton didn't win best actor but he's made a magnificent comeback and he's got a ton of movies lined up, so I'm happy. And I'm delighted Birdman won best picture, director, screenplay and cinematography. I've seen it three times and is one of those films that gets better with each viewing. If you were underwhelmed by it, give it another go.

I'm so glad the Academy awarded best picture to a film that's just a damn good picture and isn't some worthy, self important "issue" film.

Speaking of which, yet another year in which Oprah didn't get to read the ten minute speech she drafted about 20 years ago.

Barry Traylor said...

Rather well actually.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Nicely done Ken.
Since you got so many right, let's just slightly pick on what you got incorrect.

Tegan looked better than Sara.

There was just 1 Kanye joke.

If Jennifer Lopez's tits had popped out, then there would have been a Batman joke for Affleck, as a big BOING! would have popped across the screen.

Greg Ehrbar said...

While I admire the courage and conviction of such people who use their valuable "thank you time" when winning Oscars to make social and political speeches, so matter how brief, it is a bit of a lapse of good manners to do so.

What if someone threw you a birthday party, sent you a nice greeting card, bought you a gift, stopped by your office to pay you a compliment, loaned you money when you were a few dollars short, took care of your kids, gave you the keys to their summer cottage, etc.?

Would you take the moment of thanks to make a point about the fat content of the birthday cake, say "I already have that thing and I don't like it", ask the co-worker why they chose to wear that tie, called the money lender a capitalist, say "I just hope my children didn't eat that garbage you eat", ask if they bothered to clean the cottage first, etc.?

Public figures have more access to media than almost anyone else in history, with many other venues from which to make their opinions known. The compulsion to use a highly watched broadcast to speak their minds is very powerful, and it cannot be denied that there is a possibility that making their comments could institute a change.

But it can also do the reverse. They risk polarizing the very people who have just honored them to make their points, valid or not. It is altogether possible that when they choose to do that anyway, they can do their cause more harm than good.

So Ms. Arquette was brave to take that risk. That does not mean she should have.

MikeN said...

There's not going to be as much humor, since a bad joke can end someone's career now. How many people here cheered on as various people were pilloried or fired for something they said? Wonder how much money Al Sharpton is making from Sony and Amy Pascal in exchange for the cover he is providing?

Anonymous said...

With Dan Rather gone, there is a chance for normal stories to get through.

MikeN said...

For example, Keith Olbermann jokes about Penn State, responding to a tweet We Are! with 'Pitiful'
and gets suspended by ESPN. Sure it was a fundraiser for cancer research that raised $13 million, but suspending him for it just means people being even more cautious in the future, and less things get said.

Artie in Sin City said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Artie in Sin City said...

Simply "YAWN"...ABC heard those Nielsen numbers falling all night long...Down 15%...HUGE...They have to clear out those dumb categories (like almost all of 'em) and tighten up the show...Got it! Bring back Hope, Carson, Martin and/or Crystal...That'll do it! Say, do stereos still come with DOLBY? Suspect the theater does...

Mike Barer said...

A firestorm was started by Joan Rivers omission from the memorial presentation, the perception is that Hollywood has no sense of humor, in other words, a PR disaster for the academy.

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