It’s intriguing, it’s fatiguing … It’s a bore!

“Oh, my God! Oh, wow! Really, really, really, really, really wow! … OK, alright … OK, yeah I am kind of speechless.”

Just when you thought the Academy Awards couldn’t get any duller along comes the 83rd annual installment.

Colin Firth: Humbled

Sunday’s Oscar telecast moved in fits and starts and, though touches of class did shine through, the show sorely lacked what Hollywood has always prided itself on ‒ suspense. Everyone predicted to win in the top categories did, including Firth, Portman, Bale, Leo and, for best picture, “The King’s Speech.” No sweeps. No upsets.

The only semi-surprises, at least from where I sat, was that “Inception” did so well (four wins, including cinematography) and the superb “True Grit” was shut out, presumably because 1) the Coens weren’t beholden enough when they collected their “No Country” hardware, and 2) Westerns really are out of fashion.

As re-jiggered to attract a larger, younger audience, a lot of things misfired and a few worked.

The misfires:

√ Front-loading the show with the technical awards and pushing the supporting actor categories deeper into the evening.

√ Hosts Franco and Hathaway introducing, respectively, their grandmother and mother in the audience. It made me pine for Letterman’s Uma / Oprah moment.

√ Presenter Kirk Douglas, who did his reputation no favors by playing dirty old man and reminding us, yawn, once again that he was nominated three times without winning. The 94-year-old actor may have slowed down but he’s hasn’t forgotten how to hog the limelight. Quick, someone, get the hook!

√ Acceptance speeches like that by the “speechless” Melissa Leo (see above) that were either filled with dead air or just sort of rambled into tomorrow. And what’s with costume winner Colleen Atwood? After 30 years in the business, she can’t say thank you without crib notes?

√ Co-host James Franco, in and out of drag. If we were nice, we’d say the heavy-lidded, pursed-lip actor was doing his parody of James Dean. Closer to the truth: Early in the show, it dawned on him that he had made a terrible mistake and, for all his acting chops, he couldn’t conceal his deer-in-the-headlights dread.

Among the highlights:

√ Colin Firth’s funny, self-deprecating acceptance speech. (Brits are invited to the party each year to demonstrate how one accepts an award with humor and humility.)

√ The In Memoriam segment set to Celine Dion’s rendition of Chaplin’s “Smile.” Was it my imagination or did the music reach a crescendo just as Patricia Neal flashed a heavenly smile?

√ The collapsing of best song performances into two strategically placed segments. Now, the Academy has to figure out how to nominate decent songs: All of this year’s nominees, save for A.R. Rahman’s “If I Rise” for “127 Hours,” sounded like bad Disney show tunes.

√ The best picture clips backed by Firth’s halting “In this grave hour …” speech. Whoever came up with this gutsy, inspired idea deserves a special Oscar.

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4 Responses to “It’s intriguing, it’s fatiguing … It’s a bore!”

  1. Eric Sherman Says:

    Quite insightful, Glenn. My wife and I longed for Johnny Carson or Steve Martin on stage.
    I loved seeing Coppola, Wallach and Brownlow – could’ve used more of ’em.
    Eric

    Like

  2. Barbara Says:

    I agree! It was for the most part, very disappointing. Great review.

    Like

  3. Javier Reyes Says:

    I very much agree. My only favorite moments were James Franco telling people to watch short films, and Charles Ferguson’s acceptance speech.

    Like

  4. Drew Says:

    Personally, I can’t remember when the last time the Oscars were actually memorable. The in memory of segment seems like the only part I can enjoy. There’s not much about them that feels very genuine, and for the most part it seems dull and self-congratulatory.

    Like

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