I always look forward to the Oscars. It's my personal highest of Holy-days. I sit with my printed ballot and mark who I want to win, who should win and who will win. It's color coded and carefully considered well before the night of the telecast. I listen to all of the acceptance speeches (yes, even in the technical categories) and cry at the In Memoriam section. I love the pomp and circumstance of The Oscars as all of the actors get all glammed up and celebrate their craft and their industry.
However, something felt different this year. Something caused the whole night to fall flat. I think part of it was the fact that the movies this year, on a whole, were not great. So the first piece of it was that I wasn't particularly invested in any of the winners. I didn't feel so passionately about any of the movies. Hugo was my favorite, The Artist was interesting and it was cool to see an homage to Hollywood past. Clooney did a good job in The Descendants. The Help was good too, but other than that, eh. I couldn't bring myself to see Iron Lady, Moneyball or War Horse - they all just looks so painfully boring. So I didn't even really care all that much about who won or lost.
There were some high points. I love that Christopher Plummer finally got his due. His speech was thoughtful, sensitive and eloquent. Esperanza Spalding's "What a Wonderful World" was heartfelt and provided a beautiful soundtrack to the memorial moment of the night. I loved the surprise win by Brett McKenzie and his gratitude to Jim Henson was something all us Gen-X, Gen-Y and Millenials could appreciate. And, while I think I'm one of the few, I liked the movie montages they included. After all, shouldn't a celebration of "the movies" showcase and honor those which laid the groundwork for future generations of film? I only wish there was more.
I think what really irked me though was that all that pomp and circumstance was ultimately for a year's worth of work that wasn't really all that deserving. As Billy Crystal said in the beginning of the show, we're watching millionaires hand out little gold statues to one another. For the first time, for me at least, the show felt woefully out of touch. Billy Crystal and the producers did a good job trying to make it feel more relevant and give it a little lift without obviously pandering to the 18-25 demo (Can we all agree to erase the James Franco/Anne Hathaway debacle from the record). I thought the addition of Cirque Du Soliel was great and the little comedic snippets like with Kermit and Miss Piggy or the Wizard of Oz "focus group" were clever. But ultimately I felt like we were rewarding people for a lot of mediocrity. Sure, the awards have to happen so someone has to win, but it feels so lame watch the self-congratulatory nature of this group recognizing and honoring what is ultimately overall sub-par work.
Another point I'd also like to make now that I have the floor is that the documentaries, doc shorts, and animated shorts should be more available to the public. Often times these are the categories doing the most important and creative work and yet there is a limited to no feasible way to actually view the content.
And finally, will someone PLEASE feed Angelina Jolie?
I just hope next year's crop of films will be better so we can put this whole mess behind us.