Oscars: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

The Good
Welcome back Billy Crystal. Really, I was so happy with what he brought to the show tonight. OK, maybe he wasn’t as “edgy” as he used to be, and maybe a few of his jokes weren’t home runs. But if it is edge you are looking for, the MTV Movie Awards are on later this year. Crystal was great. He’s comfort food. The jokes about millionaires giving out gold statues and other ribbing about these one-percenters was timely and relevant.

It was a welcome relief that there wasn’t a sweep by a single film. Overall, most of the winners were generally deserving, and Academy voters spread the wealth to a certain extent.

Most of all, I was so over the moon about the huge surprise win by Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for their groundbreaking editing of David Fincher‘s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Perhaps the only people more surprised were Wall and Baxter themselves! The other truly great “surprise” (well, it was a surprise to me) was Meryl Streep‘s monumentous win for “The Iron Lady.”

Best acceptance speech of the night was, hands down, Octavia Spencer. An emotional, real, genuine and heartfelt thank you for such a life-changning moment. It is not often we get to see the raw emotion that was on display. And Spencer received one of quite a few standing ovations. What a great moment. The speech by Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”) was a close second for me.

Congratulations above all else to Don Mischer and Brian Grazer. Not only did you “save” the Oscars, but you presented one of the most enjoyable, well-paced Oscars in memory. They cut all of the fat that we are usually fed at awards shows, gave us a modern yet nostalgic tribute to “the movies” and still managed to entertain with such a funny roster of mostly great presenters. I really loved the graphics, music and the set – just a beautifully designed show. More please!

The Bad
I generally don’t have many complaints with the winners. But if I am going to split hairs, I think it is a little suspect to pass “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” over for “Hugo” in the Best Visual Effects category. I’m no expert, but I thought that was disappointing. Ditto Woody Allen‘s script for “Midnight in Paris;” I was hoping for a surprise winner in the Best Original Screenplay category.

Most of the presenters did a good job. Some were awe-inspiring doing not much at all (e.g., Angelina Jolie, say no more), others were simply hilarious (Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell as well as the ladies from “Bridesmaids” and Emma Stone). But Robert Downey Jr.‘s bit just fell flat to me.

I am so grateful that the In Memoriam segment wasn’t the usual grotesque morbid clapping popularity contest. But where was Eiko Ishioka (Oscar winner for costume design on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”)?

The Ugly
The filmed segment making fun of test screen audiences, taking us back to a fake “Wizard of Oz” screening, was unbelievably lame. Just didn’t work at all, and given the comedic talent involved, I am preplexed why it turned out the way it did.

This is a small complaint for a uncharacteristically well done show. It was old school, safe, stylish, fun and entertaining. And as far as I’m concerned, that is good enough.

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