Forum Replies Created
February 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm #56506
Last night was taking victories where one could get them. For me, at least. As is this, today from EW.com:
“And yet, the Oscars were outshone in one respect: CBS’ mega-rated Grammys coverage earlier this month pulled a slightly bigger audience than the usually dominant Academy Awards, and totally stomped the Oscars in the adult demo. The music awards show, likely boosted by the death of Whitney Houston, had 39.9 million viewers, just barely edging out Sunday’s program. If last night’s viewership tally is sustained in Nielsen’s national ratings release tomorrow, it will mark the first year the Grammys drew a larger crowd than the Oscars since Nielsen started its current ratings system in 1992. Among adults 18-49, there was no contest: Grammys had a 14.1 rating to Oscars 11.7.”February 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm #56490
The Oscar fortunes of my trifecta of 2012 hopefuls (Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games, The Hobbit) IMO took a significant hit last night, because AMPAS will take a look at the ratings and think that we actually like boxoffice bombs like Hugo (it’s got a long way to go to recoup its budget, people) and limited release arthouse festival fare in the major races and keep the populist/critics choices far away. I disagree with Scott because I believe it was 100% Billy Crystal that spiked the ratings, no matter how much he may have spiked his intake of Botox. We dropped the ball, us viewers. Now we have no right to complain what will happen down the road.February 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm #56483
Paul – you committed to saying you were wrong if this happened, which I suspected it would:
Nikki Finke: Live-Snarking The Oscars
Despite mostly negative reviews and no popular blockbusters among the movies vying for the top prizes, last night’s 84th Annual Academy Awards drew a 25.5 household rating/38 share from 8:30-11:24 PM, up 4% from last year (24.5/37). This year’s show was also up from 2009 and 2008 while down from 2010 and 2007 (see historical data below). Among adults 18-49, the Oscars delivered a 14.3 rating in Nielsen’s Local People Meter markets, on par with last year’s 14.4 despite having a host host, Billy Crystal, whose age was the ages of last year’s co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway combined.
Yes, I was wrong and you were right. ABC should send a monetary gift to Crystal because as EW.com said, he pretty much rescued the ratings.February 27, 2012 at 10:11 am #56467
The bottom 10, least-seen best picture winners in American movie history (adjusted for inflation):
10. The Last Emperor ($89 million)
9. It Happened One Night($86 million)
8. No Country for Old Men($85 million)
7. Marty($70 million)
6. Crash($67 million)
5. An American in Paris($65 million)
4. Hamlet(1948) ($61 million)
3. All the King’s Men(1949) ($60 million)
2. The Artist($32 million so far)
1. The Hurt Locker($17 million)
A serious disconnect between moviegoers and the Academy, none more pronounced than in 2 of the last 3 years.
February 27, 2012 at 6:42 am #56457
(CNN) — Sunday night’s Oscar
telecast was enough to make you drop your knitting and stare in
amazement at the contortions being performed on stage at the
none-dare-call-it-Kodak Theater — and not necessarily by Cirque du
Soleil, whose performance was one of the evening’s weirder moments.
Was it really just a year and a day ago
that the Academy Awards made its big play for youth, via the
double-edged disaster of James Franco and Anne Hathaway? OK, that
didn’t work. At all. But last night’s full-frontal embrace of the
past — punctuated in no small way by the choice of a silent movie as
Best Picture — was a back flip, a half-twist, and a landing in deep
It wasn’t the Academy’s fault that the
show’s director-elect Brett Ratner self-destructed, or that Ratner’s
hand-picked host Eddie Murphy bailed, or that the plucky Billy
Crystal had to be called in to host a show he hadn’t done since 2004.
It isn’t Crystal’s fault that he’s 63 years old. But someone —
producer Brian Grazer, perhaps — should answer for why a show
celebrating an industry in so much trouble chose to cast itself as
something so profoundly passé.
At a time when audiences are becoming
increasingly disenchanted with the very “theatrical experience”
the Academy spends so much time championing, why would the show’s
writers and producers characterize the idea of going to the movies as
something quaint, nostalgic and on the way out? Time and again,
participants reflected on moviegoing as something they remembered
fondly from their childhoods. They might have been talking about the
It was a strange tone to take,
especially since anyone who pays any attention at all to the media —
or lives in Hollywood, or talks to other people — knew that “The
Artist” was poised to win Best Picture, Best Director and Best
Actor (which it did). When you have an 800-pound metaphor pending
delivery, why add insult to injury?
It didn’t help, of course, that the
show was being held in the erstwhile Kodak Theater, which had a name
change since the venerable company filed for bankruptcy. Crystal
never mentioned the word “Kodak,” probably believing that
it might make people in the film industry nervous that the
company synonymous with film would be going out of
But it wasn’t the issue of changing
technology that gave last night’s show a stale air. It was the issue
of unchanging taste. Crystal, game as usual, opened the show with the
same shtick he’s used all of the nine times he’s hosted, including
the comedy montage of mock scenes from nominated movies. It’s never
had any edge and isn’t intended to, but the general tone of the
comedy was bloodless, and even blinkered: Delivering one gag about
the advanced age of Best Supporting Actor nominees Max von Sydow and
Christopher Plummer, the host suggested that next year’s show would
be sponsored by Flomax (the prostate drug).
This might have been funny, if 1) the
disconnect between the Oscars and anyone under 30 wasn’t so
pronounced; 2) Plummer and von Sydow weren’t among the classiest guys
in the room; and 3) they weren’t that much older than a lot of other
people present. Plummer, showing that age is what you make of it,
delivered the evening’s most eloquent acceptance speech. But as
deserving as he was (for “Beginners”), he couldn’t help but
point up the industry’s affection for the past, especially its own.
No one can deny Best Actress Meryl
Streep is almost routinely spectacular, or that she gave a marvelous
performance last year, albeit in a mediocre movie (“Iron Lady”).
But there were several supposed sure things going into last night’s
awards. And the only one that didn’t come true was Viola Davis’
selection as Best Actress for “The Help.”
Granted, Streep’s last win was 13
nominations ago (1983, “Sophie’s Choice”). But given that
Octavia Spencer took home the Best Supporting Actress award for “The
Help,” and got a standing ovation from the Oscar crowd besides,
it makes you wonder. It could be that voters thought Davis’ screen
time was insufficient for the Best Actress prize, or that she wasn’t
the center of the story (Emma Stone was, arguably). But that’s
probably giving the Academy more credit than it deserves.
The fact is, Spencer gave a much
broader, comedic performance; Davis’ work spoke to the real pain of
racism. Similarly, the choice for Best Documentary — “Undefeated,”
the weakest among a pretty feeble list of nominees — was about a
white football coach and his black high school team, the kind of
“Blind Side” vehicle that Academy voters gravitate to. Why?
Because it makes them feel good without straining.
For a town synonymous with left-leaning
politics, Hollywood has never looked so starched and conservative.
The idea would probably make Rick Santorum recoil in horror, but
Hollywood’s embrace of the past is rooted in the same thing as
Republican primary voters’ embrace of reactionary candidates: A
profoundly uncertain future. I like “The Artist” as much as
anyone (OK, probably a little less), but for all its charms, it’s not
a forward-looking film. And last night’s Oscars was not a
forward-looking show. It was rooted in a kind of paralysis, the kind
that accompanies a deep-seated fearFebruary 27, 2012 at 5:52 am #56456
The Wrap.com’s review:
Brett Ratner got lucky.
It probably didn’t seem that way in
November, when he lost his gig producing the Oscars after a casually
homophobic comment. But his stupidity saved him from having to
perform the delicate dance the Oscars struggle more and more to
perform each year. To wit: Begging the people watching at
home to go to the movies more, even as they celebrate films that may
not be popular with those audiences. It’s a difficult task that comes
down to finding the slim overlap of good and popular.
Sunday’s show was awfully boring, in
part because it strived so desperate to be popular when it should
have just embraced good. It played it safe by rolling out the same
old tributes to old films, which only created the impression that
Hollywood’s best days are behind it. The least successful attempt to educate
and entertain at once came when actors appeared in taped interviews
doing what actors do worst: pontificating about the importance of
their craft. (No one in the real world needs to hear Robert DeNiro
use the word “misery” again when describing moviemaking.)
As bad as it was, it could have been
much, much worse.
Ratner would have been a move toward
appealing to the lowest common denominator. But there’s no appealing
to the lowest common denominator in a year when “The Artist”
happened to dominate. You can’t remind people how much they
love the movies by praising a movie most of them haven’t seen.
Ratner was replaced by the very skilled
Brian Grazer. If this was the best show Grazer could produce, you can
imagine how poorly Ratner would have performed the delicate dance.
Just look at the drop-off in quality from the second “X-Men”
film to the one Ratner directed. Balancing acts aren’t his thing. But they shouldn’t be anybody’s thing.
The funniest person at Sunday’s ceremony was also the only one who
most decidedly chose a side. Presenting in the animated categories,
former Oscar host Chris Rock ridiculed the notion that voicing
animated films is hard. He imitated himself being fed his lines and
shouting them — and then collecting a million dollars.
Rock may not have captured the mood in
the room, but he said what everyone in the home audience was
Billy Crystal, who gamely took on
hosting duties when Eddie Murphy bailed out with Ratner, could have
benefitted from a similarly strong point of view. His best joke came
at the expense of the Republican presdential candidates, as he
compared them to Christian Bale’s menagerie of daffy and menacing
But given his questionable decisions
this year, maybe it was best that he stuck mostly to the middle of
the road. A joke he probably thought was very safe — reviving his
Sammy Davis Jr. imitation — set of a twitterstorm because he did it
The night’s best performance was by far
the riskiest: Cirque du Soleil performed a riveting aerial number. It
didn’t even pretend to have a connection with this year’s films, but
there’s no quibbling with people gutsy enough to do mid-air
gymnastics. One skit managed to celebrate Hollywood
history while simultaneously celebrating artistic risk-taking.
Christopher Guest’s band of usual suspects imagined a 1939 test
audience critiquing “The Wizard of Oz.” The viewers agreed:
Less Dorothy. Fred Willard wanted more monkeys.
The point of view, bluntly: Sometimes
audiences are dumb.
And we are. But that doesn’t mean
moviemakers should cater to us. It means they should lead us into
danger. (Preferably while acting humble about it, and never
complaining about anything.)
As it stands, the industry prefers to
listen to and even act on our stupid insights about more monkeys.
Because it’s in a tenuous position. The same technology that has made it
more appealing to stay home has made it less appealing to go to the
movies. Screen creep has made televisions and phones increasingly
valid options for watching films – and added ubiquitous cell phones
to the list of moviegoing indignities. (Endless advertisements are
also on the list, along with the talkers who have ruined movies since
Handing out the award for Best Picture,
Tom Cruise had to keep a straight face as he praised “the shared
experience of being in a theater with hundreds of other people.”
Maybe the academy selected Cruise to
deliver that line because his “Mission Impossible: Ghost
Protocol,” was the rare movie that actually benefits from being
seen with an audience. Your neighbors’ gasps actually add to the
soundtrack of its vertigo-inducing sequences.
But “Mission Impossible”
isn’t the kind of movie the academy celebrates in the major
categories. Not most years, anyway.
Every Oscars, academy members have to
choose between praising crowd-pleasers in the hopes that doing so
might encourage more movie-going, or highlighting smaller, more
challenging films they actually consider good. Unfortunately for this year’s show,
this was one of those years the academy decided to go with good.
While pretending good was also popular.
This isn’t a criticism of “The
Artist.” It’s just that an awful lot of people won’t pay to
watch a French-made film that’s black and white and silent. Not for
the same price as “Ghost Protocol.”February 27, 2012 at 5:34 am #56455
The Hollywood Reporter isn’t any kinder:
Because it’s important to get this out of the way, both presenting and hosting the Oscars are hard work. Thankless, even. For proof, let me put together a montage from the 84th Annual Academy Awards.
Perhaps this is just another thing to blame Brett Ratner for, since his mouth cost him the gig and Eddie Murphy went with him, forcing the Academy to make the safe choice of calling on Billy Crystal to host for the ninth time.
And somewhere, against all odds, James Franco is buying drinks for everybody. The colossal hosting disaster from last year is now forgotten by the safe, unfunny, retro-disaster that was Crystal making jokes that he laughed at repeatedly and overseeing an Oscars telecast that was as poorly paced as any in recent memory.
While it’s true that the Oscar host gets too much blame when it goes wrong, there was nary a comedic bit from Crystal that didn’t seem like it came from the prior decade or was as obvious as a crying baby in church. If the Academy wanted safe, it got safe, but it also got what seemed like a lounge act that was entirely too chummy and self-satisfied.
But Crystal is just the rod with nowhere to run in a lightning storm. More blame should be placed on the direction of the show, which started deathly slow (after the predictable and no longer fresh or creative video spoof from Crystal) and then got shockingly more slow as it went along.
In years past, the formula that always undid any awards show was simple (and yet few ever fixed it): Start strong, have a bloated and boring middle that then made a mess and a rush of the ending, which is always the most anticipated part of the show. How many times through the years has an awards telecast ran long or too close to the end time and left people we actually tuned in for – best actors, directors and best film winners – to race through their acceptance speeches and thus let all the air out of the room?
Well, inexplicably, this year’s Oscars managed to make that formula look brilliant. It started slow, got slower, bloated the entire affair with montages, glazed the eyes of viewers (“What, was that really the best director award?”) and then ladled on even more montages until it culminated in the predictable – if warranted – crowning of The Artist. About the only thing to raise a pulse was Meryl Streep winning again (in what most people will consider an upset), and that’s only going to piss off viewers even more.
So, yeah, not the Oscars’ finest moment. And when it comes nowhere near the ratings of the Grammys, the cherry will drop on top.
For much of the night, there was an annoying feedback coming from the main stage microphone that people complained about with ferocity online. Did no one monitor the sound? There also was no palpable sense of excitement or entertainment. And here’s where it gets a little tricky for the Hollywood community. Yes, so many people in so many varied categories have done great work, and they need to be feted for that, but in the real world when people are watching the Oscars, they don’t really care as much about sound, editing, makeup, etc.
The trick is to include those awards but to keep up the excitement level as a broadcast for people who really only want to know about the acting categories, the director and best film. Sure, film fans have plenty of other categories they love – foreign film, documentary, etc. But the average viewer wants to be entertained while they wait for the big categories.
What they got instead was a ceaseless parade of montages that hammered home the same theme: Movies are magic. They make the world a better place. They make life worth living. Everybody gets swept away at the movies. Isn’t it magical?
First off, stop dropping the anvil on us. Secondly, at some point the level of self-congratulation about how your work makes the life of The Little People more magical begins to feel condescending, arrogant and annoying. So how about three of those montages instead of, what, 33?
The pacing was sloppy and slow until — hey, here we go — best actors. People could be forgiven for having nodded off by then or perhaps, lulled into a stupor, missing the whole thing because they walked to the fridge or went to the sink to splash cold water on their faces.
Worse for Crystal, the Ellen DeGeneres commercials were like some kind of counterattack. She was funny in them. Like The Artist, people became mesmerized and leaned into their sets, wishing Ellen would jump out and host. Chris Rock – yes, please host. Tina Fey – please write and host! It was one of those nights.
And not a good night.
Here were a few worries I had: That Sacha Baron Cohen would steal the thunder (a bad precedent – look for one of the Transformers next year or some superhero in a costume or Murphy as Norbit or some Disney balloon). I worried that the great Christopher Guest& Players bit would be the highlight (outside of some really sweet acceptance speeches, it probably was). I worried that people were switching over to The Walking Dead or Luck.
On the other hand, I was happy for people who helped save the show – Emma Stone, Christopher Plummer, even Angelina Jolie sticking her leg out with authority helped distract from the feeling that the clock was melting. There was even a macaroni-and-cheese commercial that provided a ray of light.
Just a guess here – but since this makes two fairly horrendous Oscars in a row, the Academy will have to really rethink the process next year. And not to guess about others’ feelings, but you can bet that other critics will revile this effort as well.
For all of this talk about how the movies are magic (montage, montage, montage), maybe someone in the business could have sprinkled some of that magic on this telecast. It certainly didn’t transport us to another world – unless that world was a show on another channel.February 27, 2012 at 5:24 am #56454
HitFix’s review of the show:
Of the nine films nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, only “The Descendants” was set entirely in present-day America. Parts of “Midnight in Paris” took place in 2011, but it spent more time on the Hemingway end of things. And the other nominees were period pieces ranging from the turn of the millennium back to the 1920s.
It was a year where the Oscars had little interest in what was happening in the world today, and an Oscar telecast that had very little interest in what’s happening in the movies today. It was a telecast that, over and over and over again, wanted to remind people of how much they used to love going to the movies — especially back in the days when the big winners were also box office hits that most of the viewing audience had seen. We got one montage after another whose only theme seemed to be “Movies: weren’t they just swell when you were growing up?”
The nostalgia ran right through to the choice of host Billy Crystal, doing the same act he’d done 8 times previously, trying desperately to recapture the good feelings he got 20 years ago when Jack Palance did those one-armed push-ups. At one point, he even trotted out his old Sammy Davis Jr. impression from “Saturday Night Live,” not recognizing that the reaction to blackface is a bit different a quarter century later.
But all that those grabs to past movie and Oscar glory couldn’t disguise a lifeless show featuring a bunch of pre-ordained winners and Crystal looking repeatedly surprised that his jokes were dying.
It’s understandable that Oscar producer Brian Grazer might have grabbed for the tried-and-true when Brett Ratner was forced out over some homophobic remarks and his handpicked host Eddie Murphy used this as an excuse to bail. There wasn’t a lot of time, and the Oscars were already coming off of an embarrassing attempt to go the other way and pander to the youth demographic with a bored James Franco and a flop-sweaty Anne Hathaway as co-hosts.
At that point, Crystal seemed like practically the only choice – especially since Academy members have responded badly to other hosts who were funnier but more pointed in their comedy. Chris Rock, for instance, did a great bit tonight about racial typecasting in animated films, but you could tell it wasn’t playing any better in the room than Rock did as host back in 2005, when his big sin was making fun of Jude Law. (“If you want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law, wait!”)
The Oscars don’t want edge. They don’t want satire. They want something inoffensively pleasant, but really, they just want to celebrate their own awesomeness, and if the people watching at home happen to be entertained, that often feels like a happy accident.
Here, we opened with Hollywood’s reigning voice of God himself, Morgan Freeman pontificating about how “All of us are mesmerized by the magic of the movies,” and towards the end we had last year’s winners Natalie Portman and Colin Firth wax endlessly rhapsodic about this year’s acting nominees. And in between we got montage after montage after montage that, again, seemed to have no theme beyond, “Movies: Yay!”
Some of the montages were fun – I could have listened to Gabourey Sidibe go on about her love of “My Left Foot” for at least another half-hour (and possibly followed that with a 15-minute Reese Witherspoon dissertation on “Overboard”) – but mainly they seemed there to distract viewers from a crop of little-seen nominees, and the inevitable dominance of “The Artist.”
(The 17 other awards shows airing in the run-up to the Oscars has pretty much sucked all of the suspense out of the main event over the last few years, with rare exceptions like “Avatar” vs. “Hurt Locker.” The only major award that was any surprise at all was Meryl Streep beating Viola Davis, which is A)only quasi-surprising, in that it’s Meryl Streep winning, and B)frustrating, as Davis’ win promised to be one of the more emotional moments of the night. Then again, the orchestra might have played her off-stage the way they did her “Help” co-star Octavia Spencer.)
Some of the presenters managed to briefly inject life into the telecast. Besides Rock, Sandra Bullock got laughs for speaking German while claiming to be addressing the people of China, Emma Stone and Ben Stiller did a successful bit in which she was too excited to be presenting her first award ever, and Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis were amusingly solemn while playing the cymbals as they presented the Best Original Song award. (And I’m admittedly biased as a “Community” fan, but my biggest laugh of the night came from Jim Rash, sharing the Best Adapted Screenplay award for “The Descendants,” instantly mocking Angelina Jolie’s weird leg-out pose.)
But many other bits died, and were greeted by incredulous laughter as they did so, like Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz trying to present an award while their backs were turned to the camera, or Gwyneth Paltrow acting annoyed as Robert Downey Jr. pretended to be filming a documentary about presenting.
But no one seemed more surprised, early and often, by the lack of enthusiasm for his material than Crystal. When he wasn’t busy making fun of the suddenly nameless theater in which the ceremony was taking place, or joking about how old his material was skewing – or both (“Next year, this is gonna be the Flomax Theater!”) – he was trying to recover from one bit or another that the crowd was unimpressed by. When there was little response to a piece of stagecraft, he shrugged and quipped, “This is why there’s a buffet.” When a joke died a little later, he cracked, “The band loved that.”
And certain segments that went over huge in the room seemed baffling from a TV audience perspective. Grazer was so excited to get Cirque du Soleil in to perform, and the people in the theater ate it up, but even if the piece was in theory about the experience of going to the movies, it had so little to do with what it’s actually like to go to the movies as to be besides the point. (None of the Cirque members started texting in mid-air, for instance.) For this, they didn’t let us see a performance of “Man or Muppet”? For this, Octavia Spencer got played off? For this, James Earl Jones didn’t get to give a speech at all on the live show?
(And the Cirque routine was yet another case of celebrating the great movies of yesteryear while trying to politely ignore the films of 2011.)
As I say every year, there are significant parts of the Oscar telecast about which nothing can be done. The winners are going to be largely predictable because of the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, etc. The winners are, for the most part, going to recite boring laundry lists of their co-stars, managers, agents, dog walkers, etc., in lieu of making an actual speech. (Though we got a few good ones this year, including Christopher Plummer and “A Separation” director Asghar Farhadi.) And there’s going to be a good chunk of awards that viewers simply aren’t going to care about, no matter how they try to dress up and explain the importance of sound effects editing and art direction.
But it would help if the host wasn’t recycling the same material he’s been doing since the early ’90s, and if the show didn’t at times seem to be holding its nose and trying to ignore the unpleasant odor it found emanating from this year’s nominated films.February 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm #56413
If I didn’t mention it before, the most remarkable note of the evening is that no one thanked or mentioned Harvey Weinstein once.
From Nikki Finke’s blog tonight: ”
Hollywood thinks Weinstein instructed the winners to kudo him out of fear that the film community will hate him more than it already does. (“It’s Harvey’s world, and we must live in it,” movie mogul Tom Rothman was overhead saying from his seat inside the Kodak. How tragically true.) ”February 26, 2012 at 9:43 pm #56407
How suckass is this; independent films have won 20 of the last 31 BP awards.February 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm #56393
And the great Woody Allen WINS!
as expected Woody didn’t show up, no surprise
I was rooting for Allen tonight (one time only). Thank god The Artist didn’t win Original Screenplay. That would’ve been salt in open wound territory; bad enough it won 5 Oscars.February 26, 2012 at 9:11 pm #56387
And now interviewing….someone called Pauley Perette at other parties
Abby from NCIS is there? She was the winner in the quarterly Q rating of TV personalities. Four of the top 7 were actors from NCIS (#2 Cote dePablo, #4 Mark Harmon, #5 David McCallum and #7 Michael Weatherly). No wonder it’s the #1 show on TV.February 26, 2012 at 8:59 pm #56369
Dujardin can’t even win in his own damn country, but wins everywhere else. How much of an upside-down year 2011 was? Brad Pitt – uncrowned Oscar winner.February 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm #56335
And we can finally close the book on 2011, the worst year for film in a long long time.
I can accept the French silent movie winning BP, but at least we were spared it winning Original Screenplay. The Academy closes ranks behind boxoffice bombs ($175m budget, barely $80m US gross), too, as long as they’re directed by Martin Scorsese. Transformers was robbed of visual effects. And Harvey Swinestein comes out smelling like a rose. Again. Fuck him and his minions to hell.