Worst Things About Oscars 09/106 Oscar's Weird Relationship To Youth. The Oscars have never been a youthquake. Institutions are primarily for adults and for kids who dream of growing up to become adults. Certain Young Hollywood stars fit right into the glamour -- the history even -- of the industry's big night. You can't have the movies without both the old guard and fresh faces, after all. Cue Lion King music... "It's the circle of life!" But you need to have the type of young stars that don't require mental gymnastics on the part of the audience when they see them inbetween closeups of true legends and A-List names. There's something about some young stars -- Amanda Seyfried or Dakota Fanning for example -- that exude "one day I may well be Old Hollywood". This is the type of young star that Oscar should embrace if it wants to reexert and maintain its own institutional force. Miley Cyrus has precious little to do with the cinema and it's hard to imagine that she actually cares about the history of Hollywood and her place in their pantheon. What can she possibly bring to the table that they need? Taylor Lautner did fine with the presenting -- he's a young professional -- but they were giving him closeup reactions like he was an actual movie star and he looked confused or nervous when he wasn't on stage, like someone who had stumbled in from a nearby prom.
I don't want to come off like an old grouch here. It's a nuanced point. The Oscars should have a smattering of young stars, but since it's an Establishment event... it kind of needs the young stars who are, well, Established. And not (potentially) one-role wonders that they've been told are the cool kids. I'm not saying "don't invite Taylor Lautner". I have nothing against Taylor Lautner. I'm saying "Invite Taylor Lautner when he's proven himself." Kristen Stewart can stay. I'm obviously not a fan but I won't pretend that she hasn't earned it. She's been directed by Sean Penn and David Fincher. She's carried whole movies. Some people think she's really talented. She can hold her own while locked in tiny claustrophic spaces with Jodie Foster. Etcetera.
5 Pete Docter's speech. It started off well "Never did I believe making a flipbook in my third grade math class would lead to this" but one thing sours his wins for me. Why does he never acknowledge his fellow nominees in any of his speeches? When you sweep (as UP has) it starts to seem ungenerous. In such a rich year for animated films (Coraline and Fantastic Mr Fox would have made completely valid winners) it seems self-absorbed at best and extremely bad form at worst to act as if other great movies don't exist.
4 Oscar's Shame. At first I was excited that Oscar was explaining the difference between sound editing and sound mixing to the audience at home (and the audience in the Kodak... who *ahem* need the same education). But The Dark Knight? Why not illustrate with, um, this year's nominees?!!! Stay focused, Oscar! You could see the phantom image of the Academy's collective tail, still stuck between its legs. Exactly how many years are they going to apologize for passing that one up? The Academy makes a lot of bad choices, sure, but don't we like the Academy better when they aren't so obviously sheepish. Confidence --even when its unearned -- is often sexy. Groveling and pandering never are.
The John Hughes Club: Matthew Broderick, Macauley Culkin, Ally Sheedy,
Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Jon Cryer and Anthony Michael Hall
Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Jon Cryer and Anthony Michael Hall
3 The John Hughes tribute. He definitely made an impression on my generation. I'd never deny that. I grew up reciting The Breakfast Club and I love it to this day. But the Academy doesn't even do lone tributes for Oscar winners after they've died and John Hughes was never even nominated. It was an uncharacteristic moment, immediately casting strange shadows on cinematic giants that they've never given this treatment too. Yet another instance of the Academy protesting too much... "see, we DO like Popular Films! We DO!"
They're just so scared to be themselves these days.
2 Interpretative Dance. They gave up Best Original Song or the honorary Oscars....for this? Clue to the producers: This is the type of thing you can AND HAVE done before during the Best Original Song performances. Why omit one to have the other? Especially when interpretative dance numbers have even less to do with the movies than the aborted songs. And especially when you don't even know which movies you've decided to interpret. Why were you doing a tribute to WALL•E during the UP score? That's what the robot dance was for, right? Because there aren't any robots in UP. Was this a biting satirical jab at Pixar? "Your movies are interchangeable!"
1. the worst... Screw Old People! Roger Corman, Lauren Bacall and Gordon Willis. We see you... even if Oscar won't. Legends deserve better than standing and waving to the camera. F**k you producers!
Weirdest Things About Oscars 09/10
6 The Notably Absent. Old Hollywood and New Hollywood were amply represented but wasn't it weird that Legendary Hollywood and Current Hollywood weren't? Perhaps I should explain. Old Hollywood greats (roughly speaking the senior citizens) like Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman were very present. So were newbies like Amanda Seyfried, Zac Efron and Carey Mulligan. We already know that the producers feared the wrath of teenagers should Lauren Bacall open her opinionated mouth. She had to go! But what about Current Hollywood? Was it just me or was there a distinct lack of the big stars in their mid 20s to early 40s? You know... the age range of stars that get the bulk of the leading roles? Maybe I was imagining it (possible) but the whole night felt a little like the demographic of the Best Actress category (minus Sandra Bullock).
5 Fact-Checking ... Anyone? Anyone? You'd think a show with a gargantuan production budget and phalanx of writers wouldn't have this problem but why did Samuel L Jackson get the details wrong about Beauty & The Beast (1991)? No, Samuel, Beauty & The Beast was not nominated for both Animated Feature and Best Picture. The animated feature category did not exist back then. And no Taylor Lautner, The Exorcist was not the last horror film to win favor with the Oscars. That scripted gaffe (not Taylor's fault obviously) was even stranger, followed as it was by a montage of "horror movies" (loosely defined) that included many Oscar favorites that were released AFTER The Exorcist... movies like Carrie, Silence of the Lambs, Jaws, and The Sixth Sense.
4 Amanda Seyfried + Miley Cyrus. Who thought to pair them? I'm convinced they're from different universes and I'm not talking about the light years between Pennsylvania and Tennessee. I loved Anthony Lane's bit in the New Yorker about their odd couple demeanor
Cyrus, who wore a perfectly respectable bustier but had inadvertently forgotten to put anything over it,came on to present an award in the company of Amanda Seyfried, and, in so doing, fluffed her lines. “We’re both kinda nervous, it’s our first time.” So saying, she tried to corral Seyfried into the fluff, inviting her to share the pain, but Seyfried, wisely, was having none of it, and shied backward, as if to say, “Enough with the both, sister.”3 Fisher Stevens is an Oscar winner!
For those of you who are like "who?" It's okay. Perfectly understandable. But it was a weird moment for me. You see during the peak of Michelle Pfeiffer's career from roughly Fabulous Baker Boys through Batman Returns he was her boyfriend. Fisher withstood frequent hateful media comments, presumably for dating someone deemed so far out of his league. And he was further vilified when they broke up, presumably on account of infidelity.
But that's all ancient tabloid history. Now he is an Oscar winner and Michelle Pfeiffer is still... not.
Excuse me for a moment.
Stevens, who won for the dolphin-killing exposé The Cove, is obviously well connected and I didn't know this either. On the way to the stage for his thank you Woody Harrelson grabbed him and he exchanged looks with Meryl Streep. Who knew.
2 The Presenter Rut. What is with the Academy's utter inability to shake things up presenter-wise. They don't actually employ the same producers every year so why is it that we get the same presenters? What is it that makes Ben Stiller so attractive to them versus dozens of other famous comics? What is it that makes Cameron Diaz a "must have!"? Why is Queen Latifah the one black actress they regularly care about? Why do Tom Hanks and Barbra Streisand get so many chances to present biggie prizes? I'm not trying to be dense. I JUST DON'T GET IT. That town is swimming with legends. Los Angeles is where celebrities live. Tom Hanks and Barbra Streisand are not the only instantly recognizable cross generational celebrities on the planet. We've offered the producers numerous suggestions of very very famous people they've never used for Best Picture and they never take our advice. I mean Christ Almighty they've never even let actresses as famous as Meryl Streep or Jane Fonda do it. Or why not someone like Maggie Smith who is loved by the older generation as well as the young kids (see Harry Potter).
1...the weirdest. Sean Penn's AdLib.
It went like so...
I...um. I never became an official member of the Academy but the Academy and I do have in common that we manage to -- neglect to acknowledge the same actress in our own ways two years running. So I -- I'm going to start fresh with the Academy and acknowledge these wonderful actresses.Maybe someone else has already explained this online but what the hell is he talking about? I have no idea. None. And I watch the Oscars religiously every year, and usually more than once!
Explain it to me in the comments, please!
Update: the best moments too. Thanks for sticking it out!