Thursday, March 3, 2016

Oscar Telecast Retrospective Part 3: The Big Shock, and Failing Gags

Let's set the stage: Mad Max had just gone six for seven in the crafts, and Andy Serkis arrives to announce the outcome of its 8th nomination, Best Visual Effects.

First of all, having Serkis presenting this category is kinda inspired (though not as inspired as giving him an actual Oscar nomination would be), but I take umbrage with his introductory clip reel featuring only two of his various performance-capture characters he's played, Gollum and Caesar. Where's King Kong? Captain Haddock? Jeez, even Supreme Ruler Snoke? Talk about a diversity problem!

But I barely had time to tweet my nagging quibble, because moments later the collective jaw of Oscar watchers hit the floor when he announced Ex Machina as the winner. I was so gobsmacked that I didn't even realize the orchestra was playing “Get Down Saturday Night” from Oscar Isaac's much gif'ed sexy dance interlude from the film. Too much fun!

This bit with the droids probably worked better in theory, the show writers probably having banked on Star Wars winning Best Visual Effects. And was that Girl Scout Cookie nonsense leftover material from Ellen's from 2014 stint? Whatever the case, I think I'd have preferred it drag on an extra minute than watch the Minions bumble their way through the Best Animated Short presentation.

I'm inherently fonder of Woody and Buzz, obviously, but not when they're given nothing funny to do or say. I am so done with animated characters presenting Oscars. But it's hard to stay sour when the best film of the year wins its one award, as Inside Out proceeded to do.

“Next year's host” Kevin Hart trotted out next to introduce The Weeknd's song from Fifty Shades, but not before delivering an earnest, positive slant on overcoming the Academy's diversity issues.
"I have a suit with shiny stuff on it, so I still made a statement."

“Earned It” was the best performed and best staged song of the three we got to see, with on-stage violinists, lusty burlesque choreography and an aerial contortionist. Probably helps that it was also the best song.

I swooned shortly thereafter, not from the song but from Kate's sexy librarian glasses, ever so slightly askew so as to reveal that beautifully curved eyebrow. Give me a moment...
Okay, back to business.

Rock's interview bit outside the theatre in Compton continued the unsettling reduction of Oscar's diversity woes to a strictly black issue. Not good.

My heart would sink further upon Sly's tragic loss to Mark Rylance. So much so that I never picked up on what a warm, lovely little speech Rylance gave.

Whatever. Louis C.K. Popped up to lift my spirits with his humourous intro to Best Documentary Short. He and Kevin Hart win best presenters of the night.

Best Documentary went to Amy, and the best part of Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees' acceptance speech was the shout-out to editor Chris King, who should have an Oscar for Exit Through the Gift Shop, and another nomination for this.

Ugh, THIS joke. Good thing they chose to axe two of the nominated songs from the telecast, or else they may not have been able to fit this in.

Following highlights from the Governors Awards, Cheryl Boone Isaacs emerged and spoke plainly, eloquently, and intelligently on the Academy's steps towards diversity, inclusion, and the responsibility to become global leaders of the movement. Wherever you stand on the contentious issue, you can't deny that Isaacs has handled the storm with a clear and level head.

Sniffles followed throughout the Memoriam segment. So many legendary cinematographers this year, and they still forgot Oscar winner Andrew Lesnie.

Not that Tremblay isn't super adorable and all, but this joke has been done before at the Oscars: Get kids to announce Best Short. 'Cause they're short. Ha. ha. Wasn't funny way back when and it still isn't. But at least I finally guessed a Short correctly, and for the lovely Stutterer.

Sofia Vergara announced "Son of Sa-oul" as Best Foreign Language Film.

Next up was VP Joe Biden to introduce Lady Gaga's “Til It Happens To You” and plug Can't object to a worthy cause, but I object to Gaga's performance and the awful direction of the number. Manic camera movement and emotive grimacing that could challenge Leo's in The Revenant.

Best thing to come out of that whole number was when this vid of Brie Larson hugging every sexual assault survivor who had joined Gaga on stage was unleashed upon the Internet, well after the commercial break.

We're heading into the home stretch, with a couple more surprises (good and bad), a couple more ovations, plus the single most satisfying moment of the year to come...

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