Monday, February 27, 2012

Dale plays devil's advocate and defends the Oscars, and not even that half-heartedly

Well apparently my guarantees mean nothing.

Just as my 1000 word guarantee has gone out the window several times, so apparently goes my “Billy Crystal will make at least three jokes about how long the show is going” guarantee. Though, as predicted, today's coverage is chock full of complaints about the length of last night's broadcast. Hey assholes. It was three hours long. It is ALWAYS three hours long. Get over it.

As for the rest of it, here's my assessment:

Billy Crystal was a competent host and, as expected, his material was pretty lame and whatever the opposite of bleeding edge is. He opened the show the same way he used to in his glory days: by inserting himself into a montage of clips, doing a few of Bruce Vilanche's jokes, and then doing his “Oscar Song” (“Its a wonderful night for Oscar. Oscar Oscar. Who will win?” - yeah that one).

The montage, usually one of the highlights, was pretty lame, though you have to hand it to George Clooney; the guy's a sport. The low point was the insertion of that singing dolphin in shoes, Justin Bieber, in a lame bit about appealing to a younger demographic that was not helped by Crystal hauling out his Sammy Davis Jr. impression for one last laugh, or in this case, complete comedic black hole.

Crystal's monologue was pretty much as expected (apparently Vilanche was not involved this year – not sure why), though a few things struck me. First, is it just me, or has Crystal actually turned into that Catskills comedian he used to play on SNL and made the movie Mr. Saturday Night about? Also, his presentation seemed just a bit desperate, which may be for one of two reasons that I can think of: Jack Nicholson was not there for him to throw to every time one of his bits didn't land, and also his face kind of looked like an old catcher's mitt perched on top of a tuxedo. Was there some kind of sitcommy botched botox incident before the show? Like that episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia this season?

Here's the thing though.

I love edgy comedy, and edgy comedians. I liked Billy Crystal a long time ago, but he really has become a relic of the past. But what even I forget sometimes is that the Oscars are not supposed to be a comedy show. It's an awards ceremony. The format? People get up and make speeches, then give trophies to other people who then come up and make speeches. The fact that they spice it up with comedy and movie clips is very much appreciated, but those things are extraneous portions of what, by nature, is a dull event.

Sure, it's way more exciting for me if someone with a bit of edge is going to host. I'm one of the few who loved David Letterman's hosting gig, and Chris Rock was great. But damn, as long as it's not Whoopi Goldberg, I don't really care (though last year's Franco/Hathaway debacle was awkward on so many levels, maybe Billy is a way to reset the whole process and attain some kind of equilibrium).

One last thought about the host: the pundits always talk about how the members of the Academy are so old, which is why certain types of films almost always receive nominations, and that is a valid complaint. A large portion of the membership does not put any work or thought into who they nominate. They do not do what I, were I an Academy member, would do. They do not methodically compile a list of the films they saw that year, and then scan critics' lists for highly rated movies that may have flown under their radar, then make an attempt to see as many of those as possible before deciding which films to put on their lists.

Most members pick their favourites from the past year and make all their choices out of those few films. And it is well known that a ridiculously large number of them merely wait to see what happens at the Golden Globes and other awards shows that happen before them.

However, aside from the various injustices of which these people are annually guilty, when it comes to the ceremony and the host, it's their Academy, not mine. And if they want the ceremony to have a certain amount of reverence, or blandness, then I guess that's their right. I realized last night after my tenth eye-roll at one of Billy's lame jokes (followed by that little smile that tells everyone just how pleased he is with himself) that I wasn't watching the latest Louis C.K. Stand-up special, I was watching the latest broadcast of an esteemed event that's been going on for almost a hundred years. And while it's fun to watch a host who'll take the piss out of some of them, it's their right to say “No. Ricky Gervais scares the shit out of us”.

So what we got last night was a totally predictable evening, made even more predictable by the fairly lacklustre crop of nominees and the fact that pretty much every award given out was pretty much a lock. You know it's a predictable Oscar night when the only upset is Meryl Streep sneaking in to take the Best Actress award from Viola Davis. Then again, who would have imagined a world where anyone could consider Meryl Streep an underdog?

I have a lot more to say but am going to cut this short. I may bring some of them up later. But before I sign off I want to share one quick observation. I was live-tweeting the ceremony last night (follow me @nervoushospital. Please, anyone) and late in the show The Artist won yet another award (it might have even been Best Picture). The producer started speaking, and he looked eerily like Peter Lorre back in his M days. I tweeted, “Holy shit! Peter Lorre has risen from the grave!” A minute late, Patton Oswalt tweets, “I wonder if the director of THE ARTIST realizes he has a chalk “M” on the back of his tux.”

See? This shows why Patton is one of the most successful and talented comedians out there while I am a schlub with twelve followers.

Wait! Thirteen! The gap begins to close! Maybe with hard work and much, much more talent, I'll get there one day!

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