Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Night

The story goes that when D.W. Griffith released The Struggle in 1931, a number of critics refused to review it out of respect for his former accomplishments.

And so it goes with Kirk Douglas at last night's Oscars. The Siren closed her eyes, and thought of Colonel Dax.

There really aren't many observations that the Siren has to make about the awards. They were enjoyable, James Franco is handsome, the actresses wore pretty things, the Siren went to an awesome potluck party and everyone said nice things about her quinoa salad. This ranks as a success in her eyes. The Siren does not look for much justice in this vale of tears, period, let alone at the Oscars. But here goes:

1. The King's Speech is not a bad movie. The Siren preferred The Social Network, like most of her acquaintance, but enough already. She repeats, The King's Speech is not a bad movie, and Colin Firth's speech was pretty charming, despite the old "my career just peaked" opening.

2. Ann Hathaway's best dress was the red one, the worst that sort of gray spidery thing that was number 2.

3. You know, the Siren isn't going to complain about getting a larger dose of Lena Horne than anticipated. But giving the woman a special award while she was still with us, even quarantined at that blasted Governor's Banquet they have now, would have been even nicer.

4. If you are going to include clips of old movies, they should, ideally, have some relation to what's happening on stage. Not just Tara's Theme, then…whatever that award was. This does. not. help.

And now the Siren returns to her regularly scheduled routine of getting more worked up over the 1942 Oscars, say, than she does over this year's. Carry on.


Lauren Hairston said...

This was the second year in a row my house has totally ignored the Oscars and the Golden Globes. I, too, am much more interested in who won the statuettes in 1942!

Congrats on your quinoa success! I love it when people love my food.

Phillip Oliver said...

The dullest ceremony in years! Anne Hathaway did a decent job but James Franco looked like he wanted to be somewhere else and was he ON something? There was no glamour and I think part of the dreariness comes from everything being predicted already.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Really BORED by it all. No suspense and Farnco and Hathaway BOMBED. Shows like this need a professional host, as was obvious when Billy Crystal dropped by and the crowd practically BEGGED him to stay.

If they were looking for a "younger demographic" that would have made for a good show there was really only one person to turn to

Neil Patrick Harris.

Gareth said...

I'm with David on the need for a host who can actually handle the ad lib, song and dance aspects, to keep things moving along less painlessly if nothing else; Crystal's brief appearance livened things up no end.

And the Gone With The Wind intro that morphed into something else entirely was just bizarre: my wife turned to me and asked whether she'd somehow missed some obvious connection.

Tony Dayoub said...

You're right, Siren, THE KING'S SPEECH isn't a bad movie, just one that didn't raise my heart rate too much. Predictable though it may be, I don't think all the hate for Hooper is deserved. A few years back some of these same haters were praising him for directing HBO's JOHN ADAMS.

Karen said...

I saw The King's Speech before I saw The Social Network and I have to say I enjoyed it enormously. I was a little sad, in fact, when I saw the Facebook film and realized it was better and more important. I do like that both look at the impact a new technology had on civilization.

Siren, do you mean Hathaway's best dress was the red carpet red dress or the mid-ceremony dress that she wore for exactly one presentation? I liked them both best, actually.

I felt bad for Hathaway. She was clearly trying to salvage the hosting through pure positivity and enthusiasm, but by the end it just felt desperate and a little embarrassing. Just "happy to breathe the same air" as Oprah? Really? Oh, honey. I said that once about an event where I got to wait on Joe DiMaggio. You hold that one out for genuine legends, not just really wealthy and successful folk.

I was WTF over GWTW, too. "Legendary film from 1939" had me guessing at first--I was rooting for The Women, needless to say, which would have been appropriate homage to the female co-host--because I honestly didn't think they'd go with the most obvious and cliched choice. And then they didn't DO anything with it. So pointless! But they did end the show with a song from the OTHER safe "legendary film from 1939" so I guess that was closure, or something.

I agree that NPH would be a wondrous and charming host, but I'm not sure that he's been in enough feature films to qualify. They should just give him a waiver.

They should really jettison the presenter speeches to the Best Acting nominees. Those are creepy.

Speaking of which, I will draw a veil over the Kirk Douglas appearance.

Trish said...

The show was a dud. It's not the fault of Hathaway and Franco. They're told they're there to attract a younger audience, then given the same things to do as previous hosts. The true monotony comes with the predictability of the awards, and of the speeches offered by the unsurprised winners. I was so hoping for some upsets in the top categories. The King's Speech is a nice little movie, not a great one. Sigh.

Seeing Kirk reminded me it's time to watch The Bad and the Beautiful again.

I thought Michelle Williams looked very old Hollywood - definitely a highlight of the night.

Peter Nellhaus said...

My third year of not watching and not missing the show. Putting it in perspective, we're talking about an organization that awarded Norman Taurog over Josef von Sternberg.

Enid said...

We had an Oscar ballot at work. I voted for "The Social Network" for most of the major awards even though a little voice inside me said, "It's the Academy, silly. Deep down you know it'll be 'The King's Speech' all over the place."

Maybe I'll do better next year. I should know better than to vote against a archetypical white elephant. Guess I voted the way I would have voted, had the Academy asked me.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I rest my case.

Vanwall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanwall said...

Mad Magazine's parody of a cynical newspaper columnist had it right, "It stinks, the whole thing stinks. You stink." Except for the last part. But then again, maybe that's the real armpit of the whole movie process - it really has nothing to do with me or you. Like the Oscars.

I didn't watch, I had nothing invested as far as likes - most of which were already shut out; or dislikes - not enough emotion brought forth to qualify for any of them.

Kevin Brownlow popped up I hear, which must've added to the greatness level of it by thousands of percent.

Love the Col. Dax header - a little of his scene with the General would've wiped off the entire Oscars, good thing they didn't show that part; or the tavern scene from Paths of Glory either, prolly would've wiped out the Best Song winner, no doubt.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

I thought that Anne Hathaway was charming but James Franco was out of his depth. In fact, have Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin and Anne host next year. I loved The King's Speech so I'm happy that it won, but I was surprised that Social Network didn't. As for Lena Horne, I agree with you, she should have been given an honorary Oscar while she was alive instead that miniscule tribute. It would have been nice to see Jamie Lee Curtis talk about her dad, or people who worked with Patricia Neal talk about her as well. And the GWTW clip wasn't even really a clip.

Arthur S. said...

I think anger towards KING'S SPEECH win is appropriate however belabored. Just when you thought that Oscars would have outgrown royalist fantasies, they publicly declare their recalcitrance.

THE STRUGGLE is actually a good film and however awkward it was, it was nice to see Kirk Douglas.

The Siren said...

Arthur, I haven't seen The Struggle and so can't comment, but it's a fact that it was roundly loathed at the time. Which means...not much, except I have always been impressed that critics at the time would do that. Can't imagine such a thing nowadays. Not really sure what all these royal pictures you're referring to are, though. Seems to me there actually haven't been that many royalty pictures that won. Actually, I count one Best Picture winner, The Last Emperor. There's a small clutch of others with peripheral royalty around.

Karen, I meant Hathaway's mid-ceremony dress, which was stunning on her.

David, I think Neil Patrick Harris would be awesome. And no, he isn't a big movie star, but if they can do David Letterman and Jon Stewart...

Laura said...

Am I the only one who thinks Tina Fey would make an outstanding host? Caustic, hilarious, adorable--she'd own it. Of course, I also kinda maybe think she should play Lois Lane a little, so really I just want to see Tina Fey in everything.

I never thought I'd see anything more cringe-inducing than Lauren Bacall flubbing her teleprompted lines a few years back, but Douglas...yeeeah. Though I have to say, Melissa Leo got class in the way she treated him once she got up there. Props for sure. Even (or maybe secretly because of) the way she dropped that expletive deleted at one point.

DavidEhrenstein said...

a fortiori

Trish said...

Oh yes - way too many "royalty" movies have been nominated for or won oscars. In recent history, Kenneth Branagh as Henry V, Nigel Hawthorne in the Madness of King George; Judy Dench as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I (twice!), Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II. Let's not forget Laughton, Olivier, and Davis, Peter O'Toole as Henry II (twice!), Richard Burton as Henry VIII. I'm leaving a lot off the list, but these are just the British monarchs...

Tina Fey? She's brilliant. Would I love to see her take down Harvey Weinstein... !

The Siren said...

Well, look. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with royalty as a subject in movies or anything else, we will grant that, yes? Otherwise there's an awful lot of stuff on that waste heap...And also grant that a movie about royalty is not always q.e.d. royalIST?

I mean, just for instance, I LIKE The Lion in Winter. That's a witty script, and Hepburn was authentically good, her supposedly ingrained mannerisms subordinated to the character.

And I'd also point out that those are acting cites (noms mostly, not that many wins)...royal roles tend to have a lot of the high drama that acting awards thrive on.

I don't know, I just don't see a ravening horde of British monarchs when I look back at what's won over the years.

Trish said...

Does Braveheart count? ;-D

Uncle Gustav said...

Ick on the James Franco thing. He squints, has far too many teeth and appears to be manufacturing excess spittle at an alarming rate. He grosses me out.

I avoided the show, and it felt rather refreshing to do a little chest thumping while exerting my hetero alpha male veneer. Only once did I pass by the telecast, when Kevin Spacey speak-sang "Top Hat" for no apparent reason, when I felt the urge to sing "Hello Frisco" in my best Paul Lynde voice.

By this time Friday, the entire event will undoubtedly be forgotten.

Yojimboen said...

The Vocational Guidance Counselor Sketch:

(With John Cleese as the Counselor
And Michael Palin as Mr Anchovy.)

Substitute 'Oscar Broadcast' for Chartered Accountancy

and 'James Franco' for Mr. Anchovy
and you have last night in a nutshell:

Counselor: Well, chartered accountancy is rather exciting isn't it?

Anchovy: Exciting? No it's not. It's dull. Dull. Dull. My God it's dull, it's so desperately dull and tedious and stuffy and boring and des-per-ate-ly DULL.

Counselor: Well, er, yes Mr Anchovy, but you see your report here says that you are an extremely dull person. You see, our experts describe you as an appallingly dull fellow, unimaginative, timid, lacking in initiative, spineless, easily dominated, no sense of humour, tedious company and irrepressibly drab and awful.

The Siren said...

Okay I am laughing SO HARD at Y.'s comment but to be completely honest all James Franco has to do for me is stand there and breathe. Although I admit, that was pretty much all he did last night...

VP81955 said...

I think anger towards KING'S SPEECH win is appropriate however belabored. Just when you thought that Oscars would have outgrown royalist fantasies, they publicly declare their recalcitrance.

I suppose with all the Ivy Leaguers in Hollywood, they have their own American royalist fantasies over "The Social Network" and the Harvard connection. At least the Cambridge mafia can be pleased over Natalie Portman winning.

gmoke said...

Franco wore a (red?) dress too, don't forget.

"King's Speech" is a decent movie that humanizes the king (and kicks his brother in the nether quarters as does the recent Masterpiece Theater serial Any Human Heart.) It is the story of the friendship between two middle-aged men as Geoffrey Rush put it today on Oprah (who will soon be treated as the late Prince of Wales, I have little doubt).

The only other best picture I saw was True Grit and that came close to the mythic. Hallie Steinfeld was extraordinary and the script took all that was best in that short book and brought it clear to the screen.

I spent the weekend with a documentary on Lew Wasserman, The Last Mogul, but that story will never be fully told.

Kevyn Knox said...

True, The King's Speech is not a bad movie - just a mediocre, middlebrow thing that more oft than not wins Oscars.

After four years of more (for lack of a better word) cutting edge winners, we have gone back to the middle-of-the-road thing. Though I was happy that Firth won (though he should have last year too).

As for Mr. Douglas, I quite enjoyed his bit. The man knew what he was doing and played up on it.

Yes indeed, the show was boring and quite predictable as usual these days - and they do not even have the Governor's Awards on the show any more.

And yes, the 1942 Oscars are much more interesting - as was Hollywood and Cinema as a whole back then.

And as for the Quinoa Salad - I had to look up what that was, and now I want some.

As for me, I am going to relax tonight with Douglas Sirk.


The Siren said...

Kevyn, I hope I am not overselling the quinoa salad. People are always very polite when you cook. It was, I suspect, rather like Anne Hathaway--pleasant but in no way memorable.

The Siren said...

I mean Anne Hathaway as Oscar host. I like her better than that in movies.

Yojimboen said...

Anne Hathaway? I visited her cottage once.

Her old man Bill wrote some nice scripts.

Vulnavia Morbius said...

The King's Speech has been saddled with a pretty bitter lot by winning Best Picture, because future cinephiles aren't going to be looking at it's genuinely fine qualities. Instead, they're going to be saying "I can't believe The King's Speech beat XXXX at the Oscars." It's Oliver! or Annie Hall all over again. And it totally doesn't deserve its fate.


I still haven't seen The Social Network. I really don't want to break my embargo on David Fincher movies, but I suspect I'm going to have to see it to have an informed opinion. Grrr.

DavidEhrenstein said...

It's a really teriffic movie, Dr. Morbius. By rights it SHOULD have won best picture. But it's far from "heartwarming" in that it deals with the way people actually treat one another (ie. like shit) and no the ahil-fellow-well-met bonhomie of The King's Speech The latter isn't at all a bad movie. It's just an unremarkable one.

RosieP said...

My personal choice for Best Picture would have been INCEPTION. But since it was never a front runner, I would have been satisfied with THE SOCIAL NETWORK, which I believe was better than THE KING'S SPEECH.

I loved Anne Hathaway's red dress. I admire that she tried to infuse energy into her duties as hostess. But, she received no support from James Franco, who should not have opened his big mouth about Ricky Gervais.

I'm an African-American, but I did NOT understand why Lena Horne was singled out as a special tribute. I have to be honest . . . I respected her singing talent, but she never struck me as a good actress. Except in "CABIN IN THE SKY".

It's a pity that Sandra Bullock was not the show's hostess. She was the only presenter with any real wit. Hell, she was funnier than Billy Crystal.