Monday, 23 February 2009

The Oscars go MTV

I'd thought I'd seen the ultimate surreal Oscar moment. It occurred in 1989 when Rob Lowe did his infamous opening musical number with Snow White. Watch it if you can bear it: See, I think it was meant to be ironic and a bit over-the-top, but instead...

Then there were last night's Oscars, also meant to be ironic and a little-over-the-top. Now, I like Hugh Jackman. I'm familiar with him as a musical actor (I've never seen him as Wolverine) and enjoyed his hostings of the Tony Awards on Broadway. I think the opening "financial cutbacks, so I made it in my garage" musical montage was quite funny and certainly well-performed (with some very able assistance from Anne Hathaway). Not quite up to Billy Crystal, but entertaining. But people, what the hell was that "tribute to musicals" thing in the middle? Okay, Beyoncé has the musical chops, but the kids from High School Musical and Mamma Mia? Dear gawd, no.

"Lady Marmalade???" I said to elder daughter in bewilderment. "Since when is that from a musical?"
"Moulin Rouge," she replied.
O-o-o-oh. Baz Luhrmann. There's yer problem. He put this together and as far as I can tell, you either love Baz Luhrmann, or you just don't. Guess where I end up...

Then there was the dog's breakfast that was the nominated songs medley. They were meddled so well that I couldn't tell where one song ended and the other began. No wonder Peter Gabriel steered clear of it.

Things I thought worked (kinda):
a) The presentation of the actors' awards by five previous winners, each of whom addressed a different nominee. It probably went on for too long, but it gave each nominee a part of the spotlight and the impression that they too were winners in a way that simply hasn't been accomplished before.

b)Steve Martin's and Tina Fey's presentation of the writing awards. Mostly very witty and articulate, as writers are, y'know.

Not so much:
a) Ben Stiller's rather unfunny comic turn in a fake beard, that ended up taking attention away from the nominated cinematographers. (I think that was the award in question; I was somewhat distracted by Stiller's antics.)

b) Queen Latifah's tribute to academy members who had died in the past year. Not her fault, but the camera was undecided whether to focus on her while she sang, or the accompanying video, which really should have been what we were watching. The camera seemed to try to solve the problem by swaying back and forth in front of the monitor showing the deceased academy members (why? to the music?), making it difficult to read names and titles. Surely not the point of a memorial, right?

c) James Franco's and Seth Rogan's weird MTV-Awards-type skit of two dudes watching movies in the basement, and laughing inappropriately at movies like The Reader. James Franco's response to footage of himself as Harvey Milk's lover was a bit of a giggle though.

d) Framing the introductions and the winner's speeches with a construction of scenes from all nominated films. Thus, we'd be listening to rather a moving tribute, and Ku Fu Panda would be leaping into slow motion just below...

e) Having the orchestra launch into something under the presenter's introductions. Meant to be an accompaniment and mood-setter; ended up sounding like an interruption.

All in all, "A" for effort, guys, but "C" for the end product. If they're trying to be that hip and with it, why don't they just invite good-looking fans in and have them stand around the stage, like the various MTV awards and imitators? (Gawd, I'm getting old...)

I've deliberately kept from reading others' impressions in the newspapers and the blogs. I'm off to see if anyone agreed with me. (You'll notice that I failed to say anything about the winners. That's because, like the dresses and tuxes, there were no surprises.)


Jane Henry said...

I didn't watch it (on too late here, and we don't subscribe to the right channel and now I don't have time to catch up with it...) but really enjoyed your review.

OMG. That Rob Lowe thing. I have never seen it before. Who ever imagined THAT would be anything other then cringemakingly like a very bad panto where all the actors are on speed?? I loved the look on Tom Hanks' face when Snow sang to him though...

I love Hugh Jackman too - you MUST see X Men, his Wolverine is heartrending, but didn't even know he did musical theatre, so wish I'd seen the Oscars now.

I haven't seen Moulin Rouge, but do love Romeo & Juliet and Strictly Ballroom, so not all Baz is bad, no?? Or do you hate both of those too.

Really glad our Kate got her Oscar. Even gladder that she didn't have to "gather" this time...

Have yet to see any Oscar nominations. So many films, so little time....

Thanks for filing in my gaps!

Persephone said...

Hugh Jackman is one of those terrifyingly talented people. He has appeared on Broadway in The Boy from Oz for which he won the Tony; he has hosted the Tony Awards 3 times; he has performed in Carnegie Hall in a concert version of Carousel; and he appeared in London in Oklahoma! with Maureen Lipman and was nominated for the Olivier Award. There's a DVD available of the latter (I saw it on television in Canada), and it's well worth buying or renting, if you like Rogers and Hammerstein. He also produced the American version of Blackpool, Viva Laughlin, which was a total flop, although I think it might have had a chance if he had cast himself as either Holden or Carlisle.

JoeinVegas said...

1989 - that was a little strange. Rob Lowe was pretty back then (well, still is).
We were out for the evening and skipped it all.