Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Oscars

It took me an hour, not counting the half-hour and more of the red carpet, to decide that I didn’t want to watch the rest of the four-hour long Oscars jamboree. Neil Patrick Harris, in spite of his good and honest intentions, and spotlessly clean undies, was flat and most of his jokes were lame, some to the point of embarrassing the viewer. He seemed awkward and looked as if he’d rather be somewhere else than inside the Dolby Theatre that night. I was assured that Harris usually acted like that on screen. In any case I was watching a rerun with four-minute long commercials every fifteen minutes, the Academy Awards were already history, and it was past my bedtime.

I watch the Oscars and the Golden Globe mainly to listen to the acceptance speeches which, in recent years, have been a disappointment. The speeches are seldom witty and clever. They’re mostly boring and drawn-out.

I remember the time when Michael Caine won a Golden Globe for Little Voice in 1999, and began his speech with this classic line—“Oh, what a shock. My career must be slipping. This is the first time I've been available to pick up an award.” He had the audience and viewers eating out of his Golden Globe. But you expected that sort of wit from Caine.

Years later, in 2007, his compatriot Hugh Laurie won a Golden Globe for House M.D. and proceeded to regale us with, “I am speechless. I'm literally without a speech. It seems odd to me that in the weeks leading up to this event, when people are falling over themselves to send you free shoes and free cufflinks and free colonic irrigations for two, nobody offers you a free acceptance speech. It just seems to me to be a gap in the market. I would love to be able to pull out a speech by Dolce & Gabbana.” You expected that kind of wit from Laurie, too.

Are the Brits naturally good at it?


In contrast, yesterday, Polish filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski, who won the award for best foreign language film, rambled on for so long that he was “booed” out by the orchestra, while best supporting actress Patricia Arquette did what I dislike most, a political statement on gender equality much to the delight of Meryl Streep who was on her feet and clapping.

It’s funny how Arquette looked like Streep’s twin.

A few points of view: why do award winners thank their spouses, their children, and their parents in predictable fashion? Why do the cast and crew of foreign film, documentary, and short film categories sit in the balconies like pariahs? What if the prompter mixes up the lines of the various presenters? What happens if the master of ceremonies has a panic attack? Are Clooney, Streep, and Travolta warned in advance they’d be the butt of jokes? Why is the Golden Globe better than the Academy Awards? Why can't the dozen-plus Bollywood film awards be as snazzy as their Hollywood counterparts? Why don't I read a good book, instead?

20 comments:

  1. Didn't watch any of it TBH. As a family we loved Arquette in MEDIUM, so I'm quite glad she won something, even though I'm unfamiliar with the film than garnered her the accolade (and most of the films up for the gongs).

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    1. Col, I'm not familiar with Patricia Arquette and I don't think I have seen her in any film. It's possible I might have seen her in one without knowing it was her. It happens all the time with me.

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  2. NPH is good on the TONYS. Clearly he needed a new writer for this though. A real snoozer although I liked most of their picks.

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    1. Patti, I heard that Harris did well as an MC at Tony Awards and one other which I don't recall. He was given a bad script this time, I agree.

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  3. We watched it, Barbara all of it, red carpet included, I the opener and then the last 40 minutes. I was glad the best actor went to Redmayne, thought BIRDMAN and BUDAPEST HOTEL got more than they deserved, surprised BOYHOOD got so little (1) and think they got the wrong original score (should have been THEORY OF EVERYTHING). You're right, reading a good book would have been a better use of time, then just checking the winners the next day.

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    1. Richard, from all the nominated films we're keen to watch THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, both for the film and for Ralph Fiennes' character.

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  4. I didn't watch any of it, so enjoyed your summing up, which gave me lots of info while making me glad I missed it....

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    1. Moira, thank you. Nowadays I watch awards ceremonies out of curiosity and to see what the more famous winners have to say. Not much there, I'm afraid.

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  5. We have watched all of it (not red carpet, just the show) for 20+ years now. Would have been longer but we did without TV when my son was younger. A family ritual, we even fill out a sample ballot even though we usually have seen maybe one of the movies. We often disagree with the choices but then occasionally there will be a good one. My husband appreciates the technical and design and photography side of the movies, so many of the awards are of interest.

    The only host I have ever really liked was Billy Crystal. But I do dislike all of the jokes about the stars.

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    1. Tracy, I'm fascinated by the technical brilliance of the sets inside Dolby Theatre and how the organisers of the show manage the changes, be it props, presentations or performances. There must be weeks of rehearsals ahead of the actual ceremony.

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  6. Sean Penn's comment was pretty good as we caught the last few minutes. If it had been up to me, I would have missed it all.

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    1. Oscar, I missed Sean Penn's comment as I was fast asleep by then. I have heard him speak in the past; quite articulate, I think.

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  7. My teenage daughters watched it. I was in another room and only paid attention when The Grand Budapest Hotel was up for an award.

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    1. Mel, we plan to watch THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL on cable or DVD whichever happens first.

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  8. Prashant, loved your review of the ceremony. It's ages since I watched the Oscars.

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    1. Neer, thank you. I don't think you missed much all these years. I have been watching these awards ceremonies intermittently.

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  9. Must admit Prashant, I do feel your pain - it's been about 15 years since I gave up watching this - just too much of an endurance test for me!

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    1. Sergio, henceforth I'll follow your example though I've been watching the awards every second year or so. They take up a lot of time which doesn't make sense if you're watching a replay.

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  10. I stopped watching Oscars in 1992. And I don’t recommend watching that train wreck of a year to find out why. Condensed: various tiring politics (both right and left) that gets caught up in the evenings events, musical numbers I rarely enjoy, and watching a rich click patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Annoying is too kind a word.

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    1. David, in 1992, we in India couldn't even dream of watching the Oscars and Golden Globe live. Cable television had just made its grand entry and there were very few English channels around. Rupert Murdoch's STAR was among the first to beam into Indian homes. Even today, more than two decades later, we have fewer than two dozen English channels for movies and serials.

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