Some Afterthoughts on the 2012 Academy Awards

And just like that, another year’s worth of Oscars are over and done with. It almost feels like an eerie kind of Christmas morning, with weeks of hype and anticipation all building and building and building and then blammo- everything’s over, to be largely forgotten in a day or two.

Meh. It’s how these things work. Now let’s do some serious pontificatin’.

Clearly, after last year’s trainwreck of an attempt to hip things up for the movie-loving youth, the powers that be decided that this year’s Oscars should cater to only the blandest, oldest demographics.

Billy Crystal started out the night with your typical intro where the host inserts him or herself into this year’s biggest movies, complete with a stale Justin Bieber cameo no one ever asked for. Then, to liven things up a little, Crystal sang a medley of some very old standards with the requisite movie puns inserted within.

But, to his credit, once Crystal loosened up a little, about halfway through the show, he got significantly more fun to watch. A couple good cracks about the economy, and an impression of a candy-apple red Nick Nolte actually got some belly laughs out of me. Crystal ended up playing it safe, for sure, but this was miles ahead of an either very stoned or very bored James Franco.

The other bits were similarly hit-or-miss. Robert Downey Jr. fell completely flat for me (but, in his defense, that was not the greatest material the world has ever seen) but there were a handful of hysterical moments, like Emma Stone’s giggly power play or Bradley Cooper’s moustache. And the awards themselves were also fairly standard. Granted, I only got a 12/25 score on my scorecard (not great), but all of the major awards were pretty predictable, save for Meryl Streep.

And what about Ms. Streep? Personally, I was gunning for Viola Davis, but Streep as a pretty terrific reputation in this industry (albeit a reputation I don’t entirely understand), so it’s not like this was something that came out of left field.  Everything else I more or less agree with. Viola Davis, the bevy of awards for The Artist, Jim Rash (of Community fame) getting an oscar for The Descendants- it all works for me.

Also, a quick note about the talking heads that kept popping up between awards- I get  certain people like Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and plenty of others are important figures in Hollywood, but… Adam Sandler? Reese Witherspoon? Seth Rogen? Why are those people there? Why should I care what they think about movies as a legitimate art form? The same goes for that movie montage in the beginning that seemed to have no recurring theme other than “all of these are movies-” why are things like Titanic and Avatar and Twilight being featured here? I don’t understand.

So yeah, the Oscars were a little tame and a little predictable this year, and secretly I missed being able to point and laugh at James Franco’s total lack of emotion, but this wasn’t terrible. And sadly, that’s the best praise I can lay on the Academy Awards this year.

“This wasn’t terrible.”

I can’t wait ’till it all happens again next year.

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19 responses to “Some Afterthoughts on the 2012 Academy Awards

  1. I definitely agree. It’s hard to judge since I haven’t seen a lot of the movies that were nominated, but I do know from past experience that the Oscars are a popularity contest any way. And Avatar rocks! 😉

  2. I need to defend Reese Witherspoon since she is an Oscar winner. Other than that I reflect your sentiments. One other thing I did not understand was the Cirque du Soleil performance. It was great but how is it there was time for it with none for the whole 2 best songs nominated?
    In case you didn’t see this there was a great uptight review of the show by my favorite film critic Anthony Lane in the New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/02/the-oscars-not-unlike-teen-age-sex.html

    • The Best Original Song thing is really staggering. Not only are the rules so needlessly strict that there were only two nominees, but we didn’t even get to hear them.

      Oh, Oscars. When will you learn.

  3. I enjoyed Billy Crystal’s performance, and thought it was far better than the disastrous show last year. Many of the performers were hit and miss (multiple complaints at Ben STiller, Emma Stone, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Rock). As for the winners, I’m groaning over Streep’s win, mostly because The Iron Lady is a bad film (Davis should have won).

    But I applauded for The Artist, Hugo, and Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash (who hilariously parodied Angelina Jolie) for winning Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants. The winners were mostly safe other than Streep and the surprise for editing (which went to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

    Also, thanks for the 7X7 nomination!

  4. While I think The Artist and Hugo were good movies for what they did it does bother me a little bit that there was an obvious bias towards movies that are about how great movies are. I like books, I write books, I teach literature, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find merit in a book that’s not about how fantastic books are. Not that these both weren’t fantastic movies…I guess I’m just on my personal soapbox.

    I am very surprised that Streep won for the Iron Lady, not that she isn’t a fantastic actress, but I’m not sure her performance in Iron Lady was leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Just look at Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, it takes a great actress to pull that kind of transition off and I’m not sure how well Streep as Margaret Thatcher compares to that or any of the other nominees.

    • Streep’s win definitely felt like it was based on politics, not on merit. And your soapbox makes sense- on the one hand, the theme of this years awards was all based around how great it is to go to the movies, but at the same time… plenty of movies this year were fantastic and didn’t overtly reference how great the movies themselves are.

      *cough*Drive*cough

      • Oh, I don’t agree. I like, not love, Streep but had to say that her performance was amazing. Okay, a lot of that was fantastic makeup–part of the time I found myself staring at her image and thinking, “Is that really Meryl Streetp?” but her accent and mannerisms were spot-on.

        Yes, Viola Davis was brilliant in a very good film, and the rest of the nominees were equally good. But Streep’s performance was in another realm.

        AS for the show, there were a few missteps, but it was loads better than last year, which was just plain embarrassing.

  5. Well,

    I likeyour review Adam. But,I think you’re being “too fair” on Billy Crystal. Seeing him there, I could envisage the 80-yearolds watching the Oscars. And to be honest, that’s fine everyone is expected to watch the Oscars but I’d much rather watch som1 younger, hipper, more attractive do that. I could feel Ricky Gervais’ absence throughout the awards ceremony. It’s clear why they choose him to do the Globes.

    As to the awards as such, I haven’t seen the Artist -did u write a review abt it btw?- but I am intrigued especially whether I can sit through a silent film for 2 hours.

    The Descendants was a good film and deserved the nomination -probably not the best movie award.

    I can understand why Brad Pitt doesn’t win anything but he’s trying really damn hard. And Angelina always look sgreat

    • Ricky Gervais fits in well at the Golden Globes, but I feel like his particular sensibilities wouldn’t really fly at the Oscars. I watch Gervais to see him openly mock celebrities, and the Globes themselves are sort of a sham, so I don’t mind hearing Gervais viciously mock everyone in attendance.

      The Oscars, while a tad stale and outdated, still carry more respect than the Globes do, and I don’t know if Gervais would be the right choice.

      And I haven’t written a review of The Artist- I’m planning on writing one once it comes to the second-run theater in my city.

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