Out of Tune at the Oscars

I think everything that can be said about this year’s Oscars ceremony is going to be said tonight and tomorrow.  I can sleep well knowing Seth MacFarlane is going to be deservedly ripped apart for one of the worst hosting performances in recent Oscar memory.  I certainly thought he was terrible.

Hatred for the host aside though, this was supposed to be an Oscar ceremony I could get behind.  When I heard this awards show had a theme and that theme was an ode to music and movies, I thought this would be right up my alley.  I am about as fervent a musical fan as you’re going to find, so paying tribute to them during the biggest awards show of the year amounted to lobbing a giant softball straight through the front window of my wheelhouse.

And yet.

There was a period of time in my life where I kind of fell out of love with the movies.  I didn’t see anything in the theaters that inspired me, the movies that were in vogue were of the genres and ilks of movies I just couldn’t get into, and I felt like I was at a disadvantage not being a 16 year old dude who loves comic books.

I kind of felt that way again tonight.  The sophomoric host and his moronic jokes, the presenters fresh off Avengers rehearsal, and the montage devoted to Bond girls and retro-style editing wipes and splashes all felt tailor made to appeal to young guys.  

The treatment of the musical was worst of all though.  If there is one thing it is typically difficult to market to 16 year old boys, it is the musical.  This is an old Hollywood genre whose best pictures most certainly came four or five decades ago. So, to see the Academy parade around MacFarlane as a song and dance man instead of Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra or last year’s solid Oscar host, Billy Crystal, was a knife to my heart.  Treating the mediocre “Chicago” as our generation’s “West Side Story” was a series of painful twists of that knife. And Russell Crowe’s brief crooning on stage amounted to someone taking that knife and meticulously removing my aorta.

There were a few shining moments.  I don’t think anyone can argue with the presence of Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand.  I even thought the Channing Tatum/Charlize Theron tribute to Fred and Ginger and the Gordon-Levitt/Radcliffe ode to Kelly and O’Connor were charming.  But the rest of this tribute to a genre I hold so near and dear to my heart was the most out of key component of a ceremony that tonally missed the mark on just about everything.

Thankfully, the winners made up for what the production team lacked.  Christoph Waltz’s surprise victory kicked off the awards with a bang and there were surprises throughout the night.  When Ang Lee took Best Director, I had a real “Oh shit” moment because, for the first time in years, Best Picture was seriously in doubt.

Lately I watched the Oscars because I was intrigued by the show and not the movies.  If this year is really the year that I have fully given in to being a cinephile again, it is only fitting that this year the only good thing about the Oscars wasn’t the show–it was the films the show was honoring.


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