Yet another Academy Awards has now come and gone. This year, in regards to entertainment, I thought the broadcast was actually rather fun to watch. However, there are some big flaws in the race that were too big to ignore.
First off, the broadcast STILL runs way too long. I know that this is a common complaint and that it is repeated year after year, but when the broadcast goes a FULL half hour over its intended timeslot, there’s an issue. Part of that lies in the fact that everyone seems to have needed to have a long winding speech this year. It dragged on and while some of them did work (more on that later), it feels as if they were dragged on for way too long (although it WAS rather funny to see people keep going after the music stopped and then the music starts up again).
However, there are positives in all of this. Neil Patrick Harris, to me, was a rather entertaining host. Getting the man who hosted the Tony’s numerous times as well as the Emmy’s was a wise choice. Harris also did something I rarely see many Oscar hosts do in recent years (save for Ellen DeGeneres of course): actually go out and interact with the audience. It felt as if Harris had a connection at home with the audience, something not seen since the Carson days. Some jokes Harris had hit the mark, such as the first joke he made of the night commenting on the Oscar nominees this year.
However, most of the jokes that Harris and his team came up with were painfully unfunny, with jokes ranging from awful puns to just jokes that fell flat. The bit involving Octavia Spencer and Harris’ predictions felt forced, the bit involving David Oyelowo reading about how the Annie remake failed felt incredibly mean-spirited. I would not mind seeing Harris host again, but some time refining the jokes would be a major help.
(Although to be honest, I want John Travolta to host next year’s Oscars…..because for the last two years, he has been consistently entertaining as a presenter, even if it’s just downright weird sometimes. #TravoltaforOscars).
But now let us move on to the winners this year. The list of winners was a bit of a roller coaster: some were surprising, others have been called since the beginning. One of the biggest surprises of the night was the Best Animated Feature category. Many, including myself, pegged either How To Train Your Dragon 2 or even The Tale of Princess Kaygua to win. However, it was Big Hero 6 who took home the statue. This was surprising to me, as I thought that the film, while very good, was the one in a million shot winner for the Oscar. It never felt that STRONG enough to win.
Well this would not be the first time I would be proven wrong.
On the visual effects front, I was also surprised to see Interstellarto win, as I had my money pegged on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. While the visuals inside the wormholes as well as the final act of the film was a visual marvel, I was hoping for Dawn simply because the idea that WETA merged CGI creations that felt real and lifelike against a real, actual location backdrop was nothing short of amazing. I am not sad that it lost to Interstellar, far from it. I am just commenting on the fact that visually, Dawn was nothing short of wonderful in terms of visuals.
Also, Andy Serkis REALLY deserves an Oscar at this point….all I’m going to say.
But now let’s get into some of the big winners of the night. The winners’ speeches seemed to focus heavily on topics that seemed to be rather taboo in today’s world. Perhaps the most inspirational speech of the night came from Graham Moore, the screenwriter who won for The Imitation Game. His speech was entirely inspirational, as he bravely revealed that he had planned to commit suicide at age 16 but decided against it. He then encouraged everyone to, “stay weird.”
Patricia Arquette, who won Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood, talked about how it was time for women to have equal wages and equal rights. This, obviously, drew simultaneous praise from the audience and criticism from some others. Me? I thought it was rather inspirational to hear and I also was just glad she won for her performance.
Finally, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, who won Best Director AND Best Picture for Birdman also gave a speech during his Best Picture win about how Mexicans deserve “respect and dignity” for those living in the United States. The speech was a powerful and stirring one, and touched upon the hot topic of immigration reform.
Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor over Michael Keaton, which I was sad about I have not seen The Theory of Everything yet so I was rooting for Keaton to win. I am sure that Redmayne is wonderful but I was surprised that Keaton, with his visceral performance as Riggan, did not get it.
I was rather surprised that Boyhood, a film that took 12 years to make, something that has not been done within cinematic history, was only given just one award. A bit shocking, considering its unprecedented and unique narrative structure.
The Oscars, though, were rather well done this year. Harris was engaging with his audience and the winners were excellent picks. However, for the love of film (see what I did there?), please make this telecast short by AT LEAST a half-hour to an hour. Winners, while understanding that they want to think everyone, need to keep their speeches shorter and some of the humor really REALLY needs to work better.
Also, someone get John Travolta as host. After the last two years of wonderful awkwardness, why not?
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