Knee-jerk review: "The 85th Annual Academy Awards"

1. We admire Seth McFarlane.  He's a self-made man, an artist who toiled in obscurity animating lame Hanna Barbera cartoons while quietly crafting the idea that would became the juggernaut "Family Guy."  His success was not handed to him.  We like that.  Yeah yeah, "Family Guy" never explored high-minded social satire like "The Simpsons," but it certainly can still be funny, cramming in more jokes-per-minute than just about anything we've ever seen.  The fact that so many of the gags are directed right at the pop culture nostalgia of Generation X makes it all the more appealing in that inside baseball sort of way.  If you get it, you're in the club.
2. We have mixed feelings about "We Saw Your Boobs."  Hmmm.  The juvenile side of us finds it quite hilarious, especially given the many hours we logged long ago (not now, of course, don't be silly) looking for naked scenes in movies.  But there's also a side of us that's a little offended, a side that doesn't like how the song reduces talented actresses' accomplishments to some fleeting nude scene in a way that simply can't be done in a similarly insulting way for male actors.  Then again, one could argue that this is the hallmark of a great gag: you laugh and cringe at the same time.  Extra credit for the convoluted time-travel set-up, by the way, which allowed Seth to do the bit while also openly acknowledging how inappropriate it is.  Extra credit also for stating what we all know to be true: Kate Winslet invariably takes off her clothes in every movie.
3. The Captain Kirk thing went on too long.  We're in agreement on that, right?
4. That's surely the first Smokey and the Bandit reference on network TV in since the 1990s.  "We're gonna do what they say cain't be done."  Aside: there is no obvious evidence of medical intervention on Sally Field's face.
5. A shocking win for Christoph Waltz and Django Unchained.   Wow.  Is it just us or is Waltz essentially playing the same character that won him the Oscar for Inglourious Basterds?  They sound... exactly... the same.  It's the same guy, people.  Guess you have to give the Academy credit for consistency.  They really really like whatever it is Waltz has been doing.  Maybe he should keep doing it.
6. Any acceptance speech that isn't just a list of names is a good one in our book.  We often wonder if the Oscars should somehow come with closed-captions so viewers at home can keep track of the agents, producers, publicists, and attorneys getting name-checked at the podium.
7. If there is any equal of our beloved filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, it's probably Ang Lee.  Both of them refuse to be pigeonholed in a single style, choosing instead to travel in a variety of genres.  Westerns, sci-fi, superheroes, thrillers, heists, fantasy, period drama.  They don't always succeed, but their efforts are always intriguing.  We could use more directors like this.
8. For these overviews of the Best Picture nominees, why can't they show a single powerhouse scene to really take us into the movie?  Why do we instead get these trailer-like montages?
9. Maybe Joss Whedon should have written the banter for The Avengers actors.  Awkward and unfunny.
10. We felt bad that the visual effects guy was cut off by the Jaws theme, especially since he was trying to talk about the fragile, hopelessly dysfunctional state of the visual effects industry.  But these people were surely all told a million times how much time they had and what would happen if they ran over.  If he wanted to preach about visual effects finances, he should have started sooner.  What if everyone were indulged and allowed to talk as long as they wanted?  Dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria.
11. How embarrassing would it be if the winner for Best Costume Design showed up wearing something really ugly?  Would the Oscar win offset any perception of fashion incompetence?  Could they still get hired?  These are the things we think about.
12. Very exciting!  Fifty years of James Bond... but then all we get is a long montage clip.  At the very least, shouldn't the six Bond actors stroll out on stage in matching tuxedos to thunderous applause?  Then we learned from Deadline's Nikki Finke that Connery hates the Broccoli family.  How petty.
13. It feels wrong to hear Halle Berry say "Pussy Galore."
14. Shirley Bassey is still alive?  Huh.
15. If you can't get the Bond actors, then the next best thing would have been to coax to the stage McCartney for "Live and Let Die" (best Bond song ever) and Carly Simon for "Nobody Does It Better" to hit the trifecta.
16.  At this point, stand-up comedy and sitcoms are just an amusing footnote to Jamie Foxx's career, aren't they?
17. The orchestra is up the street and around the corner in the Capitol Building.  Why? 
18. An homage to classic movie musicals... of the last ten years only... and one of which is up for Best Picture this year.  We liked the Les Miserables showstopper, but in general, this felt like a waste of 15 minutes.  It was pointed out to us later that the people who are producing the Oscars - producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan - are Broadway guys who helped make Chicago.  Now it's starting to make sense, isn't it?
19. This goes without saying, but we'll say it anyway.  It is absolutely ridiculous what filmmakers can do with computer technology (even as they run effects companies into the ground - see #10 above).  It's easy to spot big tentpole effects of dinosaurs and aliens and nuclear holocausts, sure.  But the majority of the effects work that you see in movies is completely seamless and rendered so realistically and vividly that you'd never guess it was an effect at all.
20. We laughed out loud at the Von Trapp "They're gone!" gag.  Sorry.
21. As is often the case, Best Supporting Actress goes to the ingenue.  Oscar loves anointing cute young women.  Here, we get Anne Hathaway doing her "oh my gosh I'm so excited" routine yet again.  The realest thing about her acceptance speech is the weirdly craven moment she whispered "It came true" to her new Oscar.  We suppose we should all be happy for her, finally achieving her goal.  Doesn't she know you're supposed to pretend to be above it all and not want it that badly?  She really is like the annoying perky, hammy, isn't-it-swell? theater arts student.  That said, we can't fault her for her talent.  She has the goods.  Hathaway was easily the best thing in The Dark Knight Returns and The Devil Wears Prada is way underrated. 
22. Sit down,Harvey Weinstein, you're in the shot!
23. Okay okay, Adele's song "Skyfall" is definitely growing on us.
24. If Kristen Stewart doesn't want to be there on stage giving out an award, why is she there?
25. Stuntman (and member of the weird 1970s Burt Reynolds royal court) Hal Needham gets an honorary Oscar.  Big cable staple growing up: Needham's film Hooper.  No CGI back then.  You're really driving cars under collapsing brick smokestacks.
26. And now... "In Memoriam."  Or, that part of the show where you say "I didn't know he/she died!"
27. Here we go again with more Chicago love.  Good grief.  It was a great movie, yes.  But it was ten years ago and the show's now devoted two segments to reminding us about it.  Memo to Oscar producers: no one cares.  How about some random celebrations of Shakespeare in Love or Forrest Gump or while you're at it?  We saw a tweet that said the producers are making the Oscars into the Tonys so they can get a job producing the Emmys.  Zing!
28. Why is ABC making Seth do his own "coming up next" bumpers?  Could they not hire an announcer?
29. Quentin Tarantino is a polarizing figure, but count us among his fans.  That said, this is an unexpected win for him.  Inglourious Basterds was more deserving.  Does this mean Hollywood likes him?  It's his second Oscar for writing, so this certainly seems like validation.  
30. Jennifer Lawrence falls on the way up the steps, a humiliating moment that instantly mutes any Hathaway-ian criticism.  To us, Lawrence is like Sandra Bullock with more talent and gravitas, the cute-but-gawky girl next door who finds Hollywood politics rather amusing and any talk of her a sex symbol to be utterly ridiculous. 
32. Daniel Day Lewis wins for Lincoln.  You could have written it down back when Spielberg cast him two years ago.  That's about as stone cold a lock as Oscars give these days.  
33. We like the First Lady, but please get out of our Oscarcast, Michelle Obama.  We're trying to go to bed.  Enough of these gimmicky shenanigans.  Open the envelope and let's call it a night.
34. The more we think about it, the sillier it seems to have this many Best Picture nominees.  Five was a nice round number.  You get two critics' choice front runners, a populist box office hit, an arty indie, and a dark horse.  It made sense.  Now it's just this weird free for all.  Five one year, ten the next.  Stop the madness.
35. Argo deserved it.

Here's what we said about the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.  You know, the year The King's Speech won.  And the 81st Annual Academy Awards.  The year that Slumdog Millionaire won.

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