The 82nd Annual Academy Awards: A Fine Kerfuffle

Well, the 82nd Annual Academy Awards Ceremony has come and gone, and I’m still reeling from it/have forgotten about it completely.

Few challenges are more daunting for me than figuring out fresh new ways to talk about the Oscars every year. We could spend all night talking about “what it means about the industry” that various films won various awards, but after my year of quiet non-Oscar meditation* I’ve reached a zen state that has allowed me to separate my heart from my 3D glasses. Not only did I pick almost all of the right winners (and all of the important ones), winning my private Oscar pool** for the first time ever, but I also felt only the mildest of twinges when Avatar won Best Cinematography*** and Fantastic Mr. Fox lost Best Animated Feature. Even if those mild twinges really were more like middling pangs, I was over it fast and instead using my energy to fume about recent user interface changes on

Unprecedented! When Jamie Foxx took home the Oscar for best actor for Ray, I complained about it for weeks that somehow turned into years. In fact, I’m pretty sure I managed to bring it up again this morning at work (where I am growing ever-popular). I know you’re saying, “But Avatar didn’t win the big prize! If it had, I bet we’d never hear the end of it!” Well, look. Have you seen The Deer Hunter? Can you remember the last big budget, star-studded movie in this day and age that was made with that level of patience and thoughtfulness? It’s just not the same game anymore, and it’s not productive to wish that the awards Hollywood gives itself were for real merit and not marketing tools for DVD sales. Who cares, right? It’s an industry that employs thousands and delights millions. Don’t think about the marketing and the publicity stunts and the polls that show what different demographics respond to. Let’s leave Jurassic Park to the T-Rexes and raptors and helicopter the heck out of here. Things will get better, eventually, and in the meantime, we can live happily within our queues.

In more cheerful news, this newer, happier philosophy doesn’t prevent me in any way from criticizing the actual awards ceremony itself! So without further ado, the following chart represents key moments of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards that deserve mention….for one reason or another.

Thumbs up Thumbs down
Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin’s opening dialogue – lots of insider jokes, but they seemed vague enough for the rest of us to understand. 4 stars. That weird opening thing where all of the actor/actress nominees walked to the edge of the stage and stood there smiling awkwardly, like a mother/daughter fashion show. One star for the discomfort it caused me, one star for good intentions. 2 stars.
Neil Patrick Harris’s song and dance number. That guy can sing and dance AT THE SAME TIME, plus I detected a hint of good writing. 3.5 stars. The strange hybrid dance medley that took the place of the usual Best Song performances often scattered about the evening. Tempted to give it one star, but picturing that silly X-treme dancer guy flip around during the poignant love moment still makes me laugh a lot, so that’s 2 stars again.
The presence of Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges are always nice reminders that at least some people are probably pretty cool, with normal-looking spouses and a healthy dose of awareness that it used to be Kramer vs. Kramer that landed them nominations, not Julie and Julia. 4.5 stars. The young folks of today. Girl from Twilight looked like she’d rather be anywhere else. I half expected to see a shot of her slumped in her seat, tweeting away about how Meryl Streep was sooo nice and gracious but Zac Efron totally acted like all that sexting last week never happened. 1 star.
The sentiment behind peers saying nice things about peers is awesome. I was heartened that they honored the nominees like that. 3.5 stars. I should say I was heartened to HEAR they did that. It was so boring that I dozed off instantly. 2 stars.
Sandra Bullock really makes me happy, I’m not sure why. She seems like a down-to-earth gal who has her priorities in order. Her speech was good (unlike the Best Costumes winner, who spat “This is my third Oscar” as soon as she had everyone’s attention), and I really think she will go far. 3 stars. SANDRA BULLOCK WON BEST ACTRESS! The Oscars are dead. Long live the Oscars. 1.5 stars.

In conclusion, the 82nd Yada Yada gets an average total of 3 stars. To me, that means it was nothing I didn’t expect – a mildly entertaining parade of stars with some underwhelming performances and a few good jokes at the expense of famous people. I’m pretty sure in Netflix terms, 3 stars means “It was OK,” but I can’t verify that information because I can’t figure out their damn site.

Here’s to 2010 – may you deliver some award-worthy gems. Thx!

*Otherwise known as the “No Stand Is Worth Taking If It Means One Must Miss Hugh Frigging Jackman and Shahrukh Flipping Khan” year.
**Me, Justin Morgan, a spreadsheet, and whoever we can get to humor us.
***No honestly, it makes no sense. Do some quick Internet research about cinematography and pull up the past winners and then get back here and tell me I am wrong.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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