By Victoria Looseleaf
You know the annual Oscar extravaganza is in trouble when one of the best moments happens before the proceedings. We’re talkin’ about the glorious prank our man Sacha Baron Cohen, aka The Dictator, pulled when he dumped ashes he says belonged to the late Kim Jong Il, all over Ryan Seacrest, the most overpaid, overexposed emblem of mediocrity show biz has managed to produce in recent years. (We do think, however, Seacrest handled it with a modicum of finesse, though we understand the American Idol emcee was somewhat, er, miffed.)
As for Billy Crystal returning to host the affair for the ninth time, he would have been better off kept on ice in some sort of cryogenic-like holding cell, his actual on-air visage/mummification making King Tut look like the boy wonder he actually was. In other words, Crystal wasn’t funny, relevant or worthy of the gig (okay, we did like his Sammy Davis, Jr., all racism aside, below), and here’s hoping that next year brings a breath of originality in the form of, well, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy or even, hmm, Lewis Black.
WTF and why not? (We normally would be touting Ricky Gervais, though his major wimp-fest at the Globes significantly lowered his ranking in our book, not to mention that the Oscars would never have a British host, our love of Brit men notwithstanding.)
In any case, most of our prognostications came true (click here for our picks and pans), with our favorite film, The Artist, snagging top honors with five wins, and Hugo accruing its five-statuette bounty in technical areas.
The big upset of the evening, though, was Meryl Streep, who, in Lanvin’s hideous gold lamé gown that looked like a shower curtain from Cleopatra’s court, managed to sneak the little man away from Viola Davis in the best actress category (Streep’s third Oscar win). “They like her, they really really like her,” is what we thought about the academy members sticking to their own kind (average age, 62, white and, well, male), but if you ponder the situation, Streep’s Thatcher could have been a great drag performance; it certainly took the pancake makeup from Glenn Close in the unfortunate Albert Nobbs).
Davis, who gave one emotional acceptance speech after another during the awards season – aside from Streep copping the Globe – must have freaked out, though being a fine thespian she did hide her disappoint with aplomb. We don’t feel too bad, however, cuz Viola is still (relatively) young and has a (somewhat) long career ahead of her.
Indeed, Viola would make a great Michelle Obama, not to mention Angela Davis, Winnie Mandela or, umm…, perhaps a Zora Neale Hurston or Lorraine Hansbury. (Click here for our L.A. Times interview with Davis from 2004; click here for our musings on Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning response to Hansbury’s classic, A Raisin in the Sun.)
As for presenters, we did like Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell (click here for more about the former), spoofing marching bands and cymbalists, but, for the most part, the bequeathers were as dull as their teleprompted words. (Where was Bruce Vilanch when we really needed him?) Then there was the lack of production numbers, which was, to put it mildly, pathetic.
Face it: The Cirque du Soleil scene just didn’t cut it (click here to read our take of Iris, not a pretty picture), and why there were only two best original song entries is beyond baffling. Admittedly, we wouldn’t have wanted to see Madonna crowing about anything related to her bomb of a movie, W.E., much less the song she was “persuaded” to write (and for which the Hollywood Foreign Press fawned all over her by awarding her the Globe). Hah!
Oy! And don’t get us started on the fashions. We long for the days of Bob Mackie and Cher (talk about “oxy-tv,” Mackie can be seen hawking his appliquéd leisure suits for aging Floridians on the shopping channel…), or Björk’s ode to insanity in her inspired sartorial choice – a swan-necked faux tutu.
In other words, nothing really stood out, and that goes for Angelina Jolie flashing her leg in an otherwise drab black Atelier Versace gown. That the thigh-baring pose was immediately aped by The Descendants screenwriters Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash after they accepted the screenplay award from Jolie means nothing (and wasn’t all that amusing). By the way: Is it us or has Ms. Jolie come to resemble her very own Madame Tussaud creation, even when she opens her mouth to speak, the Twitterati be damned, as there were allegedly 3399 tweets per minute (see @AngiesRightLeg), about Jolie’s pretentious and put-upon, er, position.
To quote Meryl Streep after winning the Gold, “…but whatever!”
Tomorrow at this time we won’t remember 99% of the telecast, including most of the losers, also-rans and what-have-yous. (And we’re doing our best to forget anything having to do with Melissa McCarthy and Jonah Hill, that’s for sure.)
Even Uggie’s appearance couldn’t save the show from complete ennui, appearing as it did during the final moments when The Artist was crowned with Hollywood’s top honor. So, until next year, it’s au revoir and bon chance – goodnight and good luck. And may the best Frenchman continue to show Hollywood how it’s done!