Tag Archives: Academy Awards

Oscars 2015 Review

Hello All!    here!  So, another year of the Oscars has come and gone.  This year’s show actually felt like it lasted forever that many years of Oscar may have come and gone for all I know!  Although there were a few fun moments, I did not enjoy this year’s Academy Awards broadcast. Believe it or not, the awards themselves don’t ever really matter. They are not what make or break the show itself. So what worked and what didn’t? What needs to go and how can they improve? Get ready to read a long rant! Let’s go through it, shall we?

The Host

 NPH

I did not have any expectations, high or low, for Neil Patrick Harris as the host. I had heard he had done a great job hosting the Tony’s so I was confident he could sing, dance and put on a show. However, I was a tad irked that once again they chose someone who was more of a television and stage actor to present movie awards. However, Ellen worked out a lot better than I thought she would have last year, so I was sure he would’ve been good enough.

I was wrong.

The show started off well enough with a great song and dance number (although, the use of the phrase “moving pictures” was way overused for some reason), but things quickly fell apart after that. From lame jokes and terribly conceived gags (i.e. the locked box of predictions that no one cared about) to a complete lack of stage presence, the host was just doomed. The second he tried to call out Oprah as a part of his opening jokes and she was not really playing along I had horrible flashbacks of David Letterman and his unforgettable (and not for good reasons) “Uma-Oprah” bit )*shudder*) and knew Neil Patrick Harris needed to hop on a sled because he was going downhill fast.   Still, I held out hope.

     Sadly, Neil Patrick Harris was a terrible host. Some of the blame lies with him, but most of the blame lies with the producer and the writers. What was supposed to be a lot of tongue in cheek and less of a stuffy show just ended up being very awkward and unfunny. I felt as though they thought Ellen’s interaction within the crowd went over so well last year that they needed to do more of the same this year.   Problem is that Neil Patrick Harris did not have the same spark going with the members of the audience there or the members of the audience at home.

ellen_selfie_oscars

     The throws and introductions were just written so terribly and NPH’s timing just seemed off so many times. His quick wit should’ve helped him, but instead I found it a bit insensitive and even offensive. Making a joke about that woman’s puff-ball dress (“It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that”) immediately after she had just finished talking about her son who had committed suicide was in unbelievably bad taste!

The Show

First things fist in this section, why in the world did they keep referring to theses awards and this ceremony as The Oscars? They didn’t once call them The Academy Awards. Were they trying to relate more to the common man and seem less stuffy? Umm, they’re called The Academy Awards. It’s OKAY to call them that. I found that very strange.

Now, an issue I have every year is the amount of time wasted on the SONGS. Yes, I realize you want to be able to have some sort of a show going on to entertain people because your actual awards show is so terribly boring, but this is not the way. These are an awards show about MOVIES. You want to be more entertaining? How about some montages and clips about movies.   There’s a novel idea! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a song or two here or there or even an entire 5-8 minute segment where there is a medley of all nominated songs, but what I do NOT like is stretching an already long and tedious awards show even longer for the sake of “entertainment” provided by live singing performances. Enough already.

It was completely unnecessary to have Jennifer Hudson singing a song after the In Memoriam montage. If they really wanted to have her singing they could’ve had her doing it over the montage. In my opinion, it wasn’t needed at all, really.

87th Annual Academy Awards - Show

Quick Aside – While we’re on the point of In Memoriam, I am one of those people who can’t believe they left out Joan Rivers. I was not a fan of Rivers, but she basically created this red carpet phenomenon that most awards shows are based on. Gone are the days when the awards shows were actually about the awards and it’s mostly because of Joan Rivers. I understand many people in the Academy probably didn’t like her and it’s easy to justify not including her, but she did work in a few movies and she was a pioneer in the world of female comics, so they really should have included her.

Back to the songs, I have a bit of a beef with one of the most fun performances of the night – Everything is Awesome. After being snubbed by The Academy, I feel like the Lego people shouldn’t have helped to make such a great performance for The Oscars. Yes, I know that’s just me being spiteful and that the Everything is Awesome performance was one of the best parts of the show, but why should the Lego people help The Oscars to put on a good show at all after being snubbed?

 lego

     Going back to NPH for a second, I thought it was very strange how he kept making these quips throughout the show, I assume they were supposed to be funny, that would purposely point out the Academy’s flawed choices. Case in point, The Lego Movie. When it came time for Best Animated Feature he introduced the category by saying if anyone was with the Lego people at a party it would be a good time to distract them. It was supposed to be funny that he was aware and pointing out that the Lego movie was snubbed. He was making fun of the very awards show he was supposed to be hosting. Okay, fine, I get it.

This sort of “joke” happened many times throughout the night and each time it did I didn’t find it comical. I thought it was pretty dumb of the writers to be pointing out what terrible choices The Academy has made. For example, when Jennifer Aniston and David Oyelowo came out NPH made it a point to say, “Two people who absolutely deserve to be here tonight.” Oh, he’s pointing out they were also snubbed and didn’t get a nomination.  Funny?  Not so much.

 david oyelowo

What about the fact that this year’s Oscar nominations got so much flack for not being racially diverse enough? Oh, they tackled that too in their own tongue in cheek, let’s-make-fun-of-ourselves way. NPH went down into the crowd or he called out to a lot of people from the stage and many times it was to talk to some of the African American people in the crowd.  That’s not to say he didn’t talk to other people as well, it just felt a bit contrived when Ocativa Spencer was put in charge of that ridiculous predictions box and called upon many, many, many…too many times or when he asked David Oyelowo to read out something unfunny off of a card. Granted, he did talk to other people in the crowd as well…seat fillers. Who thought this stuff would be funny or entertaining?!

John Travolta

Yes, he needs a section all his own. What in the world was up with him?! The bit with him and Idina Menzel was a perfect opportunity for John Travolta to redeem himself and for the entire world to laugh WITH HIM instead of AT HIM…but…Travolta happened. Why in the world was be being so touchy-feely with poor Idina Menzel’s face?   I feel like she’s probably still washing her face after that bit.

 idina

As if that wasn’t weird enough, his red carpet antics were even worse!

 scarjo

He looked weird, he acted weird, he was just weird.

Sound of Music

My favourite, and one of the only real highlights of the night for me, was the surprise that:

(a) Lady Gaga cleans up real nice

(b) There was a Sound of Music tribute!

(c) Lady Gaga can sing so well!

(d) JULIE ANDREWS!!!!!!!!

 ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

     The Sound of Music tribute was unexpected and perfect. I’m glad I had no idea it was coming. It was simple, well executed and everything I had wanted The Academy to do for Gone With the Wind when it turned 75 last year, but instead they COMPLETELY IGNORED IT! Instead, we got a lame Wizard of Oz tribute. Wizard of Oz didn’t win the Oscar, Gone with the Wind did. I understand many people love it and it deserved to be acknowledged, but not at the cost of ignoring Gone With the Wind, one of the greatest films ever made. But, I digress.

 don't give a damn

(Except, I do! Lol)

How to Fix the Show

First off, let me produce it. I’d be great at it. On the off chance they don’t choose me for next year, here are some suggestions to make it quicker, snappier and to bring back some more emotion and feeling to the show:

  • – Start the show at 8pm instead of 8:30pm
  • – Schedule it for 3.5 hours and stop pretending you can get it into 3 hours.
  • – If you want to get it into 3 hours then cut out the songs. Make one medley performance of songs.
  • – Have a few short tribute montages throughout the show for entertainment factor since you’ve now gotten rid of the songs.
  • – Bring back the honourary Oscars to the main show.
  • – Allow proper time for heartfelt speeches because those actually mean something and that’s what you remember.
  • – Get rid of the host, or use the host minimally. Have the host do one kick off number, a short monologue of jokes and then simply use them to introduce the presenters and nothing more.   Better yet, no host at all. Use various celebrities to do the initial kick off number since that’s what they seem to do anyways for a successful start.   Have a voice-over introduce the presenters.
  • – Present a few awards at a time so it actually feels like an awards show (They presented ONE award in the first 25 minutes yesterday).

There you have it. That’s my rant. Agree or disagree? Let me know!

–  

Ranking of Best Picture Oscar Winners

Sunita aka   here!

With the Oscars airing tomorrow, I thought I would try to rank all the Best Picture winners from least enjoyable to watch to the greatest picture I have ever seen. I have seen all but 4 of the best picture winners from the past, so those four will not be included in the list.

Ranking Criteria, as thought up with the help of my counterpart, PJ:

  • How much I liked it
  • Re-watchability
  • How much I actually remember it
  • Nostalgia factor

Nothing really technical, nothing really over the top. They are mostly being ranked based on how much I liked it. Here goes:

Not included:

1928/1929 – “The Broadway Melody”

1932/1933 – “Cavalcade”

1948 – “Hamlet”

1980 – “Ordinary People”

 

 

Listed from least liked to most:

82 – 1963 – “Tom Jones”

81 – 1938 – “You Can’t Take It with You”

80 – 1998 – “Shakespeare in Love”

79 – 1996 – “The English Patient”

78 – 1930/1931 – “Cimarron”

77 – 1944 – “Going My Way”

76 – 1971 – “The French Connection”

75 – 1983 – “Terms of Endearment”

74 – 1969 – “Midnight Cowboy”

73 – 1929/1930 – “All Quiet on the Western Front”

72 – 1979 – “Kramer vs. Kramer”

71 – 1999 – “American Beauty”

70 – 1977 – “Annie Hall”

69 – 1984 – “Amadeus”

68 – 1990 – “Dances With Wolves”

67 – 1936 – “The Great Ziegfeld”

66 – 1942 – “Mrs. Miniver”

65 – 1985 – “Out of Africa”

64 – 1958 – “Gigi”

63 – 1986 – “Platoon”

62 – 2009 – “The Hurt Locker”

61 – 1995 – “Braveheart”

60 – 1991 – “The Silence of the Lambs”

59 – 1951 – “An American in Paris”

58 – 2000 – “Gladiator”

57 – 1968 – “Oliver!”

56 – 2001 – “A Beautiful Mind”

55 – 1981 – “Chariots of Fire”

54 – 1952 – “The Greatest Show on Earth”

53 – 1961 – “West Side Story”

52 – 1978 – “The Deer Hunter”

51 – 1989 – “Driving Miss Daisy”

50 – 2005 – “Crash”

49 – 1946 – “The Best Years of Our Lives”

48 – 1956 – “Around the World in 80 Days” 

47 – 1964 – “My Fair Lady”

46 – 1975 – “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

45 – 1988 – “Rain Man”

44 – 1945 – “The Lost Weekend”

43 – 1960 – “The Apartment”

42 – 2007 – “No Country for Old Men”

41 – 2012 – “Argo” 

40 – 1935 – “Mutiny on the Bounty”

39 – 1970 – “Patton”

38 – 1950 – “All About Eve”

37 – 1967 – “In the Heat of the Night”

36 – 1966 – “A Man for All Seasons”

35 – 1973 – “The Sting”

34 – 2004 – “Million Dollar Baby”

33 – 1937 – “The Life of Emile Zola”

32 – 1941 – “How Green Was My Valley”

31 – 1949 – “All the Kings Men”

30 – 2006 – “The Departed”

29 – 1934 – “It Happened One Night”

28 – 1953 – “From Here to Eternity”

27 – 1940 – “Rebecca”

26 – 1947 – “Gentleman’s Agreement”

25 – 1931/1932 – “Grand Hotel”

24 – 2011 – 12 Years A Slave

23 – 1957 – “The Bridge on the River Kwai”

22 – 2010 – “The King’s Speech”

21 – 1987 – “The Last Emperor”

20 – 1954 – “On the Waterfront”

19 – 1955 – “Marty”

18 – 1962 – “Lawrence of Arabia”

17 – 1927/1928 – “Wings”

16 – 1993 – “Schindler’s List”

15 – 1959 – “Ben-Hur”

14 – 1992 – “Unforgiven”

13 – 2011 – “The Artist”

12 – 2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire”

11 – 1974 – “The Godfather Part II”

10 – 1994 – “Forrest Gump”

9 – 2002 – “Chicago”

8- 1965 – “The Sound of Music”

7 – 1976 – “Rocky”

6- 1943 – “Casablanca”

5 – 2003 – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

4 – 1997 – “Titanic”

3 – 1939 – “Gone with the Wind”

2 – 1982 – “Gandhi”

1 – 1972 – “The Godfather”

Does Boyhood really deserve an Oscar?

With the Academy Awards airing this Sunday, there’s always one big question on everyone’s minds:

What will win Best Picture?

The last 40 years Oscar-winning Best Pictures.  But how many truly deserved to win?
The last 40 years of Oscar-winning Best Pictures (minus last year’s “12 Years as Slave” which had yet to win).  How many truly deserved to win?

This year there are two clear front-runners: Birdman – a tale of a washed-up star trying to make his way back into the limelight after his past fame portraying a superhero, and Boyhood – the story of a boy, his family and his adolescent life.

boyhood
“A moving 12 year epic” …that felt like it took 12 years to watch.

Both borrow from real life in a sense. Birdman stars Michael Keaton, who once played a superhero himself  – Batman.  Boyhood shows glimpses into the relatively normal life of a (fictional) boy over twelve years.

The story of a star making his way back up in the ranks is an obvious one that Hollywood would take to, but what makes Boyhood so special? Why has it been getting so much praise and so many accolades?

The reason is that director Richard Linklater actually shot the film over the course of twelve years.

Every year, for just over eleven years — from May 2002 to August 2013 — the cast – Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater and the leading “boy” of Boyhood, Ellar Coltrane, would get together for a few days, shoot some scenes and that is how this film was born.

It was a huge and interesting endeavor, but is that a good enough reason to give a film a Best Picture Oscar?

In my opinion, no.

Whether a film deserves an award depends on the film and the product that comes out of those eleven or twelve years of filming, not just the novel fact that it was filmed over that time-frame.

Personally, I found that Boyhood isn’t a sparkling piece of art, so much as just random moments and snapshots in a boy’s life.

We rarely ever get a true sense of how he really feels or what he wants out of his life. When there actually are traumatic events happening around him, we get no sense of how he is reacting inside to them because he very blandly just passes from one phase to the next.

To be honest, the film is called “Boyhood,” but could have just as easily been called “Family Life.”  There is little to make the title boy character, Mason Jr, stand out.  There is no real internal monologue for him, so we never really get a good sense of who he is inside and how the changes in his life are impacting him, anymore than we do his sister or mother.

If this was a movie made in one year with different actors for each stage of life, it likely would be getting less than half the attention that it is now.  The editing was choppy, the story was non-existent and the premise – if shot in a year – would just be silly and mocked for not actually having a purpose or premise.

The best way for me to put this is in the frame of my past as a History major: the movie lacked a thesis.

There was no real cohesive idea that we could hold to about where this was heading or why we were watching it. The random glimpses of Mason’s life, to me, were akin to piling a bunch of snippets of facts and quotes into a paper without actually telling us what you were hoping to prove with all of that.

Maybe Linklater and others would argue that that’s precisely the point of the film – to not have a neat and tidy “thesis” or “point” because life, itself, isn’t like that…

But, if you ask me, life may not be like that, but an interesting movie should be!

So, will Boyhood win on Sunday? We’ll have to wait and see.

About a month ago, when the Golden Globes happened, everyone seemed quite enamored with it.  But, over the past few weeks that love seems to have cooled.  Many people are opening up more about the same types of criticisms I drew above, which means that the shiny novelty and excitement over a movie that was shot for more than a decade may have actually worn off.

I’ve only seen one of the other nominees at this point – The Grand Budapest Hotel so I can’t make a judgement on what I think deserves to win of the nominees. I can safely say, though, even having not seen the other six, that I’m sure at least one of them outdoes Boyhood in overall movie-making. (Even The Grand Budapest Hotel, with it’s sometimes convoluted and difficult-to-follow plot, was much more interesting, beautifully made and entertaining, to say the least).

I will agree, though, that Richard Linklater deserves the Oscar for Best Director for coming up with this ingenious and creative idea to film a movie with the same actors over twelve years.

[As an aside, I did wonder from the get-go if he got this idea from realizing we’d be watching the adolescent cast of the Harry Potter films grow up over the decade spanning 20012011, but have yet to find any proof of this fact. Linklater DID include Harry Potter a number of times in his film, which leads me to believe that maybe it WAS a bit of an inspiration…]

Even though I do not believe it necessarily deserves an Oscar, part of me hopes Boyhood will win because… well… now I’ve seen it and I’d like to add another movie to the list of Oscar-winning films I’ve seen!

-PJ