Well, it was fun while it lasted! Movies sure were great, weren't they? Man, for a while there, we really had a good thing going: Any time we had a couple of hours to spare we could just watch a movie. But now we can't. Movies passed away. R.I.P. Movies!
To mark the sad occasion, this year's Oscar ceremony was less an awards show than it was three-hour "In Memoriam" tribute segment in which celebrities helped us remember the good times when movies were still alive and well, before they were murdered by Chinese pirates and YouTube videos. Forget the fact that the film industry continues to generate billions of dollars in profits each year, if you watched this year's Oscars for any five-minute stretch, chances are you witnessed a sad and defensive group of millionaires openly lamenting the fact that they will not increase their billion-dollar profits by as much as they'd hoped. Tough times! Sad times.
But let's not get too down about how the movies died. The movies would not want us to grieve too much, no, the movies wouldn't want that at all. Instead, let's deal with the tragedy that was the 2012 Oscars in the most productive way possible: via screengrabs and snap judgments!
So first off, Morgan Freeman came out and his soothing voice immediately put me in my safe place, you know? Maybe the whole Brett Ratner-related hosting drama wouldn't have an impact on the show. Maybe we wouldn't miss Eddie Murphy after all? Maybe this thing would be full of surprises and gravitas and have the kind of soulful good spirit that someone like Morgan Freeman embodies. Was there a chance the 2012 Oscars might actually be GOOD?
Oh, Billy Crystal. I'd forgotten how awful you were! I mean, there MIGHT have been a time at some point in the '80s when his humor seemed alive and/or not phoned in, but those days are long past. Instead we got modern-day Billy Crystal, whose comedic sensibility would make Bruce Vilanch roll his eyes.
Seriously, the opening montage of film parodies was just a world of NOPE. See lookit:
The one part they got right was when Billy Crystal ate fecal matter-laced pie like in The Help (because OH YEAH that's an actual, MAJOR plot point in The Help). I liked this part because in this situation Billy Crystal was basically an audience surrogate.
This marked the first time in a long time where I actually felt bad for Tom Cruise. Leave him alone!
This was just a nightmare. Who thought this was a good idea? First of all, I thought we as a society had agreed to forget about the Adventures of Tintin's existence? But secondly AAAAAAAAHHH!! Get away!!
Please don't ask me to explain the part where Billy Crystal as Tintin grabbed onto a flying reel of celluloid and then entered the Matrix and started shouting at movie clips (?) and then morphed into some kind of awards show host messiah? I shan't explain it because I can't explain it.
Well, no matter the circumstances that brought us to this point, Billy Crystal was definitely hosting the Oscars for the ninth time, and we were just going to have to deal with it. And who knows? There were probably literally millions of elderly people out there who really enjoyed his particular toothless brand of celebrity sassery.
Whoops, probably best not to make jokes about celebrities losing weight when it appears they may have gained a bunch of it back already?
Anyway, the best parts of any awards show are always the crowd reaction shots, and this crowd was no exception. Particularly when Billy Crystal began singing his trademark awful musical number.
This girl knows what I'm talking about:
What's the opposite of smiling with your eyes?
So after that ordeal was over, we finally got down to business! It was awards time! Except then Tom Hanks walked out and did some bit about some seat-filler who's been doing it for 30 years or something.
It MIGHT have been a charming story except then Tom Hanks said it wasn't true? Which is it, Tom Hanks? Was that a marginally charming bit, or did you just waste our time with a baffling lie, Tom Hanks?
So anyway, this guy won for Cinematography:
And then this married couple won for Art Direction and they were so super Italian that this lady literally dedicated her trophy to Italy.
Also, for some reason the house band included Pharrell Williams and SHEILA E. (!)
I mean, fine. That's fine. Sheila E. was more than welcome to be there. I couldn't just question EVERY little detail of this broadcast. Gotta pick your battles, you know?
I agreed with Bret McKenzie here. Billy Crystal was attempting to describe to us how great it used to be going to the movies. Aw, poor movies! Then we got a montage of just some of the best, most important moments in film history:
After that was done, out came two fly girls:
It was cool that Cameron Diaz was back to her There's Something About Mary 'do!
One of the innovations of this broadcast was something I actually really liked: For each award there'd be a quick talking-head segment where a member of the production talked about the movie. For instance, in the Costume Design category, we got a little snippet where noted filmmaker Roland Emmerich talked about his Oscar-nominated classic Anonymous.
Anyway, this is the guy who ended up winning for Costume Design:
Oh, what loveable scamps! They were just foolin' around onstage, bein' funny, havin' a good time, and also conveniently bringing attention to their rumps. Why not? It's the Oscars!
These guys won for whatever.
This is not related to anything in particular, but do you guys remember the final scene in Death Becomes Her? The part with the mannequin spray paint?
Then we got this montage, which would recur throughout the broadcast. Various celebrities looking super dour and talking about the dearly departed.
R.I.P. movies! You will be missed.
Sandra Bullock came out and pulled out some more of her patented Sandy Bullock Deadpan Comedy, but this time impressively blew the roof off the joint by speaking Mandarin in a German accent. I'm not sure either! But I respect the weirdness of it, you know? Well played, madam.
This guy won and his speech was VERY serious and I don't remember a single word of it. Just the goatee. I will always remember that goatee.
I don't think I was the only one who wasn't paying attention though.
So then Christian Bale came out!
I was anxious to see which part of the extreme weight-loss cycle he was currently on, but he looked pretty normal? He might even be headed back into beefcake territory! It's unclear. Anyway, he introduced the nominees for Best Supporting Actress.
Yay, Octavia Spencer! I know this wasn't really in question, but still: Good actors deserve higher salaries and now she'll get it. As a movie The Help is almost outrageously problematic, but it's hard to be mad about how many amazing actresses it employed.
Anyway, the entire room was pretty stoked for her:
Even Brangelina! I actually liked these two... They just chilled in the front row looking like they were in a super good mood. Do you think they might've hot-boxed in their minivan beforehand?
It should go without saying that Billy Crystal delivered "hilarious" "jokes" throughout the show, but I wanted to point this one out in particular. He said the movie The Help inspired him to want to hug the nearest black person he could find. But because he was in Beverly Hills at the time he had to drive 45-minutes to find one. Let's just let that joke sink in for a second. Between this and the Sammy Davis Jr. blackface from earlier, WHAT YEAR IS THIS BILLY CRYSTAL? Can you please go to jail already?
Here are people who should only go to jail on Opposite Day:
Christopher Guest and crew! I'm not sure that what America was dying to see was a comedy bit about market testing, but I appreciated the bold stance taken by this sketch that market testing is probably a bad thing. That's beside the point though, because I was laughing! Especially the part where Jennifer Coolidge complained about how ugly the characters of The Wizard of Oz were.
Jennifer Coolidge wins, like always.
Has anyone ever, in the history of recorded time, been like, "I will see ANYTHING with Bradley Cooper in it"? Is there a chance Bradley Cooper is kind of a scam artist? It just feels like maybe nobody has ever actually enjoyed Bradley Cooper in something but he's suddenly an A-List actor now somehow. Oh well. Hey look, it's Tina Fey! She is great. And they just rattled off three different categories, lightning round-style:
Who in this picture did you relate to more: Sleeping Old Man or Miserable Black Lady?
Look, I'm sorry. Those voices just did NOT sound anywhere near close enough to the originals. I know the original people aren't really available these days, but still. Either scour the country for a better match or cut it out!
Speaking of cut it out, WHAT ON EARTH, Cirque Du Soleil? In what was described as an acrobatic performance meant to represent the FEEL of going to the movies, everybody's favorite troupe of nightmarish performers took to the stage in a confusing and nonsensical interpretation of the moviegoing experience.
It began with Meryl Streep looking straight-up confused, but soon we would be too.
This guy, for no real reason, slinked out of his CROP TOP shirt and then did the splits.
Then a group of dancers (including a woman dressed up to resemble the female gremlin from Gremlins 2), wearing airbrushed novelty t-shirts they'd apparently bought at Venice Beach, did some kind of weird seat dance.
Some kind of female usher attacked Jean Dujardin's wife. The camera cut away before anyone hit her off the back of the chair with a rolled-up newspaper, so it's not clear if that happened or not.
To be fair, at first I was more like George Clooney, like, "Huh, this is different." But by the end I was definitely way more like his date, all "WTF is even happening?"
Nice try, French Canada.
For the Best Documentary category, Robert Downey, Jr. brought out a camera crew and he proceeded to engage in a hilarious comedy bit with noted comedienne Gwyneth Paltrow. She seemed as annoyed as WE were!
Also during this part where Gwyneth Paltrow was getting all intense, I learned more about basic human anatomy than I did at the BodyWorlds exhibition.
Anyway, these bros won Best Documentary:
Congratulations, fellas! The rest of the Lambda Chi house is gonna be so proud of you.
Chris Rock came out and did a genuinely hilarious bit about how easy actors have it when they do voiceovers in animated films, complete with a cutting remark about how black actors are only allowed to play donkeys and such. Hey remember when Chris Rock hosted the Oscars a few years back? That wasn't terrible, right? I'm sure everyone gave him a hard time about how it was somehow not a right fit for the Oscars, but I bet everyone regrets that now, huh? Wouldn't the show have been so much better if he'd hosted? Heck, they should've just let Conan do it. Or Wendy Williams. Anybody. I don't know.
All I know is, it was super weird seeing Cameron Diaz laugh so hard at Rock's joke regarding how easy it is to do voiceover work. Um, the Shrek movies are all you've got going, lady. Laugh it up.
The winner for best Animated Film was Rango, which, fine. Congrats to the director of Mouse Hunt as well as a handful of incomprehensible pirate films, Gore Verbinski!
And congrats to us for the existence of Melissa McCarthy!
Seriously, one of the past year's best innovations has been her sudden ascent to comedy luminary. She is the best.
I also really enjoyed this bit where Emma Stone attempted to milk her experience of presenting at the Oscars. Not only was she basically perfect, but she even got to make fun of all Ben Stiller's ultra-dumb, attention-grabbing antics of awards seasons past. Well-played, Emma Stone.
This guy won for something, who knows what.
Oh, hi, Melissa Leo! I can't believe I'd forgotten this, but her Oscar triumph for The Fighter happened just last year! So now she came back to present Best Supporting Actor. She is a real firecracker, that Melissa Leo.
YES! Christopher Plummer won for Beginners! That was my favorite movie of last year and Christopher Plummer was VERY good in it. And wouldn't you know it, his acceptance speech was the best of the night. It was funny and heartfelt, and basically perfect. Hooray! Good things happen!
Billy Crystal did a bit where he'd use his "psychic abilities" to predict what celebrities were thinking. I will admit I chuckled when Nick Nolte's internal monologue was just a growling noise. Credit where credit's due, Billy Crystal made me laugh here.
I don't know what this guy wanted. I think he was the President of something? Get out of here, Dr. Boring.
Oh, hold up. More awards.
Also when they kept accidentally dropping cymbals on the stage. And also when Zach Galifianakis mispronounced his own name. Man, these guys!
Yay! Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords won for his contributions to The Muppets soundtrack! See, as much as I complain about this show, tons of deserving people got awards. It felt like, at this point, the show was on a bit of a roll even.
And then the popcorn girls came out. Was this supposed to be another nostalgia-driven thing where we lamented the loss of moviegoing? Or just a dumb sexist thing that belongs in a trashy casino somewhere? I'm not even sure!
This was hilarious: Angelina Jolie came out and struck a silly pose. See, and a lot of people say that she has no sense of humor, but I felt like she knew she was being ridiculous and was really getting off on it. Fair enough! The thing is, why is everybody talking about the pose and not the fact that she appears to be near death? Just look at that inner elbow and tell me she's not in some kind of trouble. Danger, girl!
The Descendants won Best Adapted Screenplay, and that's good news because (1) that is a terrific movie, and (2) it was written by a couple of former Groundlings, including Dean Pelton himself, Jim Rash! He even went so far as to mimic Angelina Jolie's stance. I'm not sure he properly captured her chillingly skeletal countenance, but I DO get the impression that she is probably just as bald due to malnutrition.
Anyway, then Woody Allen won for best Original Screenplay, but he wasn't there, so Angelina Jolie skittered away with his trophy and disappeared into the rafters where she will presumably incorporate it into her cocoon?
Then my favorite actress Milla Jovovich came out and briefly recounted her harrowing experience as the sacrificial babe at the Academy tech awards banquet. She survived, and she looked good, but I'm worried, you guys. Something's wrong. Just let me know if she starts exhibiting worrisome survival instincts or unexpected ESP abilities.
I guess it's nice that Bridesmaids was recognized on Oscar night, except when you think about it, isn't it really depressing that Bridesmaids was recognized on Oscar night? Is that how bad the current state of lady comedy is? Yes, I guess it is that bad. But still, it's a merely okay movie that we now have to bend over backwards to honor. Plus it was about WEDDINGS which is definitely a comedy ghetto territory for female movies. And now the cast has to come out and make penis jokes like they are dudes? Is that empowerment? I don't know. The existence of Bridesmaids is definitely a start. Hopefully we'll get to a point where women starring in a gross-out comedy won't automatically be considered Oscar material in the future.
I was lucky enough to see a showcase of this year's short films, and when I saw eventual winner The Shore, I KNEW it would be the one to win. That's because it was THE WORST. Seriously, seriously terrible. Just sub-sitcom writing with totally level-1 storytelling and deeply unfunny, painfully overlong comic relief scenes. Congratulations, The Shore!
Did you know there was a Martin Scorsese-related drinking game going on? I didn't, and apparently neither did Martin Scorsese, who seemed completely baffled when Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne suddenly pounded vodka during their presentation.
These people won for a documentary about plastic surgeons who help fix war-related disfigurements in Pakistan. The white-bread quarterback lookin' dude made a point to first hog the spotlight, then insist that "the actual Pakistani" on stage speak next. It was very touching and not at all weird in a racial way!
These guys won for their animated short, which I'd also seen and which I'd also predicted would win on the strength of its mediocrity. Seriously, it looks nice, but there's not a genuine or original thought in the whole thing. How it beat out the incredible Pixar short is beyond me.
Hey, Michael Douglas! Nice to see you? Remember when he almost died recently? I'm so glad he didn't! He is truly a national treasure. His jokes are slightly more intense than necessary, so hopefully he'll work on that.
SPOILER ALERT: The director of The Artist won Best Director. Anyone with half a brain knows that this meant The Artist was a virtual lock for Best Picture, so it was a bummer that they revealed this category so early. Oh well.
Then Meryl Streep came out and told us all about the time that honorary Oscars were given to folks in need:
Congrats guys. You earned it.
Uh-oh. Get prepared to be bummed, because here came the In Memoriam segment. Last year's Best New Artist Grammy winner Esmerelda Spalding ('member, the one who proceeded to be terrorized by angry Bieber fans?) sang a live version of "It's a Wonderful World" as some stark images faded in and out. Here were some of the biggies:
Liz Taylor got the final slot, which as we all know is a dream come true for a dead celebrity. Congrats, girl.
Whoops, more movie talkin'!
Okay, second time Billy Crystal made me laugh: After that montage in which everyone was so over-the-top about how devoted they are to their respective movies, Billy Crystal just went, "I've never felt that way." It was pretty funny! You probably had to be there. (Where WERE you, anyway?)
Natalie Portman and her crazy-short arms and tiny body came out presented the award for Best Actor.
Obviously it was Jean Dujardin from The Artist. And get a load of that KISS his director planted on him. That's just how they roll in France, you guys!
Yeah, he was pretty good in The Artist. I'll give him that. The thing is, The Artist was not the best movie. It was fine. Likeable. Kind of just an extended FunnyorDie video, if you ask me. (Don't ask me.) It's definitely the King's Speech of 2011. Nothing really wrong with it, just more crowd-pleasing than clever.
At some point A.R. Rahman joined Pharrell Williams and Sheila E.'s band and he was REALLY feelin' it. Like, you could NOT stop A.R. Rahman from moaning into that microphone if you TRIED.
Then Mr. Darcy came out and introduced the nominees for Best Actress. Like the Best Actor category, the presenter had weird little personal speeches for each nominee.
Obviously Rooney Mara looked great, if starving, in her gown, but get a load of the crying lady in the row behind her! WHAT was she crying about? Colin Firth was just listing nominees at this point! Pull it together, lady.
Oh, but guess what? Meryl Streep won! It was kind of a shocker since I think people just assumed Viola Davis would get it. I liked the consolation face-scoop that Meryl Streep did to Viola Davis as she walked onstage. That's just classy.
Meryl Streep kind of overdid it with the "Aw shucks, you guys" speech, but she's still so good that who can be mad at her? Fine, have an award, or all of them.
I don't want to name names, but SOMEBODY was looking pretty good last night. Good haircut, nice tan, well-rested, slightly less crazy in the eyes. It was almost like he wanted back into our good graces? Oh all right, Tom Cruise, but you are ON PROBATION, guy. Don't mess this up.
Best Picture went to The Artist, easily one of the top 15 movies of the year, but certainly not #1. It is more than a little outrageous that it (or anything) could beat out Tree of Life, but I am definitely past the point of caring who gets an Oscar. It turns out those little statutes don't always go to the best movies? They simply go to the movies for which the most Academy members voted. It's not a guarantee of quality. The Artist is a likeable, fun movie. It's not amazing, particularly if you've actually SEEN a Billy Wilder film. It's a good mimic of those movies, it's not actually anything new. On the other hand, it's hard not to applaud any movie that results in Penelope Ann Miller and Missi Pyle taking the stage on Oscar night. I'm cool with it. Congrats, everyone!
Not so fast, Billy Crystal.
There you have it! A technically proficient, reasonably entertaining show! Billy Crystal was a blunder, but a lot of deserving people won awards and I personally liked a lot of the production decisions. I don't know. It was the Oscars, you know? Just a fitting tribute to our dearly departed movies. Bye forever, movies!
... Who is the best Oscar host of all time?
... Did The Artist deserve all those awards?
... How many Cirque Du Soleil-related nightmares will you be having?
... What's your current frontrunner for 2013's Best Picture: Journey 2, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance or This Means War?