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    by  • January 4, 2012 • News • 0 Comments

    “Oscar! Oscar!”

    by M.C. Parker

    84th Annual Academy Awards one incredibly long commercial for the Hollywood film industry

    Watching the red carpet hype of the 84th annual Academy Awards on my rabbit-eared low-definition TV, and the actors being asked “who” they were wearing, my literal mind saw designers being piggybacked to the awards – a bit of a challenge for those in heels.

    I have to hand it to Hollywood for seizing any and all opportunities to promote their industry via fashion designers, jewelry retailers, and, as Marilyn Manson phrased it, “the beautiful people.” Other industries could take a page from their book of shameless self-promotion – the entire awards ceremony was one incredibly long commercial for Hollywood movies, reminding all those downloaders to get back in the theatre.

    Billy Crystal hosting 84th Academy Awards. Photo credit: Michael Yada / A.M.P.A.S.

    I remember once being caught up in the glitz and the glamour, but having written hundreds of celebrity, movie, and music “stories,” I see how much entertainment is churned out like the next big thing, and that the hype is usually overdone. Of course, there will always be quality music and film, however, when everything is promoted with the same fervour and fanfare, most movie reviews are suspect these days. I miss Jay Scott and Pauline Kael.

    Kiwi Bret McKenzie won an Oscar for his Muppet song. I loved him and his music in Flight of the Conchords. I think he also gave the best acceptance speech, joking about how Kermit was just like a real frog once you got to know him.

    Compare Bret McKenzie and Christopher Plummer’s witty acceptance speeches to Octavia Spencer’s meltdown and you just want to say to her, “Don’t take it so seriously.” Sure the win is supposed to do wonders for your career, but you also have an opportunity to showcase yourself in front of billions of people – does it really have to be disbelief, tears, and “aw shucks” – because it’s not like you didn’t know you were nominated, and it’s not like you’re not a trained performer.

    The absolute strangest thing about the evening was that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was in the running (please comment so I know I’m not the only one who felt this way). Hollywood remade a Swedish original almost shot for shot while managing to turn the hugely popular strong female protagonist Lisbeth Salander into a lame supporting role for a dandified Daniel Craig – and then it wins an Oscar for editing of all things. An editing award for a remake, does anyone else not see the irony of this? Even the guys accepting the award were embarrassed.

    Billy Crystal did his charming vaudevillian Mr. Saturday Night shtick with “Oscar! Oscar!” He sneaked in a few nasty curveballs à la Gervais, singing about Jonah Hill’s girth and joking about the canine Uggie’s private parts (are they private if they’re canine)? His unashamed pandering to the younger “demographic” by placing teen pop star Justin Bieber in his opening medley only served to make Crystal seem older and oilier than usual.

    The Bridesmaids cast scored some laughs with their Martin Scorsese drinking game, leading one to think, “That Marty! How does he do it? Just about everything he touches turns into cinematic gold.”

    Thank goodness, George Clooney didn’t win the best actor Oscar. I mean, set him next to Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, or Viggo Mortensen and his good looks are as two-dimensional as his acting abilities. The guy is paid to look good, like a Cary Grant-lite, end of story. He’s like the Marilyn Monroe of men, always wanting to be taken “seriously.”

    If he weren’t so darned earnest about it, a lot more people would go see his movies. Well, bless him for his good intentions. There must be some algorithm that could amp his movie projects to be slightly more entertaining and less hit ’em over the head political soapboxing. It’s a fine line, for sure.

    I admit it. I like Meryl Streep. So sue me, Kramer. My favourite part of the awards is finding out about good foreign films and documentaries (I was rooting for Canada’s Oscar-nominated foreign language film Monsieur Lazhar which I thoroughly enjoyed), and who might be an up-and-comer with an award-winning short film. There’s a story: Where are they now, those short-film Oscar winners?

    When I turned off the TV, I swear I could almost hear the unified sigh of relief from all the actors and the rest of the Hollywood entertainment machinery as they geared down from another Oscar gala. Time to start planning number 85.


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