This year's Oscars were the worst I've ever seen. While I managed to win a princely £4 by betting on my predicted winners, the ceremony itself wasn't quite as rewarding.
A lot of the flak has been sent in the hosts' direction, and rightly so. James Franco and Anne Hathaway, great actors and engaging screen presences as they may be, simply did not connect. Franco played the stoic card while Hathaway was all smiles and energy, presumably for some sort of good cop/bad cop routine to gain a few laughs. Instead it just felt like Hathaway was trying too hard and Franco was too tranquilised to perform.
Their appearance aside, the script was lacking. You know it's bad when they introduce past host Billy Crystal for a segment and he gets a standing ovation before he's even said anything. Franco and Hathaway, after a promising opening video skit, just didn't have anything to go by. Then they'd inexplicably cut away to tributes to past film achievements like 'Gone With the Wind'. It was chaos. Dull chaos. Even the Academy Chief wasn't over the moon.
But the problem didn't lie solely with the script and the hosts. The winners (a nice spread of results) weren't really up to much either. With the exception of 20-time nominee Randy Newman's self-deprecating rant about his own musical talent and Colin Firth's heartfelt speech that combined genuine appreciation and an "urge to dance", the acceptance speeches were muted and uninspired. And when all the fanfare leading up to these moments misfires, it makes for quite a let down.
Bear in mind that for many in the film industry, the Oscar represents the pinnacle of achievement. This is the moment in the sun to be funny or daring or even controversial, instead of just reeling off a list of names. Millions of non-celebrities are watching, awaiting a connection with their stars and then they get singled out of the club. Colin Firth started off well when he picked up his Best Actor accolade for 'The King's Speech' by observing that "my career just peaked" before launching into a well written set of thank yous and pokes at himself.
As with most filmic problems, at least we can fall back on the talent of Mr Dustin Hoffman. In his first winning speech, he manages to be funny, thank a few important people and make a stirring rally call for the forgotten people on the set and his fellow nominees. He won for his great work in 'Kramer vs Kramer'. If I was around in 1980, I would've put my money on Peter Sellers for 'Being There', but that's another matter.
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