It is amazing how the entertainment capital of the world can make such a bad Oscar telecast. Hugh Jackman was okay and brought a certain kind of old fashion charm to the show, but the rest of it was terrible. The worst part about any Oscar show is when talented (and not so talented) actors are asked to read banal introductions to awards. They are almost universally insipid, saccharine and cringe-worthy. Well this year they seemingly decided to increase those hideously little intros ten-fold. Instead of showing us clips of the nominees' performances they had five previous winners in each category recite some treacle that is worthy of a eulogy and seemed downright creepy with the still live honoree on camera having to listen to these lengthy monologues. Just bloody awful.
And anytime they showed any kind of montage, they seemed unwilling to actually show us a full screen version. When they did their little tribute to film scores they showed more of the stage orchestra than they did of the films they accompanied. In some cases it was hard to even tell what movie they were referring to. At one point John commented on how it seemed as if the director and producers hate the movies. What else would explain there unwillingness to let the work speak for itself.
Overall, I think the awards went to the right folks. Although I liked Slumdogs a lot, I think The Reader may have been a better pick for Best Picture. However, I am pleased as punch that Kate Winslet won for the same movie. She gave a great performance and she has gone too long, and given too many other great performances to not have won one.
In terms of Best Picture, I liked The Reader much more than I thought I would and I disagree with those who think that the movie did too much to exonerate Winslet's characters. I don't think the film let anyone off the hook. Not Hanna, not the German people, not Ralph Fiennes character, no one comes out smelling like roses. It did an effective job portraying a situation that can have no happy ending or even meaningful resolution.
I thought Slumdog Millionaire probably placed second. I sobbed like a baby at the end. Not because the hero gets his true love, but because of the intense depictions of conditions in the slums of India. To think that people live in such dire circumstance all around the world and even to a certain degree in the U.S. is truly overwhelming.
Milk and Frost/Nixon were both excellent movies and were well executed, but as bio-pics I have a hard time thinking they are Oscar-worthy as films. Sean Penn definitely deserved his Best Actor win for the role of Harvey Milk and Frank Langella certainly deserved one for his portrayal as Nixon.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Eh. I enjoyed much more than I thought I would, but then again I was dreading having to go see it. The more I think about it the less I like the film. It had some redeeming qualities but overall it was a little too Forest Gumpy for my tastes.
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