I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t going to do it. I sat down at 8:30 pm to record the Oscars with no intention of sitting there for three and a half hours. But, the lure, the beauty, the theater, the very American pageantry of winners and losers and all the drama wrapped up therein… oh yes indeed, I did it again. As always, it is a feast for presentation commentary, delight, critique and puzzlement.
There has to be a better way Do you sit through all the credits that roll at the end of a movie? Maybe, if I am really interested, but typically I am still in the cocoon of the film and the dark theater when the hundreds of names roll before my eyes. I recognize the staggering feat of people and talents required to make a film. But the names are listed at the end for a reason. Nobody remembers them or honestly cares that much.
So why 90% of award winners feel the need to rush through a litany of names that as far as the audience is concerned might as well be from a phonebook is completely baffling. It doesn’t work! It’s boring! When Ang Lee thanked his agent and his lawyer and then laughed and said he “had “ to say them, it exemplified the absurdity and the extent to which this madness has overtaken the field. Stop it. Keep your next acceptance speech short, distilled and heartfelt.
Know how to use a standing microphone I have to assume that the Academy ensures that the sound system is excellent. Many awardees hunched over to speak down into the microphone. You do not have to talk into a microphone. It should be positioned so that your voice flows over or across it. When people hunch over to speak, the posture collapses, the neck extends oddly and the breath and energy gets directed downward, not out. It undermines the power of the message profoundly. Quentin Tarantino has to be over six feet tall and he stood tall and clear.
Don’t mix art and politics So much of the fun in watching the Oscars is feeling like an insider for a few hours. I suppose I am a purist, but I want the people on stage to be insiders too. So just as I was disturbed when Bill Clinton introduced the movie, Lincoln, at the Golden Globes, I really hated the whole Michelle Obama announcing the best picture award via telecast. Now, I thought she was absolutely delightful dancing with Jimmy Fallon this week, but in this context, her words felt flat, I didn’t like the lineup of staff people around her, and most importantly we lost the opportunity for more from the zany and unexpected Jack Nicholson.
Your worst fears have happened and they aren’t so bad Thank you Jennifer Lawrence for your fall. You are a star. Now we all know what to do should we find ourselves on the ground on the way to the podium. We say, “ If Jennifer Lawrence can laugh about it and move on, so can I.”
Stick to the material at hand If Oscar 2013 reflects honoring “the finest among equals” in 2012, then I really don’t understand the logic of rehashing two musical theater numbers from ten years ago, Chicago and Dreamgirls. Not only was it out of context, but the Academy Awards are always too long, why add these numbers? The Les Mis ensemble performance was fresh and powerful and current. The Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jennifer Hudson performances felt stale and disconnected. Plus, when I heard the haunting melody from the documentary Chasing Ice, I thought, “Why aren’t we listening to Scarlett Johansson & Joshua Bell?” So keep your content current and relevant. And here is that heartbreaking song by J. Ralph that I wish had been performed live, “Before My Time.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB4UEQzUmWc
Thank you actors, directors, producers, writers and the hundreds and thousands of professionals that make the art of living so beautifully examined and expressed in film.