Before we all forget about last night and dive head-first into 2012, here are my takeaways from the 84th Academy Awards. First I’ll list off a few tidbits that made me smile, then I’ll bitch to my heart’s content. (If you’re curious, I’ve also reviewed 8/9 of the Best Picture nominees.)
Things I Liked
- It was quick! Fewer “educational” montages and less pre-award banter meant that this year’s ceremony was just nigh interminable instead of actually interminable.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s win for editing. Not only was it deserved, but it was a rare surprise on a night that had about two of them. I would’ve welcomed more variety like that.
- Brad Pitt gushing about The War of the Gargantuas. To think: this bedrock of my childhood was also, per Wikipedia, this demigod’s “inspiration to go into acting.” Maybe we’re not so different after all!
- In fact, all of the “my first movie” interstitials. They were candid and fun—i.e., the polar opposite of a typical Oscar segment. And they showcased folks like Gabourey Sidibe and Werner Herzog, so we all win.
- The women of Bridesmaids. Maya Rudolph cracking dick jokes! Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy playing some weird Scorsese-themed drinking game! Can we get them to group-host next year?
- Michel Hazanavicius’s last words of the night: “I want to thank Billy Wilder, and I want to thank Billy Wilder, and I want to thank Billy Wilder.” This flood of gratitude closed the show out on the highest note possible.
Things I Didn’t Like
- Billy Crystal. Maybe I’m just in the wrong demographic. I have no built-in fondness for Crystal and don’t remember his prior hosting gigs. But when his jokes weren’t corny, they were tasteless, and they were all punctuated by a self-satisfied chuckle. Not to mention the blackface. I guess his Sammy Davis, Jr. impression is an old SNL thing, but why bring it back now?
- That fucking “magic of movies” montage. Bad enough to have a montage with no point beyond “um, movies?”; even worse when the choices are so arbitrary. It had clips from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s (favoring Best Picture winners), plus Twilight and The Hangover, and stretched back no further than 1969’s Midnight Cowboy. The lesson? The Academy’s fine with saluting pre-1970 film history, but only when it’s wrapped up in a cute little pastiche.
- The Cirque du Soleil, whose performance had something to do with North by Northwest, I guess? Anyway, it ended up being a few more wasted telecast minutes.
- That goddamn theme from The Artist. I’m already not a huge fan of Ludovic Bource’s Oscar-winning score, but hearing a piece of it repeated—with its implicit message of “Silent movies are kooky!”—every time an Artist team member won became grating. I get it already! They were kooky!
- Meryl over Viola. I love Meryl. Love her in Death Becomes Her, Adaptation., “Bart’s Girlfriend,” etc. But she’s a one-woman awards dynasty. She isn’t “due” (she already won Best Actress in 1982, for chrissake) and she doesn’t need the career bump. Viola Davis, meanwhile, is a 46-year-old black woman who’s received only a handful of substantial screen parts in her lifetime. Winning would’ve made her the second woman of color to receive the award ever. So basically, fuck the Oscar electorate. Fuck them so hard.