Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, February 23, 2009


2009 OSCARS Sunday February 22nd, 2009. 81st Annual Academy Awards.

Usually I find watching the boring, ad-choked Oscars about as appealing as getting root canal surgery. A friend of mine told me that tonight they were trying something completely different -- the Oscars would be presented as part of a story or film -- so we decided to give it a look see. The TV was turned on a bit early and let me tell you that 15 minutes of fawning "journalists" interviewing the "stars" as they arrived was more than enough. The Oscars began at 9PM but by 9:30 it seemed as if they'd already been on for an hour and a half. The ads, the introductions, the mostly tedious speeches as endless relatives and co-workers are thanked and thanked ...

Worse, the show was no different than it was in the past. Except for one thing: the deletion of clips. Yes, instead of showing clips from each nominated film and performance, past winners were presented on stage to tell each nominee how wonderful he or she was. It was at times maudlin and even insincere. But it also didn't make any sense. Does the Academy imagine that everyone has seen every film? Frankly, I've seen few of the nominated films and I would have loved to see clips of a few of the performances (and I've no doubt the actors feel the same way!). Didn't it occur to the Academy that some of the millions of people watching might see something they liked so much in one of the clips that they'd buy a movie theater ticket or DVD. I mean, isn't that what it's all about -- getting people into theaters? (The Oscars have less and less to do with art.)

Hugh Jackman made a pleasant and competent host, but his big "musicals are back" production number was pure kitsch. Some of the awards were duller than ditch water and should have been covered in a separate ceremony. I didn't think much of the songs that were nominated for "Best Song," although they had a good beat and instrumentation. I liked Best Actor Sean Penn's speech for the most part, and I especially liked the heart-felt speech given by Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. I thought Queen Latifah did a nice job singing "I'll Be Seeing You" as photos of recently departed Hollywood folk flashed across the screen (you could hardly see the first, Cyd Charisse, however).

The Oscars were actually over by 11:55, which I didn't think would be possible.

Verdict: **. Not enough highlights-- and no clips!

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