Didn't watch last night's Oscars. Even though some of the awards seemed to be well deserved, and I was interested in how Up would do, it has just gotten too predictable, too long, and too "un-entertaining" in the last few years. This year's change in reverting to expanding the "Best Picture" category to 10 really didn't seem to do much other than to provide a way for people to think something they've actually seen would win and motivate them to watch. Somehow, I think all along voters and Academy members still had a dividing line in the minds as to what the "real nominees" were.
It's almost an exercise in folly to try and read the tea leaves in the weeks leading up to the broadcast, because it seems as if so many are arguing over who "deserves" the award and who the think will get it. The Oscars have always been about peer recognition, and I really don't have a problem with that- it never claimed to be anything else, and anyone who thinks differently is only fooling themselves. Yes, some years it is quite overbearing and overlong, and some years it is overtly and offensively political. But, after all, it is Hollywood voting on what it likes about itself most. I would argue that, in my opinion, in decades past the nominated films were more often than not, of a higher caliber and when members voted- they often voted for some truly outstanding work. Sometimes there was an "upset" or an off year. I believe, more often than not, there was some really excellent work being recognized.
Recent ceremonies seem to be more about the fashion, the infighting and the politics. In fact, millions of dollars go into what the attendees wear, and even more money goes into producing shows and magazines about the attendees and what they are wearing. So, I turn them off. That's right, rather than continue to complain, etc, I have copped to what I don't like, don't worry about it, and turn the channel and have a more relaxing evening. I just realized that a majority of the time- I just don't care and it really doesn't make a huge difference in the overall scheme of things. So why make myself endure something that I don't enjoy watching, just because I am a movie fan? No one is going to take away my "Movie Fan" membership card or anything- so I just skip it and the next check out the parts I am most concerned about.
And there are really only two things I care to watch or know. I am interested in the bottom line: just tell me who won what and be done with it- a list will do just fine thanks. Secondly, I usually like the now famous (or infamous, if you prefer) Oscar "montages". Sometimes they are of the great "100 years at the movies" variety and of course the montage that honors those entertainers who passed away in the last year or so. Most of the times these are fairly dignified affairs, but, if you saw it last night or have been hearing about it on the news, last night's montage was missing several famous people. Not only that, but it was just shoddy, in my opinion. In years past they've done a dignified and elegant sequence. Last night was anything but- a rushed, hodge podge of images that were set to a live musical performance by James Taylor. I like James Taylor- nothing against him or the song- but it just didn't work. For some reason, it didn't mesh. I enjoyed it more with the underling music that allowed more focus on the images, and a more paced sequence itself. These honorees, these performers deserved a little more consideration. A more professionally produced montage.
And this isn't just the Oscars for some reason this year- even TCM's annual "TCM Remembers" didn't really seem to be as good as years past. I think the music detracted too much from the images and the recognition of the stars. What's the disconnect? For me, in both cases, the music didn't work. We lost some famous composers- wouldn't have been a good way to honor one of them to use one of their scores as the soundtrack? It would have been much more effective and poignant, I think, to use something of Maurice Jarre's than the pop-folk guitar songs that both the Academy and TCM went with. I realize that, in the case of TCM, sad songs are often used, but some years the music overpowers the images themselves. It is a delicate balance, I suppose.
I appreciate the fact that the Academy produces these montages, but this years sequence just wasn't up to past production values and missed several notable performers. You can probably see who is missing, even if you haven't seen the news. But in the end, I guess, this is just another movie fan disappointed. In a past year that saw the passing of the likes of Kathryn Grayson, Jennifer Jones and Jody McCrea (Note: I inadvertantly said Joel originally until Tom at Motion Picture Gems reminded me that Joel passed away 20 years ago- it was Joel's son Jody that died last year. I saw Jody mentioned in the TCM clip and he looked so much like his dad, that I didn't even think twice about it. That's what getting long in the tooth as a blogger does to you.) - not to mention more "recent" stars and directors like Natasha Richardson, Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett and John Hughes- I would think the bar needed to be set higher. Here is the montage sequence- judge for yourself.
And here is the TCM Remembers 2009 edition:
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the aptly named "comments" section.
I've told you a hundred times. I don't want to win awards. Give me pictures that end with a kiss and black ink on the books.