Monday, February 25, 2008
Yawn and stretch. Stretch and yawn. The Oscar broadcast, perhaps prematurely deflated by weeks of “what if” speculation before the writer’s strike was resolved, rolled out as bland, as unexciting, as padded, as superfluously lengthy as it has ever been. Even Jon Stewart, in full smarty-pants mode, didn’t get much past an ironic stare and a few self-chuckles, despite some witty one-liners and a few neatly improvised bits; he looked like a guy in the top row at a one-sided sports event with sleet blowing down his neck. The surfeit of clips from the past (prepared in the eventuality of an actor less strike show) only further emphasized the funeral glaze of the proceedings, outside of the occasional refreshing reaction (Marion Cotillard), no one seemed truly inflated by the ritual, and the best patches of chemistry all night were undoubtedly glimpsed in the by-rote scripted exchanges between Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen or Josh Brolin and James McAvoy.
Personally, I went down for the count as an Oscar handicapper, hitting only 12 out of 24, breaking a five year streak of 20 or more, and missing a walloping two (went with darling Julie Christie for Best Actress and Chameleon Cate Blanchett for Best Supporting Actress) in the money categories. Sure, there has to be a lot divined and said about an Academy year so reflective of the societal fissures at play. A year when four out of the five Best Picture entries (Juno, in both spirit and subject matter, doesn’t get an invite to the Zietgeist party), included an old-fashioned epic about the power of lying and the fallout of warfare (Atonement), an old-school fable about corruption, morality, and lawyers (Michael Clayton) and not one, but two, hardscrabble tales about the great American void at the end of the blood drenched rainbow (No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood) were the last movies standing. But, hey, I’m way too brain dead after staying up and watching the broadcast until the bitter, fizzled finale to be the guy volunteering for that duty.