Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscars: Lowlights and Highlights

This is going to be the ultimate stream of consciousness jumping from thought to thought.  Before the actual Oscars began on ABC, it was the red carpet special.  Honestly, they should just give it up. Tyson Beckford was a big minus and had no business there.  Just let E do the red carpet shows if you can't do it, okay networks?  

Okay, onto the opening of the 86th Oscars.  Ellen DeGeneres set the tone of the night of fun, humor, and party.  I thought she knocked it out of the ball park. Her joke about bringing Jennifer Lawrence the Oscar so she doesn't trip again was funny and priceless was her Jonah Hill joke, subtle and funny. Of course, if you didn't see The Wolf of Wall Street, you had no idea what Ellen was talking about.  First Oscar of the night went to Jared Leto for his exquisite portrayal of Rayan in Dallas Buyers Club.  His speech was deeply moving and from the heart.  The first song performance was Pharrell Williams singing Happy from Despicable Me 2, which also helped set the party tone.  He came into the audience and interacted/danced with Lupita Nyung'o, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence waved him off.  Was it planned?  Maybe, but who cares? It was fun.

Harrison Ford presented and spoke monotone and emotionless. If he didn't want to be there, then just say no.  His earring looks dumb as can be.  Not a look he should be sporting.  He is getting old and needs to age more gracefully.   Kim Novak, who hasn't been seen in years, presented and looked scary.  Way too much plastic surgery.  Her mouth was really off and she seemed as if she had suffered a stroke.  It was really uncomfortable. Goldie Hawn, sigh.  Another person who has suffered at the hands of a Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon. I have loved Darlene Love for over 25 years.  When I saw Twenty Feet From Stardom, I was deeply moved and loved her in it.  When it won best documentary, I was thrilled, but when Darlene took the mike and sang, I thought it was awkward, though the people in the theatre seemed to love it.  

Let me address the live performances.  I must be clear, I don't get U2.  I never have.  I still don't.  I appreciate that I am in the minority, but....A standing ovation?? Maybe it was for all their fantastic humanitarian endeavors.  Pink. Okay, Pink singing and honoring The Wizard of Oz was a very interesting choice.  She looked amazing.  She sounded good, except for one glaring thing for me...she took breaths in the middle of words!!! Some-breath-where o-breath-ver the rainbow.  I hate that so much.  She is supposed to be in phenomenal shape fromall her aerial stunts while "singing?"  Maybe that's the act.  Maybe she's not really singing live.  I hate bad phrasing and truly can't get over it.  Sorry to all you Pink fans.   Up next,  Adele Nazeem.  Poor Idina Menzel.  Your biggest audience ever and John Travolta butchers your name.  Couldn't even sound it out, but let's get to your performance.  Idina, I always love hearing you sing, but somehow every time you sing out of the comfort of costume and stage, you are shrieking and don't hit all the right notes.  Maybe you were thrown by being called the totally wrong name, but it wasn't pleasant.  You have done it on the Tonys, too.  So great and yet so bad.  

Saving the best for last.  Bette Midler was announced to be singing a few weeks ago and my heart skipped a beat.  I have loved her undeniably since I was 12, which is over 40 years.  Hard to believe, but true.  They wouldn't reveal what song.  There were so many to choose from.  So, when the intro began and it was Wind Beneath My Wings (which occurred after the In Memoriam section), I was a little disappointed.  Bette has a vast repertoire, but okay, it was used in a movie....She came out looking fabulous and she sounded even better.  She is a pro.  She knows how to phrase, to emote, to connect.  It was a huge highlight!!!

Ellen Degeneres spent much of the show in the audience. I think it was a great move because I have never seen the stars so relaxed and willing to play.  When Ellen had 3 pizzas delivered to the nominees, Brad Pitt was passing out plates and napkins.  When she got a group of stars led by Meryl Streep to take a "selfie" to try to break all Twitter records, everyone tried to jump in the photo: Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Jared Leto, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyung'o, Kevin Spacey and more.  Guess what?  It worked.  It was the most re-tweeted photo ever and crashed the site.  If you see the photo from behind, you see Liza Minnelli trying to get in but she is just too teeny. Speaking of Liza, I was disappointed that the Academy or the producers got Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft together in public and they didn't get to speak.  They just got to stand from their seats to honor their mother, Judy Garland.  

Great speeches of the night?  Hands down Jared Leto and Lupita Nyung'o!  Grateful, heartfelt, and moving.  Lupita's final line will be often quoted, "No matter where you're from your dreams are still valid." Gravity won every technical award including Best Director.  Somewhere around 20 years ago, the voters figured that the Best Director and Best Picture could split.  It's a little odd, but the more honors to different films, the better for the industry.  Spread the wealth.  12 Years a Slave won Best Picture.  Well deserved.  The producer/director for the best documentary, The Lady in Number 6, spoke beautifully about Alice Sommer who just passed away a week ago.  She was the oldest living Holocaust Survivor and died at the age of 110.  You could tell that her sharing her story impacted all their lives.  

All in all, it was a good show.  No upsets, no surprises.  Craig Meron and Neil Zadan, producers, were lucky to have Ellen DeGeneres back as the host.  So were we.  It could have been deadly in someone else's hands.

Sidebars: Can anybody tell me why John Stamos was there?  How dignified and graceful was the great Sidney Poitier.  That was a beautiful moment.  He is 87.  Coupling him with Angelina Jolie was perfect.  She gets how important he is to both acting and humanitarian efforts. John Travolta needs to go to rehearsal.  How completely embarrassing how he destroyed Idina Menzel's name.  Totally on him.  More people are talking about her today than they ever would have.  I thought that the fashion was gorgeous.  My favorite was Charlize Theron.  She looked magnificent.  So many did.  No real clunkers in all of those dresses, just some more beautiful.  Hear, hear to Cate Blanchett calling out Hollywood and stating that women aren't a niche audience.  It was a great year for women in film.  Can we keep the trend going and can Hollywood reflect society more?  It's Monday.  Enjoy your week.  Still too much cold all around the country.  Come on, Spring, we are waiting impatiently. 

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