Monday, March 24, 2003

Oscar® Yawn

Maybe it was just me... I was tired, after all, and a little distracted... but that was the most boring Oscars® show I've ever seen.

Perhaps if I'd seen more of the nominated movies, I might have become more involved; perhaps if there weren't a war going on there would have been less sententiousness in the speeches; perhaps if I'd not lost track of time and missed the first hour of the show, I would have caught the better parts; perhaps if I'd had people over to watch with me, it would have been more fun. But I hadn't, there is, I did, and I didn't.

At any rate, I missed the Red Carpet Parade, which is the most important part of the show, so I've had to go hunting about online for pictures. Here's the best and most complete set (click on the Red Carpet Gallery for a slide-show pop-up).

So I was rooting for Chicago in pretty much every category simply because I have seen it and loved it. I thought, though, they must be stretching to nominate acting performances from this... it was a musical, not a drama, and one doesn't really think of singing and dancing, no matter how well-done, as Oscar®-worthy acting. I also rooted for Far From Heaven when it came up, because I saw and loved that one, too. I did not root for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers because it was up for technical awards which I don't understand or much appreciate, so I didn't care; besides, I didn't enjoy it very much... exciting and interesting, of course, and the Gollum thing was totally cool, but it was too violent and unhappy. The only other movie I saw that was nominated was Y Tu Mamá También, which I rather enjoyed, but I couldn't tell whether or not it was well-written as a screenplay because I didn't understand it.

As far as who won and who didn't win, I find these things are no longer relevant. When Julia Roberts walked off with an Oscar® in 2001 for her not-very-challenging portrayal of Erin Brockovitch, when she was up against Ellen Burstyn acting circles around her in Requiem for a Dream, I finally understood that it's not about acting anymore... it's about roles. Julia's push-up-bra paralegal was simply a more loveable character, with her wisecracks and caring gestures (which were courtesy of the writers, not the actress), than Ellen's pill-addicted granny, who was difficult to look at but utterly compelling, wiping up the thespian floor with Julia even in the few clips I did see (I never saw the movie itself).

On a side-note, why did so many people bring their children as escorts? It was kind of cute, but so many of them did it that I wondered if it meant something. Most peculiar.

Another side-note: why do people think that it's okay to come to the Oscars® completely unprepared to accept an Oscar®? These people are, for the most part, actors... you'd think they could rehearse a reaction and memorize a few lines. And a director or producer should know enough to have a professional actor stand in and accept for one instead of getting onstage and making an ass of onesself. I suppose that they spend so much of their time being prepared and creating artifice that they think a spontaneous reaction will be better than a rehearsed speech. But as professionals, couldn't they prepare a spontaneous reaction? No matter what, there's a 20% chance that you're going to have to give a short speech; why not prepare something for the eventuality?

Think about it, people. You're artists. Create art. Waving your hands in front of your face and turning in circles and hyperventilating is not art.

The gowns, which are the main reason I watch the Oscars®, were too too dull. Perhaps the situation in Iraq inspired a more somber approach; or perhaps Joan Rivers' jibes are starting to make the ladies nervous, and they're all trying terribly hard to not draw too much attention to themselves.

Of all the gowns I saw, I think I liked Diane Lane's best. But I don't know who she is, so it doesn't matter so much. I also loved Cloris Leachman's festival of chinoiserie, though is struck me as inappropriately loud for sitting quietly on the stage with a bunch of antiques. I also loved Renée Zellweger's lovely red Carolina Herrera, though she didn't wear it very well, and I do wish she'd powder down those cheeks of hers and stop squinting (Grandmother thinks that Renée should wear glasses).

Halle Berry's gown was divoon, but a mere patch on the gowns she's worn in the past (perhaps after that jaw-dropping number she wore to accept the Oscar® for Monster's Ball last year, she felt that anything else would be anticlimactic, so why bother?). Susan Sarandon's gown made me drool, all that black jersey trailing around all over the place, but it was certainly subdued and lacked her famous cleavage (I'm not much of a tit-man myself, but Susan Sarandon without cleavage is like a monument without pigeons: it just isn't right). I liked Meryl Streep's gown, but I was forced to wonder what it would look like if that sleeve-wrap thing had been finished and sewn on properly.

One also must bow with awe (or, in modern parlance, give mad props) to The Big Gals, Queen Latifah and Kathy Bates and Catherine Zeta-Jones (though her large largesse is merely gestatory and therefore temporary) for the feats of couture engineering that erected their massive bosoms so proudly. I really regret missing Latifah and Catherine performing "I Move On"... all that bust moving around might turn a boy straight. Hopefully somebody taped it. And I really really loved Queen Latifah's gown. It's so nice to see her all girled up in a dress.

But in general, there weren't any bad gowns, which are always more fun than the fabulous gowns. A fabulous get-up will inspire awe and admiration, but a fashion disaster gives you something to talk about for weeks. But even Sally Kirkland, who can always be counted on to do something unspeakably tacky, showed up in a boring pink nothing that looked like she'd stolen it from Debbie Reynolds' closet.

I was terribly disappointed in Julianne Moore with those sloppy limp ruffles up her ass. That gown was a mess, but not enough of a mess to cackle over. It was simply disappointing. Her hair wasn't quite right, either. Sigh.

And I would have thought Nicole Kidman of all people would know better than to wear a dress with unsecured shoulder-straps; it must have been a last-minute replacement of a more festive gown. Someone as studied as she is could be assumed to try things on and walk around in them before wearing them in front of the entire world. But then, I would also think she'd be able to control her forehead better in moments of emotional exaltation — it looked like there were two small lizards under her skin trying to escape.

And I wish Barbra Streisand would drop this kittenish attitude she's been sporting lately — when she came out to present Best Original Song, taking baby-steps and holding up her train in that little-girl manner, I wanted to strike her.

Then there were the men: when did neckties become acceptable for black-tie? I didn't get that memo. I don't really like it, either. I thought Adrien Brody looked like a mortician. A totally hot mortician, but still. And silly old Sean Connery didn't get the memo, either. Or maybe he lost a bet. He seems to be stuck back in 2000 when frock coats and band-collars were all the vogue and many of the men looked like dress-extras from Gone With the Wind. But otherwise, the gentlemen seem to have accepted the fact that black-tie is boring, but not wearing black-tie makes you look a fool.

Then there was the music. I can't believe Eminem won an Oscar®. Now he's going to be totally insufferable, with the support of the film community as well as the slavish devotion of the music industry to his hateful antics. I do think he's a good musician, and I'm sure his song was very nice, but there is a fine line between artistic radicalism and disguising hatred as an artistic vision... but on the other hand, the other Original Songs were insipid as hell. I mean, "I Move On," though a fun and lovely tune, was a low-point of Chicago, and it only played in the credits; that messy whatnot from Frida was just awful, though one wonders if it would have sounded better with different singers; that bullshit socio-political screechfest of U2s was entirely unpleasant and completely unnecessary (I actually had to change channels when Bono started ululating, with veins standing out on his forehead but unfortunately not bursting); and really, The Wild Thornberrys? Are they serious?

Finally, the show production simply sucked. Steve Martin was so savorless it was embarrassing to watch him, and he was wearing too much powder and not enough rouge. The band was horrible, and their choices of songs to use for introducing people were questionable at best. The arrangement for "All That Jazz" they played every time Chicago won something sounded like a high-school marching-band (and not from an affluent high-school, either). The set was boring, the podia were hideous, and the silent Oscar®-toting robot-women were so stumpy and badly-dressed that one wonders if they were hired from a model agency or just culled from the Price-Waterhouse steno pool.

I also have to question the practice of dragging out every extant acting-Oscar®-winner to sit on the stage. Poor Louise Rainer should be let to moulder away with dignity in private. Watching Olivia deHaviland, one of the most beautiful actresses of all time and definitely the most elegant octogenarian I can think of, stumbling across the stage in exactly the same way my grandmother rushes for the bathroom when we've been out shopping all day, was most disturbing.

On the other hand, I thought Peter O'Toole did the best job of accepting an honorary Oscar® that I've ever seen. Though far into his doddering dotage, he carried himself well and stuck to his script and his time-allotment. I was terribly impressed.

Well, at any rate, it's all over with for another year. Honestly, the older I get, the less enthused I am by the High Holy Days of the Gay Calendar. I'm so tired of Halloween I could cry, and I'm about to lose interest in the Oscars®. Next thing you know, I'll be sitting home during Pride and skipping Fashion Week.

Still, you gotta love the gold man.

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