TSR Blog: Nick Allen Recaps Oscar Night, Plus & Minus

2011 is done. Finito. Turn the lights out in the morgue, because that sucker is history. So how did the year’s send-off (Oscar night) fare? Was it another enchanting night of contagious movie loving, big laughs, and big surprises?

No, not really. Though this year didn’t lend itself to too many predictable winners, (at least it wasn’t as obvious as previous years), the Oscars of 2011 did not match the uniqueness (and general high quality) of this year’s films. Instead, it was old hat material, but delivered with an even lazier hand. It’s as if the Oscars didn’t know what to do after former producer Brett Ratner resigned back in late fall, and they just figured out on Saturday night how to pull it off so that it looked “old fashioned.” They threw in a Cirque du Soleil set piece, had some movie stars talk about movies, and skipped over all of the “Best Picture” nominee montages we usually expect to be scattered throughout the ceremony. Even “Best Original Song” didn’t get a chance to shine with individual performances.

Though 2011 was a year of looking back, especially on how movies have brought us to the state of filmmaking today, the Oscars did not match the same genuine enthusiasm. With a very bland Billy Crystal as host, instead it just gave us the same ‘ol, same ‘ol.

With a lot more MINUS moments than PLUS moments, this year’s ceremony brought up the question that has irked me since last year’s bonanza – was it really that bad of a choice to pick Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts? However bonkers that night must have been, at least it was … you know, eventful.

And for the record, while enjoying the Oscars I did take part in FilmDrunk’s “2012 Oscars Drinking Game.” Needless to say, the moment in which Octavia Spencer got a standing ovation [insert drunk reference here]. Who has Bruce Vilanch’s cell phone number?

Here are the winning and losing moments of this year’s Oscars, for better and for worse, and most importantly, for no point at all.

The opening video is kind of giggly, but lacks anything surprising in the category of award show intros. If anything, it was a surprise to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol even referenced by this ceremony. The opening video is full of spoilers as well. Especially with the weird imagery of Billy Crystal flying through “the movies,” or whatever the hell that was, it’s not a promising start.
MINUS One special night that could have been hosted by Eddie Murphy

Billy Crystal opens his Oscar monologue with a reference to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the type of joke everyone has made at least once in the past two months. This is not a good sign, at all. His opening number comes off as expected, and overall not very funny. Especially when thinking back to the inventiveness of Hugh Jackman’s song back in 2008, this really pales in comparison. Crystal then caps off his monologue with a joke making fun of “millionaires giving other millionaires money,” and it just reminds us of the sad day Ricky Gervais had to play host to the “cool dad” ceremony of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
MINUS The optimism that this could remotely be a good show

Tom Hanks is put on the spot to deliver a dumb, dumb, dumb bit about a “seat filler,” a sandpaper dry gimmick that no one cares about before, during, or after. Also, Tom Hanks has a goatee, which is sillier than this entire moment.
PLUS One more dumb gag for the Oscars to re-visit year after year, or at least until Bruce Vilanch dies

Cirque du Soleil throws the Oscar for a few tumbles with a complicated sequence that still made me think of Batman Forever. Even though they were performing feats I couldn’t pull off in at least two lifetimes, it was even a bit fun to witness the imperfections of such stunts – and see how they rebounded. However labored this spectacle might be, it will likely be forgotten in such a bland awards show.
PLUS Three minutes of entertainment that actually brought some thrill to “loving the movies”

Speaking of “daring entertainment,” Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez storm the stage with tight fitting dresses, and then proceed to show off their butts while trying to present “Best Make Up.” My friend Marty freaked out when he realized he could trace the curvature of Lopez’s posterior on his TV.
PLUS One odd, yet very beautiful and rounded moment

A bunch of top names (from Morgan Freeman to Adam Sandler) share their first movie-going experiences. This might have sent some people to the bathroom, but I thought it was kind of nice. It’s the kind of question you don’t hear often asked, yet you would think it would be a pretty significant part of an acting professional’s life.
PLUS A bunch of celebrities sounding a bit more human because the first movie they ever saw sucked too

Christopher Guest and his comedic entourage achieve a few laughs with their skit about a test screening audience for The Wizard of Oz. Eugene Levy has a priceless mustache, and Christopher Guest proves once again that he can play any character he wants.
MINUS Ten more years until we get the next Christopher Guest movie, which will probably be only half funny

No surprise, Christopher Plummer gets an Oscar for the highly underrated Beginners. While on stage, he gives another amazing compliment to his wife that made guys and gals swoon.
PLUS Another line written by a Christopher Plummer acceptance speech that I’m definitely not going to steal to make Christina Hendricks swoon and ultimately fall in love with me

Tom Sherak, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, fulfills his duty of giving everyone a beer run break during the actual ceremony. Billy Crystal makes a crack about how boring Sherak is, which only generates groans and memories of Gervais (again).
MINUS The fleeting joy of watching something like the Oscars

Woody Allen wins “Best Original Screenplay” for Midnight in Paris. In typical Woody fashion, he isn’t there to accept his award. Where is he? He’s either playing clarinet in New York, or trying to write a new muse part for Kate Upton.
PLUS Another moment of Woody Allen sticking it to the Oscars like it’s 1978, bee-yotch

Michel Hazanavicius, a nice guy with a very hard last name to pronounce, beats four veteran auteurs for “Best Director.” Though this moment caused me to scream a common taunt heard by Ruxin in “The League,” that stock photo of Terrence Malick semi-smiling has never looked more defeated. Just like Fernando Trueba gave props to Billy Wilder in 1992 during his acceptance speech, Hazanavicius says he would like to thank “Billy Wilder, Billy Wilder, and Billy Wilder.”
PLUS A bunch of points I earned for my Oscar bowling venture, and the joy of screaming in the faces of my fellow viewers. Some props to Billy Wilder is always nice too

In a move that seems more at home for the MTV Movie Awards, Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell come on stage banging crash cymbals, and consistently drop them. Galifianakis makes his last name all the more difficult for newcomers to pronounce when he screws up his own pronunciation of the word.
MINUS Two minutes of fanfare that would have been more effective at the MTV Movie Awards, or even, The Teen’s Choice Awards

Is that popcorn being handed out? Who gets one, and who doesn’t? Does Jonah Hill have an advantage over Martin Scorsese in this manner because Hill is closer to the back of the room? What did the popcorn even taste like?
MINUS The starving drunk bellies of hundreds of other people in the same room

In a move that seems unusual, “Best Actress” is listed AFTER “Best Actor.” I don’t know why it happened in this fashion, but I like it. When Meryl (undeservedly) wins her Oscar for “Best Actress,” she comments about half the country groaning at her victory. She’s right. I don’t even like Viola Davis’ performance in The Help all that much, but I’d rather see that win than anything related to The Iron Lady.
MINUS Another moment in which Streep, and all those who worship her, could be slightly humbled

Oh that’s right! There were no preview reels for this year’s “Best Picture” nominees, scattered throughout the ceremony. Nope, this year we get them all name dropped by a Tom Cruise spiel, and that’s it. Even when the nominees are listed on screen, it’s like they didn’t make the slides until the last minute, and forgot to take pictures. If you hadn’t been paying attention to the show much, you wouldn’t have even known about hardly-nominated movies like The Tree of Life until now.
MINUS The fun of watching Oscar scramble to educate viewers on all of the nominees while trying to keep a lean running time

The Artist wins “Best Picture,” and once again I am screaming Ruxin-like taunts in the faces of those in the room who were rooting for Hugo. The best part of this moment? Watching now Oscar-winning actor Jean Dujardin get stuck on dog duty, having to entertain the famous Uggie in the background while everyone soaks up all of the big boy attention.
PLUS Vive le France, vive le movies, and vive le original screenplays

Act of Valor wins this weekend’s box office, and a Tyler Perry movie runs in second place. You might have won one round, The Artist, but this is still America.
PLUS Another opportunity for me to jokingly say “America, f**k yeah!” on this website

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