Monday, February 27, 2012
The Oscars: Welcome Back, Billy (we've missed you)
What a difference a year makes. Last February I described the 2011 Oscars as "a horribly misbegotten mess" that made me long "for the bygone days of a single entertaining host like Hugh Jackman or the fabulous Billy Crystal". Well, the powers that be listened to my plea to bring one of them back this year. Mr. Crystal was terrific in his ninth time as host, and the show overall moved along quite briskly with very few dull moments. I had a great time watching them, so now let's relive the 84th Annual Academy Awards with my highlights and lowlights of the evening:
Fabulous Opening: Billy remains the top film "spoofer" of all time as he had George Clooney kissing him and Justin Bieber making an amusing appearance in order to bring in the 18 to 24-year-olds. And even the late Sammy Davis Jr. showed up (I just now read online that some folks were upset by Crystal's funny impersonation, which he has been doing since he was on Saturday Night Live almost 30 years ago. My response to this ridiculous criticism is "Good grief, people, lighten up and get a sense of humor").
Best Billy Joke Honorable Mention: "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - that's how my relatives are watching the show."
Best Billy Joke Runner-Up: "This better not go too late, I have six parent-teacher conferences in the morning" (Crystal reading Brad Pitt's mind).
Best Billy Joke: "A dark knight, an American psycho, a charismatic crack addict - you'll get to choose one on Super Tuesday" (his introduction for presenter Christian Bale).
Hottest Guys Honorable Mention: Directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, whose film, Undefeated, won Best Documentary Feature.
Hottest Guys Runner-Up: Tom Cruise and Demián Bichir, whom I didn't realize until last night was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor (I only know him from the TV series, Weeds).
Hottest Guy at the Oscars: The Artist's Jean Dujardin
She Cleans Up Nicely: I didn't even recognize actress Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).
Most Gorgeous Gal Runner-Up: Angelina Jolie and her sexy leg-exposing gown. Her cool demeanor reminds me of actress Faye Dunaway.
Sweetest Shout-out: I liked that Tom Hanks honored Carl, who has been a seat-filler at the Oscars for 59 years.
Best Goldie Hawn Shout-out: Reese Witherspoon revealed her love for the actress' 1987 romantic comedy, Overboard, with Kurt Russell. Personally, I prefer Cactus Flower (1969) and Shampoo (1975).
I'll Still Shop at JC Penney: Ellen DeGeneres' new commercials for the store were very hit-and-miss. I wish they had been funnier.
Worst Montage of the Night: Did we really need to see another time-wasting film montage featuring clips from Forrest Gump and Titanic? I don't think so.
Goofiest Gals: What were Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez smoking? Did they really think it would be that hilarious if they read the winner's name for Costume Design with their backs to the audience?
Best Cameo Appearance: It was nice to see Barbra Streisand in a brief filmed bit.
Best Previously Hidden Talent: Who knew Sandra Bullock could speak Mandarin Chinese?
Best Standing Ovation Honorable Mention: An emotional Octavia Spencer, who deservedly won Best Supporting Actress for her wonderful performance in The Help.
Recommendation for Next Year: Don't tell the winning actors to wrap up their acceptance speeches. Let them talk for as long as they want because most of us watching the telecast want to hear what they have to say.
Best Comedy Sketch: The focus group for The Wizard of Oz starring Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban and Jennifer Coolidge, who have all appeared together in films directed by Guest, including Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. I think Mr. Guest needs to make another movie with his friends.
Most Impressive Performance: I'm not usually a big fan of Cirque du Soleil, but I enjoyed their amazingly athletic performance.
Best Speech Runner-Up and Best Standing Ovation: The eloquent and entertaining Christopher Plummer, who at age 82 became the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar for his Best Supporting Actor performance in Beginners.
Worst Comedy Bit: Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow's painful attempt at comedy.
Funniest Presenter: Chris Rock
Funniest Couple Runner-Up: Ben Stiller and the delightful Emma Stone
Funniest Response from a Nominee in the Audience: Jonah Hill refusing to get up and dance with enthusiastic first-time presenter Emma Stone.
Funniest Couple: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis with their cymbals - they made me laugh.
Cutest Dog: The Artist's Uggie, of course, in his bow tie.
I Remember Him: Actor/comedian Nat Faxon won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (with director Alexander Payne and writing partner Jim Rash) for The Descendants - and I remember him as Kevin the P.A. on the 2000-01 TV series, Grosse Pointe.
In Memoriam: I thought this annual tribute was nicely done - especially Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra wink at the end.
Best Standing Ovation Runner-Up and Best Speech: Meryl Streep, who won her third Oscar for her Best Actress performance in The Iron Lady, made sure to thank her husband first. Her speech was both funny and quite moving.
Best Film and Best Director: The Artist directed by Michel Hazanavicius, whom I didn't know until last night was married to his lovely leading lady, Bérénice Bejo.
Best Line of the Night: "I love your country" - Jean Dujardin in his Best Actor acceptance speech
My Correct Predictions: I got 15 out of the 24 categories right, which I think is pretty good.
And that, folks, is my review (click here for a complete list of the winners).