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February 26, 2021
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The Oscars 2007
(2007-03-19)
(wgvu) - The Oscars have always been somewhat of snooze fest for me, but this year the muted tone of the ceremony kept me flipping channels more than usual. I have this pattern that has developed over the past decade or so. I usually watch the first half hour or so, tuning in after the red carpet stuff, and then either switch to another channel, or pick up a book, or put some music on the stereo. Then every fifteen minutes, or half hour, or forty five minutes (if I'm really bored with the show), I check in to see what's happening. Back in my teenage years, I used to watch it every minute of it, usually in my room, on the tiny black n' white TV that my dad won in a golf tournament. When I attended film school the Oscars were a big deal for me, and my fellow students. We were mostly total snobs, though, having seen all the nominees plus all the non-commercial films that we thought were superior. I've still got that film snobbery, but it's tempered by a love for pop-corn movies, and with an understanding that the Oscars are about movies that are good and also make big bucks. They do nominate and sometimes award movies that are less than blockbusters, but the big winners are always movies that were big winners at the box office, too.

Anyway, I thought that this year the dull factor was inherent. It wasn't the fault of the host, Ellen DeGeneres. She had a daunting task, because it has been rare that the Oscar hosts have made a good impression in the past two decades, other than Billy Crystal, and even his last outing was criticized. Last year Jon Stewart bombed. He's hot on the Daily Show, but seemed diminished and too East Coast for the Hollywood glamour fest. Whoopie Goldberg was ok, maybe, or not. And David Letterman really laid an egg a few years back. Ellen was ok, smooth and warm, and her monologue was amusing (clip). She played around with both Martin Scorcese and Clint Eastwood. (clip) And she poked fun at her own job. (clip) Many of the presenters were pretty, too, from Steve Carrell to Robert Downey Jr, to the soon to be in-drag John Travolta. (clip) And the former Vice President had his chance for yuks as a presenter. (clip) They brought out the children with Will Smith's son Jaden, who starred with his father in The Pursuit of Happiness and Abigail Breslin, from Little Miss Sunshine. (clip) And there was even a reference to Snakes on a Plane with a routine from Ellen and the dance group Polabolus.(clip)
And the winners no real surprises Helen Mirren from The Queen and Forrest Whittaker from The Last King of Scotland were shoe-ins, and marvelously deserve honors. Jennifer Hudson was all the buzz for Best Supporting Actress, and the Academy loves a down-home success story. Alan Arkin has deseved an Oscar for decades, and he and screenwriter Michael Arndt were the winners from last year's feel good underdog Little Miss Sunshine. With Global Warming the political buzz topic, An Inconvenient Truth was another shoe-in, also because it was probably the only documentary most Academy members actually saw. The fact that Happy Feet won Best Animated Feature is a good reason to get rid of this category. And Martin Scorcese, and The Departed (clip) Scorcese could've ended up like those in the gigantic list of Great Directors who never won an Oscar Robert Altman, Ingmar Bergman, Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, Federico Fellini, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Buster Keaton, Stanley Kubrick, Fritz Lang, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, Sam Peckinpah, Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut, and Orson Welles, to name but a few out of the Legion of the Oscar-less. A few of those got one of those honorary Oscars, but that's just emeritus award for the over-looked. Scorcese has his Best Director Academy Award, good for him. He should've gotten it for Mean Streets, or Taxi Driver, or certainly Raging Bull or Good Fellas, but, hey, he's got that sucker. And The Departed was an excellent candidate for Best Picture. I didn't see Marty get his statue, or Jack and Diane announcing Best Picture. I was asleep.
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