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A few thoughts about.....The Oscars (2009)


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#1 of 72 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 23 2009 - 03:32 AM

I had the pleasure of being in the HTF chat room last evening with
a few members who stopped on in to hang out and comment on the
evening's festivities.

Within the first 40 minutes, many of us were commenting on just
how good this year's show was. It became obvious that finally, after
all these years, someone had taken the initiative to approach this tired
awards show and take it in an entirely new direction.

I have to be honest that I was shuddering at the fact that Hugh
Jackman would be this year's host. First, I had hoped that Billy
Crystal would return. Secondly, I knew that with Hugh Jackman
at the helm, there would be too much singing and dancing and not
enough comedy to keep the show interesting.

From the opening number, I knew that I was totally in the wrong.

A very able and confident Hugh Jackman took and commanded
the stage for the entire evening. The song and dance numbers were
so well thought and choreographed that they completely put to shame
the lame productions of years past. This year's opening number is
one for the books.

If that wasn't enough, the producers this year did something totally
brave and unimaginable --- they brought intimacy to the show. A
small circle of nominees were brought to a winner's circle, forefront,
bordering the stage. Instead of someone simply reading the names
of the nominees and showing clips of their performance, the task was
turned to a group of 5 major award winners of past years who spoke
directly to each of the nominees. To sit and watch the tears fill
the eyes of each nominee as they were praised, surely had an
equal affect on this viewer. Never before has an award show been
able to draw so much emotion from those who care so much about
each other's work.

I don't think there were any major surprises as far as winners are
concerned. This was one year I think the major winners were pretty
obvious, and for that, I think most all of us accurately predicted them.

I was most gratified to see Jerry Lewis honored. Since I was a kid,
I have adored Mr. Lewis and his body of work. I have never laughed
at anything as much as his films. I had always dreamed of meeting him
one day. I hope that dream may one day be fulfilled.

In all, this year's 81st Academy Awards did what oscar shows should
do -- trim the fat, cut the baloney, and get down to the essentials of
honoring the industries best.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 72 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted February 23 2009 - 03:45 AM

I completely agree, Ron. By far this was the most thoughtful and appropriate Academy Awards show that I can remember. The presenters seemed far more comfortable this year - and Ben Stiller doing his Jaquin Phoenix impersonation and the comic genious of Steve Martin and Tina Fey were highlights.
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#3 of 72 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted February 23 2009 - 03:46 AM

Quote:
This year's opening number is
one for the books.

I commented on this in the other thread, but I actually found the show "pretending" to have been affected by the economy to be somewhat distasteful. And, at least for me, provided another example of Hollywood being out of touch with the real world.
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#4 of 72 OFFLINE   todd s

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Posted February 23 2009 - 03:50 AM

The roaving camera for the "In Memoriam" was very annoying.
Bring back John Doe! Or at least resolve the cliff-hanger with a 2hr movie or as an extra on a dvd release.

#5 of 72 OFFLINE   ZacharyTait

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Posted February 23 2009 - 03:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
I completely agree, Ron. By far this was the most thoughtful and appropriate Academy Awards show that I can remember. The presenters seemed far more comfortable this year - and Ben Stiller doing his Jaquin Phoenix impersonation and the comic genious of Steve Martin and Tina Fey were highlights.

I would agree with you there completely Neil, except that James Franco and Seth Rogen as their Pineapple Express characters was absolutely hilarious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by todd s
The roaving camera for the "In Memoriam" was very annoying.

I agree as it made it hard to read some of the names for people that weren't immediately recognizeable. How about showing the pictures and names onscreen just like the film clips while the song plays on the soundtrack?

I think some more fat could be trimmed by relegating the Doc Shorts, Live Action Shorts and Animated Shorts to the Science and Technical awards. No more than 5% of the movie goers in this country are ever going to see all of them.

Being a movie buff, I knew which 3 of the last 47 nominees for VFX had not being created using the software that the Science and Technical award guy had written. Posted Image

#6 of 72 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 23 2009 - 04:59 AM

Thanks for sharing your impressions Ron.

I watched the show with some friends who had their doubts about Jackman as well, but having seen him as host for SNL and MC for the Tony's I was looking forward to him doing his thing. The opening number was definitely out of the park and my friends were very impressed. At one point one of them asked where Jackman had gone to when he'd been absent for a little while.

The actor presentations started out rough and it took a bit for me to warm up to them, but by the end of the evening I thought they were great. I think a lot of that had to do with the previous winners speaking directly to the nominees rather than reading things off a prompter.

The "In Memoriam" segment did not translate well to television. They should have just ran the video directly instead of trying to give viewers the same experience as those in the theater.

The tribute to musicals felt the most unnecessary and merely an excuse for Jackman to sing and dance. But overall I think it was a much improved ceremony for its increased intimacy and Jackman's hosting skills.
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#7 of 72 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:09 AM

Count me in as another who totally loved Jackman as the host. I'm a big Jon Stewart fan but even I felt he was out of his element when he hosted. And color me blasphemous but I wasn't the biggest Billy Crystal fan either (though I thought he was fine) and am too young to remember much of Carson. I hope Jackman returns as host. I knew he was a musically trained stage actor but not until last night did I notice how good his vocal pipes were!

I think we heard more true "live" music last night than at many pop-concerts (are you listening Britney? If you really want to impress us turn off that "guide" track and sing!). Posted Image

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#8 of 72 ONLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:13 AM

What was with Ben Stiller? His schtick started off amusing but after awhile you got the impression he really was stoned out of his mind, especially when he started aimlessly wandering around the stage. That became lame quickly.

I also thought the musical tribute was not very impressive. The choreography just seemed "off" to me. Although, it was amusing to see that the choreography for the "Mama Mia" bit was better than anything in the actual movie.
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#9 of 72 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwin-S
What was with Ben Stiller? His schtick started off amusing but after awhile you got the impression he really was stoned out of his mind, especially when he started aimlessly wandering around the stage. That became lame quickly.
Just have to ask: Did you see the Letterman/Joaquin Phoenix interview that was spoofing? His schtick was dead-on. I was rolling. Posted Image

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#10 of 72 ONLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlo Medina
Just have to ask: Did you see the Letterman/Joaquin Phoenix interview that was spoofing? His schtick was dead-on. I was rolling. Posted Image

No. Maybe if I had seen the interview I would have got the joke better. On the other hand, performing a routine that requires a person to have pre-existing knowledge of someone elses interview seems lame, especially at an awards show.

I'll see if I can find the interview in order to see what I was missing.
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#11 of 72 OFFLINE   Pete-D

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:27 AM

I dunno I think Mickey Rourke not winning Best Actor was a pretty big shock.

Penelope Cruz winning Supporting Actress was a bit of a surprise also.

Slumdog did as expected.

#12 of 72 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:31 AM

Quote:
and Ben Stiller doing his Jaquin Phoenix impersonation and the comic genious of Steve Martin and Tina Fey were highlights.

"You look like the owner of a Hasidic Meth House"

Great crack.

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#13 of 72 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:33 AM

I expected Rourke not to win. Up against the much more-popular-among-actors (largest voting bloc) Penn, playing the role of Harvey Milk, in a year where Prop 8 did its thing? Not a shock at all.

I wanted Rourke to win, and I'd have been shocked if he did.
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#14 of 72 OFFLINE   WillG

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:43 AM

Quote:
I hope Jackman returns as host. I knew he was a musically trained stage actor but not until last night did I notice how good his vocal pipes were!

I guess Jackman was fine. Still, I'd rather have someone known for comedy than stage/musical theater. But then again, the last few hosts weren't that great. Personally, I liked Chris Rock, but I guess the celebs were a little too thin-skinned for him. And I have a suspicion that one of the reasons Jackman was chosen was because they thought he'd be "safe" in that capacity.
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#15 of 72 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:53 AM

Likes:

The new style.
Jackman was a lot better than I was expecting.
The stage was nice.

Dislikes:

The political rally that broke out.
Newman not getting a separate tribute.
Heston not getting any applause.
Penn and Ledger winning. Political and sentimental votes.
I think the show slowed down the final two hours.

#16 of 72 ONLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted February 23 2009 - 05:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattCR
"You look like the owner of a Hasidic Meth House"

Great crack.

That line was funny and Martin and Fey were good as well.

@ Carlo Medina

Watched the interview, so I now I get Stiller's parody a little better.
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#17 of 72 OFFLINE   Pete-D

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Posted February 23 2009 - 06:03 AM

I thought it was funny that Daniel Craig was essentially playing 007 during his bit. It was cute that he apparently got mobbed by the kids from Slumdog Millionaire for autographs.

#18 of 72 OFFLINE   Scott D S

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Posted February 23 2009 - 06:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
If that wasn't enough, the producers this year did something totally brave and unimaginable --- they brought intimacy to the show. A small circle of nominees were brought to a winner's circle, forefront, bordering the stage. Instead of someone simply reading the names of the nominees and showing clips of their performance, the task was turned to a group of 5 major award winners of past years who spoke directly to each of the nominees. To sit and watch the tears fill the eyes of each nominee as they were praised, surely had an equal affect on this viewer. Never before has an award show been able to draw so much emotion from those who care so much about each other's work.

I liked this concept in theory and the nostalgia factor was wonderful but I think it took way too long and was really nothing more than a mutual masturbation fest. Personally, I would have been completely uncomfortable either way.

LIKES:
-I'm not a big song and dance man but I thought Jackman was just fine
-Ben Stiller (I missed the first minute of this)
-Tina Fey and Steve Martin and their subtle dig at Scientology
-Jack Black's comment about betting for Pixar
-Michael Giacchino doing the music... did I hear the Star Trek theme at one point? Posted Image
-Nice to see a Fincher film get a few Oscars (after Zodiac got the shaft)
-The Pineapple Express skit with DP Janusz Kaminsky (!)
-the 2009 preview... bring on Public Enemies!

DISLIKES:
-The politics as usual
-The aforementioned best acting presentations
-The roving camera during the "in memorium" - I have a 42" TV so I had no problem reading the names but I could understand why other people would
-A few musical numbers and montages too many (and I like montages!)
-I wanted to hear more from Jerry Lewis

#19 of 72 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted February 23 2009 - 07:01 AM

Quote:
Newman not getting a separate tribute.
Why not Heston instead? Or say, Sidney Pollack?

Is there a history of singling out one of the departed for a separate tribute that makes you think Newman should have gotten one?

More importantly, is there anything short of a ceremony tailored to your personal tastes that would have satisfied you?

--
H

#20 of 72 OFFLINE   Abby_B

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Posted February 23 2009 - 07:19 AM

I agree that Hugh Jackman was a surprisingly good host. I loved the musical acts (maybe I'm a sucker for those) - even the showtunes one, which I wasn't QUITE sure what the whole point of it was but a fun number nonetheless. And while the best acting presentations were a bit long, I thought it was a nice new touch to the ceremony.

I actually wasn't too much of a fan of the Pineapple Express skit, except for the Janusz Kaminsky cameo at the end of it Posted Image


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