I don't have a lot overly-detailed comment on about the Oscars. As is my tradition, I didn't watch them live, but recorded and fast-forwarded through in an hour less than the ridiculously-long running time. They seemed fine, and fairly straight-forward. Some random thoughts.
Most of my favorites didn't win, but several did, and I have no particular quibbles with any of the winners. They all seemed pretty reasonable. I didn't "love" The Shape of Water but I thought it was a wonderfully-made movie with very good performances, so I understand the awards it won. What kept me personally from loving it is that I found it incredibly derivative of Splash, not just in theme, but a great many scenes.
My only award "complaint" on winners has nothing to do with whether it was deserved, and that's Allison Janney getting Best Supporting Actress for I, Tonya. In fact, I didn't see the movie. I had zero interest. Which actually is related to my personal reaction here. I've not only watched tons of news coverage of the attack over the years, being the professional Olympic-watcher that I am, but I've also watched two, long documentaries on the subject, one a two-hour work by ESPN, and the other a special done by (I think) NBC. And unlike a movie, which is trying to craft a story and build to a dramatic point, the documentaries were just trying to uncover on the truth of what happened, and report it. And for all I've seen over the years from the detailed reporting of evidence, t's almost impossible for me to think that Tonya Harding wasn't involved. And she's not the victim. So, to see the movie get any award and added attention (that Margot Robbie brought Tonya Harding as her guest to the Golden Globes was galling to me) -- though I understand Allison Janney was great.
Speaking of which, I particularly enjoyed the banter between Jody Foster and Jennifer Lawrence about Foster being on crutches because Meryl Streep had kneecapped her. Though just a joke (and a good one), it was nice to see a reminder about someone attacking their competitor. Not "Her husband and his hired thugs attacked me, though she didn't know anything about it."
I know i'm not alone is enjoying the banter between Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph. They had terrific rapport, though it shouldn't be overlooked that what was written for them to say was so funny and smart.
I loved seeing Eva Marie Saint, and at 90. I had the chance to not just meet her about 10 years ago but talk with her for a while, and she was an absolute, utter joy. (And from what I've since been told by others, that's who she is.) The odd thing -- and I must embarrass myself to tell this properly about how lovely she was -- is that we talked for almost 10 minutes and for most of that time...I had no idea who I was talking to. It was at a "viewing party" for a friend who had written a TV movie being shown that night, and I was sitting on a sofa when she came over. In fairness to myself, I'm terrible with faces, and have a very light case of "face blindness," I think. And she was 80 years old, not the 30-year-old Eva Marie Saint we recall from her stardom years. Yes, I should have known better, but I didn't. So, to me, I was just talking with this sweet, friendly lady without an ounce of showiness who was asking far more questions about me than I of her -- and I was asking her plenty of questions -- and just talking about things in general. Finally, as we neared the end of our conversation, thank heavens it at last clicked in with me and i realized, "Oh, my God, this is Eva Marie Saint!!!" So, at least I did figure it out while talking with her. Just barely, but it counts. And she was an absolute treat. So, it was great that they had her on and that she came across so well.
I thought Jimmy Kimmel generally did a very nice, solid job. I liked the very opening in black-and-white, like an old newsreel, which was pretty funny. and though the opening monologue was was a low-key, it was good. The bit later on of going across the street was cute in theory, but didn't work and used up far too much time -- just like last year's similar attempt, bringing in visitors from a tour bus.
Much as I preferred Denzel Washington's understated, tour-de-force performance in a movie that few people saw, I thought Gary Oldman gave a wonderful, deserving performance in Darkest Hour -- but I will forever stand on my belief that I think much of people's reaction to it as being SO especially-good and realistic is because of the spectacular make-up that made you believe you were actually watching the real Winston Churchill. He was terrific -- but if he wasn't in such heavy and amazing makeup (unlike Sissy Spacek and Jamie Foxx when they won Oscars for portraying the real-life Loretta Lynn and Ray Charles...), I don't believe the response to his performance, excellent though it was, would have been as visceral.
As you might imagine, I watch the Best Screenplay presentations closely, and I was disappointed how underplayed they were, with little explanation compared to previous years of what screenwriters do. And instead of given right before Best Director as usual, they were buried somewhat earlier in the night.
I think all the film montages were seriously-impressively done. Really well-edited, very clever. It's just that, if memory serves, they ALL, maybe half a dozen, were about actors and actresses. While I understand that, it seemed a bit much -- especially since if they had decided to honor cinematographers or editors or whoever, the montage would have included actors and actresses, just the same.
I have no idea why Chuck Berry was included in the In Memoriam video. I suppose it's possible that he may have appeared in a cameo in one or two of those low-end rock 'n roll movies in the '50s, but he has virtually no real connection with the movies. As for the rest of the montage, I was surprised to see that someone had passed away who I had a tangential relation to. I won't say who, but will just note she was an executive who turned down a film project of mine submitted to her by two successful filmmakers by saying, "I feel like a traitor to my gender, but I don't like female empowerment stories." Actually the story is much worse, but I'd have to give more away than I want, and she did die, after all, so I'll leave it at that.
For all its showiness, I liked Frances McDormand asking all women who had been nominated to stand up. And a smart touch, too, tossed in at the last second, to say to Meryl Streep that if you stand up, everyone will. (I have the feeling that at this point if Meryl Streep had stood up at any point in the ceremonies and said, "I'm going out to get some ice cream, anyone want to join me?", the room would have emptied.)
I liked that they brought back Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to have another go with present the Best Picture. Though the show's producers missed a great opportunity to have fun with the moment, like having armed security guards bringing out the envelope, or more.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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