I don't care about what "the interwebs" says (it is just a series of tubes, after all) -- I thought Ellen DeGeneres did a terrific job hosting the Oscars. Let's face it: the job is nearly impossible. No one can host the damn thing and please everyone. Ellen's mean joke about Liza Minnelli put to rest the notion that she is too "nice." Ordering pizza for the front row was funny, and when the pizzas finally arrived, I thought it was odd that most of the celebrities grabbing a slice did not grab one for their spouses. Maybe they all planned to share their pizza slices by both chewing in toward the center, Lady and The Tramp style. Because if there's one thing I believe about celebrity relationships, it's that they are based on the same sense of deep love and unending commitment as that shared by cartoon doggies.
Several websites reported in the wake of the Oscars that, although Ellen took her famous, record-retweet selfie with a Samsung Android phone (Did money change hands for that bit of promotion?) she was actually tweeting backstage from an iPhone. Hee hee! Ya burnt, Ellen.
If you simply cannot break your Twitter addiction, even on Oscar night, may I recommend our very own Erich Asperschlager's "#fakeoscars" tweets? He announced early on that he was replacing the red carpet with a slip 'n' slide, and later when Travolta made his now-famous gaffe introducing Idina Menzel, Asperschlager tweeted that Travolta had introduced her as "Royale With Cheese." Dude is hilarious.
Pharrell Williams's performance of his nominated song "Happy" was terrific, especially the part where he jumped into the audience and invited celebrities to dance. Meryl Streep has moves. "Why you no dance, Jennifer Lawrence? Don't be stuck up."
Conclusion? Minions + Pharrell = Heroin for Children.
Why is it that the older I get, the sadder the "In Memoriam" montage makes me feel? (EDITOR'S NOTE: It is because each year JB draws closer to death.)
I was happy that 20 Feet From Stardom won Best Documentary, though right before the award was announced, I was commenting to our group that I thought it was at a disadvantage over weightier fare like The Act of Killing. I will not gloat over this win, though I championed this film early on. @JimLovesMovies on the Twitter machine expected me to be insufferably smug about the film's victory.
News to Jim: I am insufferably smug about EVERYTHING.
The fact that 20 Feet From Stardom took home the trophy got me wondering why Good Ol' Freda wasn't even nominated. Freda was my favorite documentary last year. I would have liked to hear director Ryan White's acceptance speech.
Monday morning the newspapers, radio, and the world wide web were full of complaints about the show's problematic length. Want to make the Oscar broadcast shorter? Here are my suggestions:
1. Start on time.
2. What's with all the singing? I love The Wizard of Oz as much as the next guy but do we need to celebrate its 75th anniversary by allowing Pink to sing? I think not. The "In Memoriam" montage is enough; we do not need Bette Midler belting out "Wind Beneath My Wings" to prove that these people will be missed. This is the Oscars, not the Grammys; the live performances of the nominated songs give us enough music for one evening, thank you.
3. Perhaps make it a rule that each Oscar telecast can only contain ONE inspiring montage of film clips. This year's "Everyday Heroes" montage reminded me of a crude commercial for Netflix. Look, Academy - you don't have to "sell" us on movies. We're all on board for movies. THAT'S WHY WE'RE WATCHING THE GODDAMN OSCARS. We love the movies so much, we will sit through THIS.
4. Like the Grammys, give more awards in advance. Save only the big ones for the actual live broadcast. Handing out 24 awards in 2 1/2 hours is a goal that is well nigh impossible for presenters and recipients who love to talk and talk.
5. One presenter per award. No reason for banal banter-- read the nominations and then the winner! Imagine!
6. Most of the audience already knows the films nominated for Best Picture. You do not have to choose bored-looking celebrities (I'm looking at you, Harrison Ford -- though you're looking at a teleprompter) to introduce them. This would also solve the problem of the god-awful, unrepresentative clips the Academy always chooses to represent the film.
7. The host can only go into the audience ONCE.
For the last decade or so my lovely wife and I have thrown an Oscar party, and we have developed some ironclad traditions. At some point in the evening, Doug always takes off his pants. Patrick loses the Oscar pool every year because a) he votes for what he feels deserves to win and b) he does not give a shit. Every year, my wife sculpts an Oscar replica out of Merkt's Cheese. We call it "The Choscar." It is decorative and delicious. Last year, our Choscar looked like this:
Anti-Gravity Tang Cocktail: Just the thing for when you’re drinking alone!
Captain (Morgan) Navy Seal Grog: Two of these and you’ll gladly let someone else drive the boat— three and you’ll go into shock.
Irish Soda Bread and Jam: Just the type of comfort food you need when the Catholic Church steals your baby and sells it. You’ll search and search and never find a better appetizer… or your lost son.
12 Years a Slave
Salami Northwraps: See, in the movie the character’s name was Solomon Northrup, so… we thought this would be funny, but it’s probably racist.
Assorted Sandwiches: Just the thing for when you’re sitting on the couch, watching TV. How long did it take you to get here? THREE DAYS? From Billings?!!
Dallas Buyer’s Club
Rodeo Salsa: Because “rodeo salsa” is a thing, right? Also, there’s AZT in it. Alright alright alright!
Sushi: Theodore goes out on a creepy date, and they eat "Asian Fusion." I don't know what that is, but Whole Foods sells ready-made sushi, and we couldn't think of anything else, so....
Assorted “Science Oven” Snacks: Erika actually set our kitchen curtains on fire preparing these! Does my comb-over look okay?
The Wolf of Wall Street
Hookers and Cocaine: Or maybe they were brownies and powdered sugar. These Quaaludes must be really old…I don’t feel a thing…
here and here and here, the Academy almost always gets it wrong. With the benefit of history, we see how boneheaded so many of their choices were. So this year 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture, and maybe that's a good thing! But how much of an honor is it really? It will merely join the ranks of shitburgers like Broadway Melody, Cavalcade, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around The World In 80 Days, Titanic, The English Patient, Gladiator, The Artist, and The King's Speech.
Most weeks in this column, even when I'm not talking about the movies, I really am talking about movies. But this week, because I'm talking about the Oscars, I'm not talking about the movies at all.