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Monday, February 23, 2015

A Night At The Oscars: NPH, LOL, and WTF

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 10:46 AM

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Each year we anticipate this show. We make seven-layer dip and come up with clever trivia games for our parties. We argue about who will win and who will lose.

And then it arrives, The Academy Awards Show, and it's always the same: duller than a mid-'60s student-made French art film. So dull, in fact, that the producer didn't even try to think out of the box at all this year and just went with Neil Patrick Harris (or NPH, as he is known, which admittedly sounds like a highway between West Hollywood and Venice Beach). Harris has hosted The Tony Awards a few times and is the perfect blend of ta-da and snark for such an affair. I'm sure some viewers thought this was a good carry over to the Oscars and found his song and dance number to be the cat's meow, the bees knees, or whatever else people over the age of 80 say these days. He did start off with a good joke though when he said the night was full of the "best and the whitest" — oops, he meant brightest. 


Some highlight/lowlights: Patricia Arquette's Norma Rae speech about equal pay for women managed to get J-Lo off her butt and whooping as if Puerto Rico had just been emancipated or something. Who knew she was a feminazi? J.K. Simmons nabbed Best Supporting Actor and did what I always find annoying when dark horses win huge prizes, he acted like he deserved it. Here's the rule: If you are a TV star that finally gets a good movie role and the you actually win an Academy Award, you are supposed to be gobsmacked, humble, and in total supplication to the other people nominated in your category, with which you are honored to even be mentioned next to.

My favorite part of these events is always the In Memoriam roll of those we have lost, but it is always tainted by some sort of applause-o-meter, which is disrespectful to anyone who did great things and didn't get any cheers. So when Andy Rooney (Andy fucking Rooney!) showed up to a smatter of clapping and Richard Attenborough almost got a standing ovation, well, something is very wrong.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Lady Gaga's ode to The Sound of Music. We were all waiting for her to rip off her normal white dress to reveal robotic underwear, or for her to break out of the song and instead do a salute to the Nazi characters of the film, but no, she not only stayed true to the original, she freakin' killed it. In the end I realized that the most bizarre thing Lady Gaga could do, and the most post-modern, would be to deliver a straight-forward performance. So even then, she continued to surprise us. [Ed. note: Not everyone loved it.]

Michael Keaton was the guy everyone wanted to win, though Mama always told me to stay away from men who wear pinkie rings and chew gum, and seeing him chomp away, open-mouthed, during every cutaway to his face must've made her cringe. But America loves vindication and we love to honor great actors whose careers have taken a downward spiral but then bounced back up, like Keaton this year with the meta-masterpiece Birdman. He didn't win, and I actually think he didn't deserve to, anyway. He had a perfectly fine performance but it wasn't the year's best. But oh, how wonderful it would've felt to see a guy we like win. 

And speaking of vindication, John Travolta managed to hit the reset button on his previous Idina Menzel name-raping kerfuffle by presenting with her and poking fun at himself. Incidentally, is it just me or is Travolta looking more and more like Dracula's butler with each passing year? 

But the ultimate Oscar vindication that we are all waiting for is the ceremony itself. Every year we hope for the best and pray it will finally get its due; perhaps a funny host that deftly combines humor with sophistication; a pacing that keeps things moving along but doesn't feel forced or rushed, and good speeches that don't bore us with lists of names. In this computer age, winners could just put hashtags at the bottom of the screen listing everyone they want to thank and instead using their time to tell humorous anecdotes about the production. Just an idea. 

[Ed. note No. 2 — The only segment we've watched multiple times since it aired last night is Common and John Legend's chill-inducing performance of "Glory." So, you know, here's that.]


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Katy St. Clair

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