Feature: Oscar & Emmy Watch

Oscar & Emmy Watch: Musings & Misgivings: Oscar Night

Author: Alan Appel
Published: February 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Few would argue that there was little suspense over who would be the major winners at last night’s 83rd Academy Awards.

Colin Firth and Natalie Portman were considered virtual shoo-ins for Best Actress (Black Swan) and Best Actor (The King’s Speech), and both Melissa Leo (dropping, and having ABC bleep out, an F*** bomb in her remarks, suggesting, who knows, she may have thought she was still in character as the film’s potty-mouthed mother) and Christian Bale for their supporting turns in The Fighter, but here’s my question surrounding the Best Picture prize for The King’s Speech: since the producers of the telecast decided to play Firth’s climactic speech as King George VI in the film for several minutes (with the same music), it seemed to me in its entirety, over very brief clips of the nine other Best Picture nominees, was I the only one who got the feeling that someone must have been pretty well damn sure that it would indeed be The King’s Speech that Steven Spielberg would ultimately announce as the winner in the evening’s final category? Hmm.

So much for the stalled bandwagon for The Social Network, which, though it picked up a few prizes—including one for Aaron Sorkin’s adapted screenplay—had a disappointing evening. His acceptance speech included a thank-you to his agents “who never blow my cover,” and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly that means. Of the major races, the closest was perceived to be between Social Network’s David Fincher and The King’s Speech Tom Hooper, but once Hooper won the Director Guild of America prize some weeks earlier, the dye was likely cast.

As for the show itself, give its two young hosts, Anne Hathaway and James Franco,  props for trying to inject some energy into the proceedings. The Oscars are trying to go young and hip, I get that. But when did sharp, self-deflating comedy become too old school (and, believe me, in an Oscar-night audience, there’s much to deflate)? You know you’re in trouble when the funniest lines are delivered in archival clips of Bob Hope, and in a brief bit of stand-up by Billy Crystal. (Hathaway and Franco opened the show much as Crystal used to do as host, by injecting themselves into a montage of nominated films and that may have been the entertainment high point.)

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Article Author: Alan Appel

Alan Appel is a veteran entertainment journalist, having been for many years the New York Bureau Chief (and occasional book reviewer) for TV Guide Magazine. That experience, not surprisingly, has given him a deep knowledge of --and strong opinions about--the worlds of television and movies. …

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