Monday, February 27, 2012

Silence is Golden: The 2012 Oscar Show.

I find each year that I anticipate the Oscars with a mixture of excitement and dread, with dread most often winning out, like during last year’s debacle. We were clearly heading for a fresh debacle again this year, until obnoxious fratboy douchebag Brett Ratner saved us all from the Oscar abortion he and Eddie Murphy would have wreaked upon us by speaking the stupid words: “Rehearsals are for fags.” Quite apart from the flaming homophobia is the fact that rehearsals are for PROFESSIONALS!

Plus the very idea of an Oscar show produced by one homophobe and hosted by another makes about as much sense as having me produce the Superbowl. Not just the half-time show, the whole shebang. (Having never watched a Superbowl, I’m not really certain just what the hell goes on besides a violent sport for aggressive teenage boys designed solely for the purpose of manufacturing warriors to be America’s cannon fodder. You think I’m joking? I’m not.)

But once the Fratboy Alliance shot itself in Brett’s mouth, we were spared, and then in rode Brian Grazer and Don Mischer to save us. They persuaded Billy Crystal to return and demonstrate a smoothness and skillful professionalism that could make Bob Hope look like a bumbling amateur. You know, like James Franco. And we were treated to a night that celebrated Art for The Artist's sake. Or as MGM might have put it: “Ars Gratia The Artist.”
I'm glad Billy didn't dress like Oscar.

Now let’s pick apart the show just for some fun.

In the opening filmed piece, when George Clooney was smooching Billy Crystal, all I could think was that Billy’s character back on Soap would have been in Heaven!

Was there anything at all in Billy’s filmed opening piece (Gee, the exact same sort of Billy-enters-the-films montage he used to do 20 years ago. How retro. Good thing Bob Hope wasn’t available.) referencing Extremely Dull and Incredibly Boring? Yes, he tossed a couple jokes its way in the monologue, but they were all just plays off the title. I realize that expanding the number of films nominated for Best Picture was done solely to spread the Oscar-nomination-attendance-bumps, but honestly; nominating a movie that everyone knows is Godawful, just to fill out the excessive slots and boost sales to a film that deservedly bombed makes a mockery of the entire category. Let’s face it; no one actually believes it’s a worthwhile movie. When you can’t even joke about a picture in the opening because absolutely no one at all saw it and therefore no one at all would get the joke, then it has no business being nominated for Best Picture. Billy did an extended near-joke spun from dialogue out of Field of Dreams, a picture made 23 years ago, but a joke spun from the dialogue in Extremely Cliched and Excruciatingly Wretched would have just left the audience puzzled, or worse, wondering if Eddie Murphy shouldn’t have stayed on as host.

And face facts, nothing would boost attendance for The Tree of Life.

The “Millionaires presenting each other with golden statues” line was excellent.

“You didn’t think I wasn’t going to do this, did you?” No, Billy, I was certain you’d do the It’s a Wonderful Night for Oscar production number yet again. I never for a moment expected you to innovate as you used to when we both know you were hired for the audience’s comfort food of you falling back on your tried and somewhat true old schtick. (And Billy, double negatives make for confusing, prolix sentences. “You knew I was going to do this, didn’t you?” would have been sleeker and more elegant.)

What did I just say? Extremely Maudlin and Incredibly Mawkish got exactly four words in the opening production number, one less than in its title. Warhorse got more words than that, and it wasn’t exactly a blockbuster either. (Though they were four well-chosen words. It was a good joke.)

Billy faced the same problem with song jokes for The Tree of Life. The reason they got no laughs wasn’t because they weren’t good lines; it was because only 17 people saw the movie, and only 5 of them stayed to the end.

Wow. For Woody Allen’s terminally overpraised Midnight in Paris, Billy managed the rare feat of coming up with a joke lamer than the ones in the movie itself.

Much as it pains me to write it, Billy had a problem with the musical number he never had before that I recall; he kept going flat, and he ended it so far below the pitch I wonder he didn’t bruise the top of his head as it slammed up towards the note he was supposed to hit. No singing coach has ever said “A man’s pitch should exceed his grasp.”

Tom Hanks now has a white beard? Suddenly I feel very old. Oh wait, I am.

Santa Hanks.
I shot Hugo Potter!
Most of the Academy seat-fillers are paid, but some men will pay The Academy a fortune to be chosen to fill Jennifer Lopez’s seat. The competition for that assignment is fierce!

I had no idea that Xenophilius Lovegood from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows photographed Hugo.

I’ll give them this, they waited a full 20 minutes before running the first time-wasting, gratuitous film montage. Were they afraid the show would run short? Because in 84 years, it never has yet.

Cameron Diaz: “Edith Head, the brilliant costume designer, once said: ‘A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman...’”

Jennifer Lopez: “...And loose enough to show you’re a lady.”

Judging by her admittedly stunning gown, Jennifer Lopez is no lady, though her gender is not in doubt. They had to let her frock out every time she needed to inhale.

RuPaul: “A dress should be loud enough to hide that you’re a man.”

It’s an old joke, and not mine, but they used to say that “Edith Head gives good costume.”

They gave an Oscar to a costume designer for making an entire film’s wardrobe in gray?

Widescreen TV was invented just so they could get all of Cameron Diaz’s and Jennifer Lopez’s butts on the screen at once.

(Jennifer must have dressed hurriedly. She put her frock on backwards.)
Oh puh-leaze! The amazing make-up in the Harry Potter movies is a vastly greater achievement than merely taking Meryl Streep and sticking one of Dame Edna’s old wigs on her scalp.

It takes 37 years to make-up Meryl Streep? Good Lord, she must look like Medusa when she wakes up.

Hint to Academy producers: If you have a gratuitous film montage, and it opens with Ben Stiller speaking, cut it. We don’t care about how old a bunch of celebrities were when they saw their first movies. We care about getting this dog-and-phony show over with before the bars close.

Brad Pitt, the title of the first movie you ever saw was War of the Gargantuas. It was a 1967 Japanese movie starring Russ Tamblyn (Who probably also can’t remember its title correctly, only in his case, intentionally), and it was the sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World. Every kid knows that! (Little Dougie actually sat through this gargantuan turkey in a theater in 1967 also. That makes two people who saw it. Do I hear three? — I didn’t think so.)

The first movie Brad Pitt ever saw.
I wonder which one is Angelina?

Adam Sandler, new holder of the World Record for Most Razzie Nominations in a Single Year (Congratulations, Adam, well-deserved all), was obsessed with Sir Sean Connery’s chest hair as a kid? So he IS gay! Congratulations, Adam, on your first baby-steps out of the closet. (Frankly, Adam, I was too, only in my case, it dates back to Darby O’Gill and the Little People.)

Well worth obsessing over!

Disney fun, Little people and Big Sean.

Hard on the heels of Adam Sandler’s life-altering confession of gayness, Sandra Bullock came out as Bi. I mean bilingual! Don't be un-called-for, as Dame Edna says. She spoke in two languages, revealing herself to be a cunning linguist.

Whereas what J-Lo had earlier, we assume unintentionally (Sure we do), revealed was an unmistakable sliver of aureole trying to escape her frock. It didn't get far, but it got far enough, and for the 43 straight men nationwide watching the show, it was "The Great Escape!" Straight guys are real suckers for a good aureole.

Why wasn’t The Artist nominated for Best Foreign Language Picture? Mime and title-cards are foreign languages to most Americans.

Overheard: Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich when the Iranian movie won Best Foreign Language Picture:

Newt: “Them Hollyweird commies just gave an Oscar to terrorists! That makes me so mad, I need new wife!”

The Frothy One: “How like those Socialist Atheists in California to honor heretics who eat Christian babies for brunch! As soon as I’m president, I’m nuking L.A., as God told me to.”

Octavia Spencer wore the exact same dress J-Lo wore, but the - ah - effect was so different, you couldn’t tell.

"J-Lo stretched out the butt on this gown."
Janet McTeer would have won Best Supporting Actress, except The Academy wasn’t certain she was a woman.
Damn it, Janet!

I was sorry Melissa McCarthy lost. What am I supposed to do now with all these fat-chick jokes I had prepared? Oh wait, Octavia isn’t exactly Twiggy, so I can at least use one. Here goes. Spencer’s standing ovation was not for winning the Oscar; it was an expression of how impressed the audience was that she was able to get out of her chair with the help of only two people. (That joke was supposed to say: “that she was able to get out of her chair unaided,” but damn it, look at the tape. It took two people to haul her to her feet.)

I’m not supposed to joke about Octavia Spencer’s Oscar because it was a “Great Moment in Hollywood Civil Rights.” Well it was, back when Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress 73 years ago! I’d be more impressed with “How far Hollywood has come,” if they hadn’t both won for playing house servants. Frankly, I’d have preferred seeing a black actress playing The Iron Lady, if only for how livid it would have made odious old Margaret Thatcher. In fact, what I’d really like to see would be “Medea in Tyler Perry’s The Iron Lady.”

Octavia Spencer was losing me when she started blubbering, but she won me back by keeping it short, and by not thanking God or Jesus.

The focus group sketch, though utterly unneeded in a show doomed to run overtime, was quite funny, as I would expect given it featured six of my favorite comedy performers. (Note to wonderful Fred Willard: In L. Frank Baum’s original novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the flying monkeys do talk, in fact, they’re quite chatty. My advice, Fred? Come November, vote Republican. Because if whichever far-right-wing ratbag that gets the Republican nomination wins the presidency, monkeys will fly out of every butt in America, and Fred will be in Aerial Ape Nirvana.)

Does my beloved Tina Fey have a second head growing out of the back of her skull? Oh I see. Her brilliant brain is so huge, it requires two skulls.

Three heads are better than two.

The winners of Best Editing showed how genuinely they deserved their Oscar by editing their own speech down to about 15 seconds. If only they’d edited the graphic anal rape out of The Girl with the Dragqueen Tattoo, a movie that was, remember, released on Christmas Day, the picture might have made some money. (It opened in fourth place, behind a Chipmunks sequel. Honestly, who was the moron who thought lots of people would want to spend Christmas watching anal rape and torture? “Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas. Here’s a present you can sit on!”)

The Artist lost Best Sound Editing? They were robbed!

Did Steven Spielberg have any other intentions in making Warhorse besides providing the Academy with a movie to fill out barren categories? The movie didn't even win Best Horse.

The Artist lost Best Sound Mixing? That’s it! The Oscars are irrelevant. (I can do this joke all day folks.)

I’m sure there is a difference between sound mixing and sound editing, but I can’t hear it, and my little brother was a sound mixer at Lorimar. (Or was he a Sound Editor?)

So The Muppets are back. Why? The original Muppets are all long dead, or turned into sponges and towels. These are Muppet impersonators. I would have been really glad to see them return, if I hadn’t gotten bored with them 15 or 20 years ago.
Rick Santorum warned us this would happen if we legalized Gay Marriage.

Miss Piggy: “It’s about time Spielberg left some for the rest of us. How many Oscars does he need, anyway?” Ah, Miss Couchon, is that joke left over from 1994 and Schindler’s List? You might have noticed that pretty much the only award Warhorse is taking home tonight is “Most Losses.” (In Miss Swine’s defense, I get mixed up and befuddled as well when I’m trying to perform with a man’s fist up my butt.)

Man, I hate having acrobats swinging about in front of the screen when I’m trying to watch a movie. It’s worse than teens texting. Hey cirque boys, down in front!

The Cirque Du Soleil performance was totally irrelevant, gratuitous, and out of place, especially in a show famous for always running overtime. It was also the most entertaining and amazing thing I’ve seen on an Oscar show in decades.

(If you were impressed that they’d managed to rehearse and rig that spectacle all just for The Oscars, I must tell you that they are all from a Cirque Du Soleil show that’s been playing at the Not-Kodak Theater for months now. That elaborate rigging was already in place.)

Please note, all other comic performers in America, Robert Downey Junior’s “Tibowing” gag did not get so much as a titter. That gag was two months too late. (Unless it was just that the audience hadn’t forgiven Downey for his recent crap Sherlock Holmes sequel. We can forgive the drugs, we can forgive the epic lapses in judgement and sanity, we can even forgive the Shaggy Dog remake, but we can not forgive raping the beloved Sherlock Holmes stories.) In fact, his whole “The Presenter” bit bombed pretty big.
"At what school did you learn to be a detective, Mr, Downey?"
"Elementary, my dear Holmes."

Is the nominated documentary If a Tree Falls another silent movie?

What? The documentary Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, a terrific movie that is trying to right an horrific, ongoing, monumental injustice created by, and now relentlessly prolonged by, the corrupt, uncaring and incompetent Arkansas state system of “Justice,” lost Best Documentary Feature? And to a film about a football team that merely tells the exact same cliched sports-movie plot we’ve seen a billion times before, only this time with actual athletes instead of actors? That’s just plain wrong, though as injustices go, it pales next to the ones in the great snubbed documentary. “Wow, old sports cliches, only this time for real! That’s a great movie!” Well at least the award went to cute guys, albeit one with such a potty mouth they became the only folks played off all evening.

What Chris Rock was really trying to say was that he loves working in animated movies because he can finally play someone sexually attractive.
He's funny, but I wouldn't want to shag him.

I’ve done some cartoon voices myself, and Chris Rock is 100% right; it IS the easiest job in the world. No joke. It is. Mattress testing is coal mining by comparison to voice-over work.

Gore Verbinski: “I want to thank the real world chameleon, Mr. Johnny Depp and the entire cast for coming out.” Johnny Depp and the entire cast of Rango have announced they are gay? I hadn’t heard. I’m sure it was a shock to Mrs. Depp, but welcome, folks. Hey Chris Christie, let the cast of Rango marry!

Johnny Depp and the cast of Rango.

Gore Verbinski thanked “My beautiful wife” (He being the only heterosexual who worked on the film, apparently), and when the camera showed her in the audience, well howdy, she really is a knockout. (Often times it’s just the winner hoping to charm out some post-Oscars nookie.) No wonder Gore resisted all that peer pressure to try being gay that Johnny Depp was putting on him.

You never hear Gore Vidal thank his beautiful wife.

Quite apart from how obnoxious the bit is getting, why would Melissa McCarthy want to seduce Billy Crystal? A quarter of a century ago, perhaps, but now? And when George Clooney and Brad Pitt are both in the building, not to mention Jean DuJardin, who is a pretty tasty morsel himself, and never talks over you? Billy’s jowls these days are as large as her legs.

Who asked Ben Stiller to present? Didn’t they learn their lesson last year, and the year before, and the year before? Are they operating on the theory that, if they keep booking him, one time, far, far in the future, he’ll actually be funny, even if only accidentally?

About the Special Effects nomination for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, viewed in conjunction with once again, no acting nomination for Andy Sirkis: Does the Academy think Andy is just a special effect? He’s a real actor, and a damn good one.
Andy Sirkis is not a "Special Effect".

Rob Legotto said that the experience of winning an Oscar is really underrated. No it’s not.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around Jonah Hill’s nomination. What were they thinking?

Nick Nolte was at a distinct disadvantage in the Best Supporting Actor category, even to Jonah Hill; the only people who saw Warrior were his immediate family. If only they’d done it silent, and in black & white. (In the audience, Nick looked better than he has in years, and not in a had-work-done way either. More of a cleaned-up-his-act way.)

Can’t make a joke here; Christopher Plummer’s Oscar is so totally deserved, and he is one of the finest actors alive. (In my mind’s ear, I imagine Jonah Hill grumbling about “That fucking old fart taking my Oscar! Hey Grampa. Do you know how much weight I lost for this role? DeNiro and Christian Bale told me, the secret to dramatic acting is dramatic weight changes. What did you do? Smooch some guys.)

This old dude is a really good actor, man.

What does Christopher Plummer call Betty White?


Now I could hear Kenneth Branagh in my mind’s ear also: “Okay this time, Plummer, but after you’re dead, I’ll win an Oscar for playing YOU! Ha!

Odd audience shot of Max Von Sydow during Plummer’s speech; he was squirting Holy Water at Plummer, while chanting: “Foul demon from Hell, in Jesus’s name I command you to be gone!”

Max Von Sydow takes the spolight.

Did the President of the Academy say anything interesting? Because that looked like something I could fast-forward through and make up a little time. No? I thought not.

When The Artist won Best Musical Score, somewhere, what’s left of Kim Novak exploded. Bernard Herrmann, up in Music Heaven, took a bow. (And honestly, Ludovic Bource really should have thanked Bernie, for providing the perfect “sample” to fill up the spot he couldn’t come up with music for himself. The next winner up thanked Jim Henson, and he’s just as dead as Bernie.)

Kim Novak enters to Oscar-winning music from The Artist.
(Vertigo is one of the best movies ever made.)

There’s a big irony lurking somewhere in Best Music being won by a silent film.

Will Ferrell presenting with Zack Galifanikis? They should call them: The Agony and the Ecstasy.

We got about 7 seconds each of the two nominated songs. Why on earth didn’t they do that the year It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp won? It was that “song,” that inspired people to bring back silent movies.

They had “usherettes” passing out popcorn free to audience members to help capture the movie-going experience. Fail! You not only can’t get popcorn free at the movies, but you usually get about 15-cents worth of popcorn for $5. And three-dimensional popcorn is another $10. (You have to wear special glasses while you eat 3-D popcorn.)

A bunch of former members of The Groundlings won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar? I love that! I was proud for the whole LA. Improv community, a community from which Little Dougie emerged. (Though he was never with The Groundlings.)

Hold it! The bald winner who is doing the hilarious, spontaneous lampoon of Angelina Jolie’s display of - well - ego, is Jim Rash from NBC’s Community! How do you win an Oscar and then go back to playing a role smaller than Chevy Chase’s? Congratulations, Jim, really. (Though if I wrote a movie for George Clooney, I’d have him kissing ME!)

When Jim left the stage, Mrs. Pitt looked strained trying to pretend she was a “good sport,” about being wordlessly, perfectly skewered. The genuinely humorless always give themselves away with their painfully-forced smiles.

Michel Hazanavicius (Try saying that five times fast. Hell, try saying it one time slowly) was nominated for writing The Artist? What a slipshop job he did. The sloppy man wholly forgot to write the dialogue.
"Dialogue is for pussies!"

Woody Allen won Best (semi-)Original Screenplay for that limp puddle of wishful thinking, recycled earlier, better Woody Allen screenplays, and artistic masturbation, Midnight in Paris? Yikes! I had no idea that the entire Writer’s Branch of the Academy liked to imagine Gertrude Stein agreeing to read their novels after 25 seconds acquaintance, and then loving their work. The movie is a dim quasi-remake of some of Woody’s earlier movies, only not as well-thought-out, and not nearly as funny. For my thoughts on this travesty in more depth, read my previously-posted review of Midnight in Paris by clicking here. (Now if he'd titled it Plastered in Paris, I'd have been hooked, or at least plastered.)

If we all didn’t know that one of Woody’s most-lasting pretentious affectations is his refusal ever to attend an Oscar ceremony, I’d have thought he stayed home out of shame for his being nominated, and worse, winning, for a screenplay he must know is far from his best work.

Why did they even bother to put in the montage clip with Edward Norton? He not only couldn’t complete a sentence; he couldn’t even manage a dependant clause. I don’t think he got out an entire prepositional phrase. He hit a new high in inarticulateness. The Groundlings would eat him for lunch.

It was great to see that Doug Trumbull won an Oscar for his amazing career achievements. Too bad he wasn’t deemed important enough to receive it on the actual show. It’s an award and an insult at the same time.

I found it ironic that the presentation of the awards for shorts seemed to go on forever.

I have no idea what God is the Bigger Elvis is about, but the title alone will keep me from ever seeing it. [TUESDAY ADDENDUM: I now know that God is the Bigger Elvis is about Delores Hart's journey from being a romantic co-star of Elvis to wasting her life, ah, I mean "finding her calling" as a nun. Now I REALLY won't ever see it. Yuck!]

I’m sorry, but there’s just no way around the fact that Melissa McCarthy had a very hard time getting the winner out of the envelope because her fingers were simply too darned big to get in. Melissa, that’s what we term "a wake-up call."

Going to commercial, the voice-over announcerette said of the races for Best Actor and Best Actress that there was “no clear favorite.” Excuse me? Jean DuJardin danced into that ceremony already having won the Best Actor Awards from The Screen Actor’s Guild, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Hollywood Film Festival, the Golden Globes, the European Film Awards, the Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTAs, and the Australian Film Awards. He’s won so many Best Actor awards for this movie that last week, when he didn’t win the Cesar Awards in France, it made headlines. That, my darlings, is what you call a “clear favorite to win.”
By this point, Jean DuJardin has become very casual about all his awards.
This is the same outfit Jennifer Lopez wore to the Oscars last year.

As for Best Actress, Viola Davis and Meryl Streep have been in a two-woman race since the nominations were announced. But when Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress, Viola Davis’s shot vanished, as the old white men who vote these awards were not going to give prizes to both of them, so from that second on, Meryl was in like Flynn.

This year, the Best Direction is “Back to pre-1929,” though I still like “Up” and “West.” (Sorry Marty. We love you. Keep at it.)

Did they really make The Artist as a silent just to hide their thick, unintelligible French accents? It's got to be the only French movie ever shot entirely in Hollywood. I've been entirely shot in Hollywood myself, times beyond number, but I'm not French (Well, I'm a teeny bit French on Daddy's side, but not so you'd notice, I hope.)

Insulting to the winners as I feel shunting off the Governor’s Awards to an unbroadcast ceremony is, this time it at least spared me from having to watch Oprah Winfrey get the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and listen to her entire self-tribute, I mean acceptance speech. By the way, Special Oscar winner make-up artist Dick Smith is a genius.

Esparanza Spaulding, the singer during the In Memoriam montage, was very impressive. Oh, not her singing, though that was very nice (and on-key, not like some Oscar hosts I could mention, Billy), I mean her gigantic Afro. That hair was more retro than The Artist. I’ve never seen an Afro that huge, not even when they were in style, not even on Bob Hope 40 years ago while doing a pathetically lame “comedy” sketch about “those wacky hippies.” I saw the original production of Hair, and not even in that cast back in 1968 was there to be seen an Afro so momentous. You could lose your keys in there. Frankly, it was upstaging the dead celebrities. How does she wear a hat?

In Cliff Robertson’s moment in the montage, did they use a clip from his Oscar-winning performance in Charly? No, they went with him delivering a comic book banality in Spiderman. Classy.

[LATER ADDENDUM: Ken Levine pointed out in his online review, and I am embarrassed not to have noticed, that the great Harry Morgan was shamefully omitted from the Dead Folks Montage. Well, it's easy to see why the Academy didn't deem him worthy of notice, given his tiny career, a mere 57 years in the business, only appeared in around 95 movies - and that's not including the dozens of TV shows he was on as a guest, and as a regular, and his huge stack of TV movies. Nor did Harry ever work for any major directors of note, except that is for Stanley Kramer, William Wellman, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, John Ford, this list goes on, and his many co-stars include such minor talents as Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, Spencer Tracy and Marlon Brando. Just nobodies. So it's easy to see why the Academy felt free to snub him while honoring that giant of the motion picture industry, Steve Jobs. Shameful, Academy, shameful.] 

I noticed tonight, and also a couple weeks ago at the BAFTAs, that someone had clearly told the audiences not to applaud their favorite dead people during the montage any more as:

1. It was turning the In Memoriam segments into an unseemly popularity contest, with folks (like me) noting who got the louder ovations, who got the smaller, and who got none.

2. It sometimes sounded like they were applauding that the person was dead, especially with agents and producers.

3. It was getting to be insulting to the lesser-applauded folks, who are, after all, just as dead.

So shushing the audience there was definitely an improvement.

Or maybe the house was so transfixed by Spaulding’s ridiculously humongous hair they never even noticed who was being projected above her.

Goodbye Jane Russell, Hal Kantor, Farley Granger, Peter Falk, and Liz Taylor. I loved all of you, a couple of you repeatedly. Thanks for dropping by earth. [You too, Harry Morgan.]
Stars don't come bigger than Liz Taylor, nor more often.

Gabourey Sidibe (in a pointless, talking heads montage): “I don’t get to see enough of myself.” Darling, have you thought of buying a wider mirror? Or try using three mirrors side by side in a curve, like the old Cinerama process. You can see enough of yourself if you try. I know, because I’ve seen a whole lot more of you than I really want to. (I’m sorry, but if she’s going to serve up the straight lines on a platter like that, what else can I do?)

Nice to see Patton Oswalt in a montage. I wish he’d get famous enough to be asked to host. The man is smart and funny, and unlike Billy Crystal, you wouldn’t have to worry that he won't live through the entire ceremony. (Zack Galafinikis is also smart and funny, but it’s hard to imagine him doing anything as conventional as Oscar hosting.)

I confess that for personal reasons (I have inside information that Gary Oldman is one really swell human being), as well as my own deep respect for his great talent, which frankly is not exactly stretched or challenged by playing Commissioner Gordon or Sirius Black, I would have liked to have seen Gary Oldman win for his performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Tinker, Taylor, Jedi, Spy, but this was the “no clear favorite’s” year, and Jean DuJardin was not to be denied by actors who, in Norma Desmond’s words: “talk, talk, talk!” He won for a role where he never even bothered to learn his lines, just like Marilyn Monroe. Also like Monroe, the man is easy on the eyes. And frankly, he doesn’t just look like Gene Kelly; he dances every bit as gracefully and amazingly. Jean darling, drop by Morehead Heights sometime, and we will French.
He won an Oscar and a dog!

Jean, whom it is just about impossible to dislike (Really, America hasn’t embraced a Frenchman so warmly since Lafayette. That, kiddies, is charisma!), said that at the first Academy Awards, apparently hosted by Little Dougie (the other Little Dougie!), tickets were $5 and the ceremony lasted for 15 minutes. “How times have changed.” Well, when you work that out, it came to $3 a minute, so times haven’t changed all that much. At that rate, a ticket to this ceremony would run about $540.  (OK, my math is all wrong. But I know that 2+2=22.) (Little Dougie says it works out to 33 cents a minute, so this year's ceremoney would come to $146. OK, times have changed.)
Jean et la Plage.

I found myself wondering, around the time DuJardin was charming everyone within eye or earshot, if Steven Spielberg was even still there. By this point, the odds on Warhorse winning anything were even lower than those of Incredibly Blah and Amazingly Meh, although it still had one small shot, if it were finally revealed that Spielberg’s titular horse was yet another amazing performance by Meryl Streep. If she could play a bitch in The Iron Lady, she could play a horse too. What’s one more accent to Magical Meryl?

Why wasn’t Glenn Close nominated for Best Actor? Actually, why was Glenn nominated at all? A bizarre performance in a weak, half-baked excuse for a film. She was Close, but no cigar. And frankly, I can’t believe anyone would ever be fooled into thinking she was a man. Her Albert Nobbs seems like the distaff version of “Emily Howard,” the “Rubbish Transvestite” David Walliams plays in Little Britain, who flounces about in Victorian frocks endlessly announcing “I’m a lady. I do lady’s things and ... shit,” while never for one instant fooling anyone but himself.

Viola Davis is a terrific actress, but when they spoke the words “The winner is Octavia Spencer,” her chances this year ended.

When Colin Firth said: “Meryl, we were in Greece, we danced, I was gay, and we were happy,” all I could think was that she must get awfully sick of men saying that exact same sentence to her over and over through the years, although they usually spell it “grease.”

I’d have loved to see Michelle Williams win for playing an actress who was never Oscar bait herself (Much like Martin Landau’s fully-deserved Oscar for playing Oscar-repellent Bela Lugosi), but this year, Gentlemen Preferred Meryl.

Meryl once again proved what a great actress she is by her nearly-convincing performance as “Shocked Actress.”
Lucky Meryl! What a prize!
And the Oscar is nice too.

For the record, it was during Meryl’s standing ovation that the show officially went overtime. Fortunately I had brains enough to set the DVR to record the show following it, so I got the last part. I’ll give them this, they only ran over by 13 minutes, which for an Oscarcast, is almost running short. If they had deep-sixed the talking heads montages and the Muppets, they’d have come in on time for the first time in history. Oscar is 84. He can’t stay awake late anymore.

Well, Meryl has now got a doorstop to go with her bookends. She’s probably really good in this movie, but there’s no way I could stomach two hours on that horrifically evil bitch Thatcher.

Meryl is such a pro; she not only has that false-modesty thing down pat, but she does entertaining acceptance speeches as well, and she knows when to get off. It’s impossible not to like her just as it is with Jean DuJardin. Maybe that’s why she won; the Academy was impressed that someone so likable could be so persuasive as someone so loathsome.

Tom Cruise awarding Best Picture? Wouldn’t he be more appropriate presenting Best Short Subject? He had to stand on a box or the Oscar would have towered over him.

Tom referred to the Best Picture nominees as nine reasons we love to go to the movies. In point of fact, only 3 of them are reasons to go to the movies. 3 of them are reasons to be glad we waited for the DVD, so we have a fast-forward button, so we didn’t blow $10 on it, and so instead of having to walk out, we can just hit “Stop.” And the remaining 3 of them are reasons to read a book.
Mr and Mr Jean DuJardin. I have no idea who that beard he identified as his "wife" was.
I don't know The Artist, but I know what I like, and this is it!

Just think of all the idiot young people out there who refuse to watch any black & white movies, let alone silent movies, who will be passing up The Artist for no good reason. The laugh is on them this year.
I can't wait to see the Technicolor remake in THX Surround Silence.

All-in-all a pretty good show as Oscarcasts go, a vast improvement over last year, when we all felt like cutting off an arm if we could just escape that way. For the most part I was happy with who and what won, and Billy Crystal showed how it’s done. I hope James Franco was watching intensely. Yes, James, it LOOKS easy with a pro like Billy, but it takes skill acquired over decades coupled with inborn wit. It's not a job for dilettantes. Although the monologue was spotty and the musical opening number self-derivitive and rushed (and, I'm finding online, his Sammy character that he used to do with no problems on SNL regularly 27 years ago, is now offending people.) Billy ‘s material through the rest of the show was solid, and there was just the right amount of him. It was the best Oscar hosting since the last time Steve Martin hosted solo. And Billy proved again that there is no earthly reason to have two Oscar co-hosts.

Mark my words, two years from now, half the movies out will be in black & white, and THX Surround-Silence. Of course, they’ll still be in 3-D.

Somewhere, Norma Desmond is saying: “I told you so.”

All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my martini. Cheers, darlings.

An artist, but not The Artist.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Barry Day

This sketch was done a month ago.
It's Barry Humphries's 78th birthday. The day we all give thanks that this great comic genius is still among us, still working, still sharing his genius with the world. Why, in the December and January just past he starred in a London panto, playing two highly energetic shows a day for five weeks in Dick Whittington.

This is the program for Dame Edna's Christmas Panto that Adina, an Absolutely Fabulous London possum friend of mine sent me.
She was lucky enough to see three performances, and even get called up on stage by Edna herself.

Do you know any 78 year olds who are getting dragged-up in hot costumes and doing two, looooonnnnnng shows a day, involving singing, dancing, running about, performing slapstick comedy, flying in from the rafters, and stunning audiences with their genius day after day, week after week?

But I have been celebrating Barry's birthday in a legal manner, and I'm really too lazy now to write another tribute to this, the man I love most of all, so here's a link to a prevous birthday tribute I wrote of him, and here's some lovely pictures of Barry and his divine dame.

Edna provided every panto-goer with these lovely Edna 3-D glasses to watch the Finding Nemo 3-D film that was part of the show. (Barry is the voice of Bruce the shark in the Finding Nemo movie and the Finding Nemo ride at Disneyland. He's a theme park attraction!) Adina kindly sent me a lovely pair of them, so I am always the most-stylish person at the 3-D action movies.
Any excuse to look again at Emily Perry as Madge Allsop is a treat. Emily was in her 80s when she got cast as Madge Allsop, Dame Edna's silent, sullen sidekick, and suddenly this little old lady who had been in show business at the low ends, much of it teaching dancing to children, all the way back to World War I, became a star, and traveled the world making people laugh. I was lucky enough to meet her twice, and a sweeter, more darling woman never drew breath. Her smile could light up a room. She lived to be 100.
She will always make me smile.
Barry's creation has become part of the culture. Knowledge of Barry's creations can help when you're in Jeopardy.

I don't know art, but I know what I like.

This was the night Little Dougie first met Barry Humphries, forever one of the happiest nights of his life. That's Christy Kanen wearing Chevy Chase's name badge. Little Dougie met Madge that night too. Edna threw those gladdies. When Barry signed this photo, months later, we were together in a room which had once been Gracie Allen's dressing room, Hallowed Comedy Space. Adina took this photo.
Barry was very happy the day he was "elevated" by the queen. I've been elevated by a few queens myself, and it is quite often an exhilerating experience.

When Emily Perry retired and passed away, Barry retired the role of Madge. Emily had been the third "Madge Allsop," but she was definitive, and Barry retired her number. In his hilarious 2010 book Handling Edna, Madge "dies," revealing a shocking secret set-up 19 years earlier in My Gorgeous Life. (Handling Edna, is dedicated to Emily Perry.) So now, Edna's daughter Valami is often in her shows. Poor Valmai. She's "troubled."

Wouldn't Barry make a GREAT Doctor Who?? And Edna could be his companion. It would be Absolutely Fabulous!

Cheers darlings!