For the first time since I started watching the Oscars seriously around ’93, when “Schindler’s List” swept all before it, I think this year’s ceremony will be among the most predictable of them all. I wasn’t around when “Ben Hur” came out, so I don’t have a comparison (except, perhaps, “Return of The King”, but I wanted that film to win, so the point is voided) in film lore of something being almost such a certainty to win, it’s a one-horse race.
As an Aussie, I hope and pray Hugh Jackman does the business this year, as host. Given his proven reputation for hosting shows, such as the Tony’s (seriously, if I ever had to say that I had won a Tony I reckon people around the office might think I’d been eating hash-filled cookies… who calls their awards the Tonys? Oh wait, the Academy Awards are called the “Oscars”, so I guess that’s okay!) I think Wolverine will be fine. As long as he doesn’t have an on-stage appearance with Meg Ryan, I think we’ll be safe with Hugh. As long as he doesn’t try and do some sort of parody of Christian Bale flipping out, the whole show will be a classy, solidly familiar affair, with little deviation from the norm.
I read Beau’s report on why “The Dark Knight” should have been nominated, and honestly, there’s not a lot more I can add to what he’s already said, (gee, thanks Beau for stealing all my thunder!) and I think anything I do say will just be treading old ground. “Dark Knight” was not nominated, and we’ll all just have to get over it.
With “Slumdog Millionaire” as our winner (and c’mon, is anybody seriously going to try convincing me that it won’t?) and dear Meryl winning her umpteenth little statue, I’ll paraphrase Eminem a little and ask if the real Oscar battle will please stand up? Mickey Rourke will have a definite fight on his hands to win the statue over Sean Penn, and while my heart goes out to Rourke as an actor of such a trashy reputation, it’s almost with some semblance of regret (almost, I said) that he’s still a trashy actor, and the Academy won’t want somebody who can drink the entire room under the table and still have time to snort a line, up on stage come the handout. For me, I think Mr Penn will snag another gong, and perhaps rightly so. Perhaps it’s time for the white, 70’s gay man to come into the sight line of the public consciousness. We haven’t had enough of them!
Okay, political correctness aside, and I’m never known for being politically correct, this Oscar night will offer very little in the way of surprises (short of Jackman pulling out a bucket and tipping water over his half-naked, glistening, grimy body….swoon now please ladies!) and will probably go down as one of the most yawn-inducingly boring ceremonies in living memory. There’s no Roberto Benigni jumping on people and the furniture, no crying Halle Berry (please, stop the laughter), and especially no film less likely to lose than “Slumdog”. There’s no Bush to bash, the country is in the grip of post-election euphoria and slowly sliding into pre-financial depression, and I don’t think Hugh’s going to make too much of a controversial showing. After all, he’s going to want to do this again, lest they ask Steven Martin back, or worse, Letterman.
So: my picks for the winners? Heath, Mickey, Meryl, and Slumdog will all win the major awards. If Anne Hathaway ever wins an Academy Award I’ll close the book on Hollywood, and spend the rest of my life watching films from Argentina to rid myself of that mental image. Watching her is like seeing Gwenyth stealing an Oscar for “Shakespeare In Love”. “WALL-E” will win for Animated Film, and every other award it’s up for. The geek in me wants “Iron Man” to win the effects and sound categories, but I somehow don’t think it will. A more cerebral Academy will probably vote with the more “serious” films on offer.
For me, though, the hardest part of the night to wade through, regardless of the boredom or the predictability, is the speechifying. What a glorious cavalcade of poppycock, a nonsensical barrage of meaningless tripe directed at people nobody outside of the Kodak Theatre has even heard of, nor really cares about. The waffle, the glorified penance of thanking everybody you’ve ever met (no, thank you Kim Basinger) and even thanking animals (Gwenyth again, managing to squeeze her pets into a speech that bordered upon outright lunacy) to the point where I reckon the producer of the telecast must surely be squeezing his lemons in frustration. What, has that old comedy standard of the giant hook coming onto the stage to drag off a recalcitrant performer lost so much of it’s appeal it couldn’t be resurrected? Perhaps the do-gooding health and safety brigade might have something to say about a drunken Rourke slurring some abuse at those who scorned him in past years, that they’re prepared to let the hook slide? I doubt it though.
So I offer, quite unapologetically, this solution. After all, these people are professional performers, right? All the acceptance speeches should be prepared in advance, and the winner gets’ to read theirs, edited for brevity, off the magic teleprompter, ensuring a coherent, cohesive effort less likely to have old Jack Nicholson shifting uncomfortably in his chair. This way, you’d get the recipient of the award prepared for their speech, the words would flow more easily, and there’s be a lot less of the really uncomfortable moment when the music comes on and the non-actor is standing there speaking into a microphone for nobody to hear. Like that poor lady last year, who won an Oscar and had to be dragged out by Jon Stewart to give her speech because somebody in the orchestra pit got a little fidgety. Violin done up too tight, my friend?
So, in case Meryl gets up and tearfully recites her shopping list, I say: get these people to prepare their speeches, get them pre-programmed into the teleprompter, and get them off the stage a lot quicker. We want to hear who won, not hear how grateful they are about it.We know they’re grateful, I just want to know who wins next!
Yep, Danny Boyle and his crew will no doubt be sitting back on a chair somewhere tonight, preparing their victory dance and goggle-eyed stare of “oh my gaawwwwddddddd” feigned surprise, given that everybody in the entire world knows his film is going to win this year.
But for me, as a fellow Australian, I think the most poignant moment of the show will be when Heath Ledgers name is read out for Supporting Actor. That, while predictable, will most likely be the moment in which I shed a tear.
Apart from that, I think I’ll grab my Coke, my chocolate, and head to bed early. It’s about time I reaquainted myself with the latest Leonard Maltin. “Slumdog” to win.