The Oscars are a big deal in my house. When I told my mother earlier in the day that I had no plans to watch the Oscars, she actually gasped, “What do you mean? You have to watch The Oscars!” I had meant that, unlike the last few years, I had no big party plans. I would probably just watch the show in my pajamas and not have to explain myself this time when I cried a little during the cuter acceptance speeches.
I’ve suffered through a lot of poor Oscar shows. The ones that last over four hours, the ones that play the “your time is up” music just a little too soon, the cloying musical numbers, the political speeches of more humorless actors, etc. etc.
I have to say that this year was different, so much better. Did they hire an efficiency expert this year? No speeches were cut off, the musical numbers were short and actually somewhat inspired, the host, Hugh Jackman, was charming and didn’t seem to try too hard. That tactic of using five former Oscar winners to present the acting award in their own category? A wonderful idea, especially since it brought a lot of the actors genuinely to tears. Is it possible that watching Anne Hathaway tear up at the novelty of Shirley MacLaine calling her an excellent actor was actually more moving than if she had actually won? Anne would probably disagree with that but still… each actor category took their time and I thought it was worth it.
My only real complaint was the handling of the In Memoriam segment, where the cameras swooped in and out, the names of those who have passed in 2008 blurring and going in and out of focus. Although I loved Queen Latifah’s song, the constant movement of the camera was incredibly distracting. It’s a shame, too, since I ended up too frustrated to really appreciate the burst of applause as Paul Newman’s face appeared on the screen at the end.
Still, all in all, I thought it was great, everything down to Hugh Jackman’s presentation of the “lesser awards” ie Art Direction, Film Editing, etc. And blending in past winners with the nominees for Best Picture was better than the usual fifteen Oscar montages they pile into the show.
All that in just over three hours for a change. I didn’t even mind the political speeches of more humorless actors this time. Maybe because this time I actually agree with them.