Monday, February 26, 2007

Ellen Degeneres is dreadful and other Oscar observations

Some Oscar hosts get panned for not fitting in with the event. David Letterman, Chris Rock, and Jon Stewart come to mind. Last night's performance by Ellen Degeneres was so painful because she tried so hard to fit in, hamming it up with out and out bad jokes about the attendees and silly and desperate self-deprecation. In fact, she was at times just plain awkward. When she made a crack about the diversity of the award show's attendees, it felt as if Joe Biden were up on stage. The subsequent shot of a baffled-looking Steve Carrell said it all. A few other thoughts I had about last night's show:
  • Boy do I wish Al Gore had made an announcement to run for the presidency. The stunt with Leonardo DiCaprio was pretty clever, but it would have been a real Oscar moment if a candidate announcement had been made.
  • What is Jessica Biel doing at these awards? She was on "Seventh Heaven" like five years ago, right? Does that qualify one to present an Oscar? And she was in The Illusionist. Isn't that a poor man's Prestige?
  • Jennifer Hudson's and Martin Scorcese's acceptances were surprisingly touching. Both seemed genuinely humbled by receiving the award which evidences once again that people in Hollywood put a lot of stock into the Oscar, even though a look back at past winners shows some stunning wins and some ridiculous oversights. Take the year 1976 when Rocky--definitely a good movie--won over Taxi Driver and Network--two great movies. If I were a perennial Oscar loser, I would comfort myself by reviewing the unremarkable group of winners of Oscar's recent past, like Best Actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 1998 and Best Picture Forest Gump in 1994. The Academy is not very discerning, often perferring the heart-rending to the subtle and themselves swayed by politics as much as by a good performance.
  • Speaking of Martin Scorcese, don't Hollywood actors realize how disingenuous they sound when they lavish praise on a film impresario? By the end of the night, I'd lost count of how many times someone involved in The Departed said what they wouldn't do to work with Martin Scorcese. Scorcese's a fine director, but I think I heard someone offer to give away one of their lungs to work in a movie with him. Just once I'd like to hear someone say in public what I'm sure is said quietly at many an after party: "he hasn't made a good movie in years, and he's a jerk to work with."
  • A green Academy Awards ceremony with fuel efficient limos is the height of absurdity. Can an event so prodigious and decadent really be conservationist in spirit? Okay, maybe the lights are dimmed a little and the stretch Hummers are gone, but really, the Oscars. When Hollywood actors start lobbying for mass transit in L.A. (and using it themselves!) I'll be a little more convinced.


ben said...

Since you're blogging at work, I might as well too. Thoughts:
-Ellen was truly painful to watch, but maybe it was the writers' fault? I just felt sorry for her.
-Forrest Gump, unremarkable? WTF??
-I think what you said about Martin Scorcese also goes for Guillermo del Toro. Everyone involved in Pan's Labyrinth who won an oscar began their speech by thanking him for being the greatest human being alive. Then the camera would cut to him looking kind of confused. I think this happened at least three times.
-Jessica Biel is hot, so no one cares about her credentials.

Elaine said...

Uhh, I'm not blogging at work. Shhhh.
-I haven't seen much of Ellen's comedy, so I can't say if she's woefully unfunny all the time. I guess she did seem earnest, at least.

-Forrest Gump is a fine movie, though I think there have been some legitimate criticism against it, like that the script punishes all of the liberals and glorifies the simple. It's also a little too tidy and banal, but that's not to say I hated it. I think the best treatment I've seen of a low IQ person in film and his impact upon others is Being There, which I reviewed a few entries ago. I've read some good reviews on why Peter Sellars' character is in many ways the original, better Gump.

-Agreed about del Toro.

-Tara Reid is hot, but people would question her being at the Oscars, right? right? I hope.

Chris said...

OK, so I finally have time at "work" to comment. It was a god-awful show. Nothing like a group of people in an industry that's 1) not very good and 2) not very necessary congratulating themselves on how great they are.

Ellen was also awful. Almost nothing worked for her - the shadow puppets nor the random gospel choir. And it's sad that this is the movie that Scorcese got his oscar for - at least Peter O'Toole didn't win a real one for playing himself, i.e. a creepy old man.

I was happy about Helen Mirren winning (tasetful acceptance speech, too...and not just because she's British), but I do wish that people could actually act, as in play a character rather than just impersonate. Speaking of acting, some of the worst I've ever seen was during that Oscar telecast - Maggie Gyllenhaal couldn't have cared less about technical awards and ou could tell.

Finally, one review said she missed all the excitement and lights and fireworks. The cost of being green: absolute boredom for everyone but the "stars".

Elaine said...

Haha, I just re-read your comment, Chris. I love this:

And it's sad that this is the movie that Scorcese got his oscar for - at least Peter O'Toole didn't win a real one for playing himself, i.e. a creepy old man.

We need to watch the Oscars together next year, my friend.