What is it with Oscar? It’s the little engine that cannot get it right. Chug a chug chug, it’s the show that no matter what wheezes down the track. Sometimes it takes the bend too quickly, sometimes, as it did last night, too safely, but it just never ever quite cruises successfully to its destination. Clang, clang, clang went the trolley, hitting the perfect speed only one time during the entire long ride to the inevitable Twelve Years a Slave win (more about that in a moment) when Pink, pretty not in pink, hit the right note in her send-up to Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow in celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of film-classic The Wizard of Oz.
This year’s Oscar conductor, the sometimes acerbic, always deadpan daytime diva Ellen DeGeneres, who, by the way, wore her evening tuxes better than any man in the room, should stay in daytime, which suits her better. While the glam kings and queens vied for uber-Hollywood sophistication with DeGeneres at the helm, it too-often felt like they were overdressed for Ding Dong School at The Dolby Theater (if you’re too young to remember Ding, Dong School, look it up online).
With men, and DeGeneres, dressed like porters in a train’s club car (Matthew McConaughey, you can wear anything and clang, clang, clang goes my trolley) and the women bedecked and bedazzled to bland perfection, I wasn’t hungry for a pizza, which Ellen served up in true porter’s fashion, but rather for a blemish, a blotch, a bump on the track of the show, but alas, we were on the Oscar train. As I said, the little engine that never seems able to make it along its track just right.
But I’m happy that at least The Oscar’s had the good sense not to have the frozen faced one-time Hollywood legend Kim Novak present the award for Best Animated Feature to Frozen. Nice to see Miss Novak, but question: Your first appearance at the Oscars in a gazillion years, and, what, you could not afford a dress? OK, I’ll let it go…let it go…let it go…tra la la.
As to the awards themselves, no surprises here, and that’s a BIG problem for The Oscars. First, by the time we get through the long award season, we’re numb. Who cares? Oscar? So! And two, by the time it gets to The Oscars we pretty much know the winners. Is it time for the Academy to change the show’s date? Change, something, please.
There was delicious innovation in films this year: Gravity brilliantly used new technology in an appropriate way. Spike Jonz’ screenplay for Her was a fresh idea and deserved its win. 12 Years a Slave told a previously untold story, but sadly focused yet again on the theme of the sadistic slave owner and the brutality that he inflicts on his poor slaves. The cruelty displayed in this version, in fact, so-over-the-top, even if truth, that it sickened, losing the strength of its character-driven story to apology. Perhaps, it is time for filmmakers to build a new track. When does Hollywood stop clinging to stories that massage their social venue and get back to what it used to do best: simply tell a story?
And speaking of simple: While Pharrell Williams’ Oscar nominated song Happy from Despicable Me 2 didn’t win the best, it clearly was the tune everyone was singing, dancing out of The Dolby Theater happy the long night at The Oscars was over. And therein lies a lesson for Oscar: Keep it simple, but please, not stupid, and short.