2010 Oscars: Classic Hollywood vs. Hollywood Extravaganza

As a screenplay writer, naturally the Oscars always interest me.  While I enjoy the beautiful gowns, the glamor and the glitz on the red carpet of this wonderful black tie gala, my interest always begins with a professional curiosity and respect for every aspect of film making.

So now, the 2010 Oscars have come and gone, and even though the producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic promised (we) the audience a “fast-paced Hollywood extravaganza full of unusual gems,” I am wondering if some of you are still looking for “unusual.”

Admittedly, I was a little skeptical of this years show, given the fact that Shankman and Mechanic forewarned us about their cutting down long montage segments and, “snappy formats.”  Au contraire… the producers took a step back to classic Hollywood, and gave us a slower-paced, less complicated show.  But “Unusual gems,”  “Hollywood extravaganza?”  That might be stretching things just a bit.

The opening fanfare with co-hosts Steve Martin and Alex Baldwin was like the remake of an old MGM musical as the two men inside a huge silver globe,  came down onto the stage strutting past a group of showgirls waving feathered fans.  Martin and Baldwin delivered a fair enough moderation of the evenings events, with the expected humorous banter and ridicule between the two hosts.  Of course, both Martin and Baldwin took a stab at nearly everyone in attendance–to include themselves.  It was quite an evening for roasting.   I particularly enjoyed catching some of the actors obvious irritation with some of the slams coming from the co-hosts as the camera panned the audience.

It isn’t that this years Oscars were disappointing, but most of the wins were very predictable.  I am personally very glad that Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock took home the best actor and actress awards this year, and I was touched by screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher, who won the best screenplay for Precious, as he fought back the tears and  said, “This is for people who work on a dream every day — all the precious boys and girls out there.”

The one real surprise of the night was history-making Kathryn Bigelow’s best picture win for The Hurt Locker over her ex-husband, Avatar director James Cameron!  Even more surprising was the very sterile, anti-climatic way Tom Hanks announced the winner.  I found myself asking my daughter, “What did he say?  Is this the best picture winner?”  It happened so fast, there was no time for pondering.  It would have been nice for the cameramen to pick up Cameron’s expression as this was announced.  He had to have been surprised.

As far as the entertainment end of things, James Taylor’s appearance who sang in memory for those who have passed away in 2009 was touching.  The tribute to horror movies was nothing short of horrible, and words fall short for the interpretive dance troupe that tried to creatively interpret something relevant about each movie.  Here’s a news flash:  It’s never a good idea to insert an interpretive dance number, especially at the end of a show.  Aaaack!  I am still wondering why “live” performances of the best songs were completely omitted from the show?s

I do know that Shankman and Mechanic had their work cut out for them, since the awards over the last two years set a record low for Oscar telecast in television history.  Whether or not they successfully brought those ratings up or not, remains to be seen, but it is clear that this year’s show had some serious challenges.

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