THE 82ND ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS (TV) (Hamish Hamilton, 2010) ***
This year's Oscar show was not exactly inspired (with rather sparse input from hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin) but quite tolerable altogether. As such there was little novelty (surprisingly, the individual presentation of the nominated songs was dropped but, then, there was still the usual ostentatious dance number which tried to 'illustrate' the nominated scores – the one for THE HURT LOCKER was particularly idiotic!), and the embarrassing display of reverence for the acting candidates (though this time it was restricted to the leading roles) from last year was reprised. Though appropriately featuring the accompaniment of The Beatles' track "In My Life" (beautifully played on guitar and sung by James Taylor), the "In Memoriam" section was not as moving as that of previous shows (due to the fact that, thankfully, no true cinema giant passed away during 2009); the individual tribute to John Hughes – by several of the (grown-up) actors he had honed – was an unexpected but pleasant surprise as was the presence among the audience of Lauren Bacall and especially Roger Corman (recipients of an Honorary Oscar in a smaller-scale ceremony held back in November). The apologetic ode to Horror movies really came out of nowhere and, despite the obvious inclusion of clips from beloved classics and popular modern fare, mostly stuck out like a sore thumb! Again, none of the 'Thank You' speeches were particularly stirring – though Jeff Bridges dedicated his victory to his late parents, Mo'Nique acknowledged Hattie McDaniel (who had set a precedent with the first black win back in 1940), and costume designer Sandy Powell saluted those of her field typically involved in projects boasting contemporary settings (which she readily admitted were seldom recognized by the Academy). With respect to the results, apart from the AVATAR fiasco, the only real unforeseen victories were those of the Best Adapted Screenplay (won by PRECIOUS, complete with pretentious and baffling subtitle, rather than UP IN THE AIR) and Best Foreign-Language Film (Austrian Michael Haneke's highly-touted THE WHITE RIBBON missing out in favor of the Argentinian entry THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES). Typically, the night culminated with the Best Actor, Actress, Direction and Picture statuettes – all of which saw the winners venting their elation uninterrupted; though it was a given that Kathryn Bigelow would triumph (and receive a well-deserved standing ovation into the bargain) over her ex-husband James Cameron, thus awarding a woman director the first Oscar after 82 years, this became even more obvious when Barbra Streisand turned up to present that particular category. In the end, while hardly memorable, the show emerged (as ever) to be worth a watch for hardened movie-buffs.
- Mar 13, 2010
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