My favorite Academy Award winners this year were Anthony Hopkins and Ann Roth.
Not that I particularly thought they were best in their categories (actor and costumes) … but because they weren’t there. That meant two fewer speeches in this acceptance marathon.
Lots of jobs have been eliminated during this difficult year, but one task was absolutely vital to our happiness. That’s the bandleader who plays music when it’s time for someone to quit talking.
This year? No leader … and no band … and no end to the speeches.
“There are so many people I have to thank,” one winner said. There may be, but he could do it later, without tying up millions of people’s time. This is why Hallmark makes those pretty little cards.
Another said, “There’s a lot of people to thank, but I’ll get there.” He did … eventually.
Certainly, there were some good speeches. Tyler Perry’s talk (accepting a humanitarian Oscar) was perhaps TV’s best moment of 2021 … just as his talk (accepting a humanitarian Emmy) was perhaps the best moment of 2020.
One man gave a moving account of proceeding with his movie, after his daughter (who was supposed to be in it) died in a car accident, on the fourth day of production. But that came after he had read one of those endless lists, numbing us to what followed.
And the oddest thing: The producers decided to eliminate virtually all entertainment this year – no host, no humor, no songs. (The five nominated songs, beautifully filmed, were confined to the otherwise lame-brained pre-show.) But even with that, the Oscarcast ran 15 minutes over its three-hour time.
We could blame the music trivia game that came near the end, sort of a last-minute stab at fun. But mostly, we blame winners – and several presenters – who droned.
Soome of the better moments came from senior citizens: Harrison Ford, 78, read some disparaging comments that studio executives made after screenings of his triumphant “Blade Runner”; Yuh-jung Youn, 73, (the supporting-actress winner for “Minari”) skittered through many subjects, including her delight at seeing Brad Pitt … then, walking away from the stage, locked her arm with his.
But mostly, there were dreary moments inside a gorgeous setting. And the pre-show was worse.
Early in that one, an actress was asked to talk about her director, who was standing next to her. Then the director was asked to talk about the actress. Each had splendid things to say about the other. I found that to be neither surprising nor informative.
Yes, the Oscars can be saved, via brisk action: Bring back the host, the humor, the songs and, especially, the bandleader who tells people their time is up,
A few more steps: Tell presenters to stop the praise; we get too much of that from the winners …. Find out what it is that makes Halle Berry’s shoulder glow like that; then send a bottle to everyone …. Keep having Halle Berry as a presenter …. Keep giving special awards to Tyler Perry …. And next year, make sure that Lin-Manuel Miranda wins for this summer’s “In the Heights” movie. The guy raps (brilliantly) his acceptance speeches; we need someone like that.