Wow! They actually did a pretty good job!
Ok so I'm doing what I usually do on Oscar night. I live tweeted the show, talked with half a dozen people at once, and now I'm gonna write a review of the show. It's a long night, but this review is always an interesting one because I am pretty loopy. Now, there was a lot of controversy surrounding this year's Oscars. There was the obvious and deserved #OscarsSoWhite controversy, but there was also some lesser-known controversy surrounding the lesser-known musicians nominated for Best Original Song. Anohni, the first transgender performer to be nominated for Best Original Song, was barred from performing her song at the show because of "time constraints." While I can see why they choose not to let her play as the show went on till midnight EST, she still has the right to be able to play her song in front of her peers. The Academy is not being very transparent on this issue, and but in the wake of all the clamoring about a lack of diversity from the Academy, a promise of "we will do better" from the Academy president felt very hallow to me as they are clearly saying one thing and doing another. She wrote a powerful essay on her ordeal which you can read here. But I digress. Let's talk about Chris Rock!
Chris Rock was by FAR the best host we've had of the Oscars in a long time. From the very first second of his opening monologue his jokes were on point and right to the jugular, and they made everyone in that room uncomfortable. They were also funny! He managed to somehow find a balancing line between making fun of the Oscars for their lack of diversity while make fun of everyone else for making such a big deal over it. His segment at a movie theater in Compton where he interviewed people who didn't know what films were nominated for Best Picture was a sharp statement on both how irrelevant the Oscars are to most people and how we can all find enjoyment in film regardless of what some old white guys had to say about it. I think this segment was my favorite moment of the night. Either that or the opening monologue, which was fantastic from start to finish. The only sort of cheesy bit we got from him all night involved his daughters selling girl scout cookies, and this moment felt much more like Ellen's selfie in 2014 than it did NPH's "look I got all the Oscars right because I got to see the winners before the show!" bit. As in it was a much better moment, and seeing how much money they raised, assuming they did actually raise that much money, was pretty incredible. I guess when you're a millionaire Hollywood star you walk around with hundreds in your pocket. I also wanted to give credit to Chris Rock for bringing out Stacey Dash for the official smart joke of the evening. Most of us said, "huh?" when it happened, but upon further investigation it turns out Stacey Dash once appeared on Fox News (of course) to say that we shouldn't have black history month. So to get her to come out and go against her word is actually fairly impressive, and I hope a story comes out about how that moment transpired in the upcoming days.
Another thing that surprised me but I honestly was kind of glad didn't happen was some tribute to an old Hollywood film. The lack of tributes did keep the pacing of the show pretty brisk, until we got into the second and third hour of the show. Then it really slowed down as they sped through the first 10 awards then took their time with the last few. I expected to see some half-assed tribute to Star Wars as an "apology" for not giving the film any awards, but all we ultimately got was a cameo from the three droids. Which, honeslty, might've ultimately been the weakest part of the night. But let's talk awards! I need to go to bed soon.
So let's address the elephant in the room first: Leo finally won his Oscar. Yay! And he had a great speech lined up too, pulling a Ron Burgundy from Anchorman and choosing to use his spotlight to deliver a great (and very true) message on the enviornment. Ok, now that I've talked about that and since that's all the world is going to be focusing on for the next few weeks, let's talk about other things you might not be aware of, shall we?
The real story to talk about is who won Best Original Score. Ennio Morricone. The only victor outside the top four to receive a standing ovation, Morricone is a famed Italian composer who has been composing film scores since the 1960's. He has well over 500 film credits to his name as well as an Honorary Academy Award which he received back in 2007. But, until tonight, he remained Oscarless. As an emotional and frail Morricone walked onto the stage, I too was overcome by emotion. To see this man, a man so ridiculously obsessed with his craft but never eager to step into the spotlight, finally be officially recognized for his contributions to the industry, was the only moment the entire night I was truly emotionally moved. And to see his peers acknowledge this the way they did....it was a great reminder of the good side of Hollywood, one which I desperately needed in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite and the Anohni controversy. I stood up and clapped in my apartment at this moment, as it was over 50 years overdue.
As for a few other great moments....the biggest surprise of the night for me had to be Ex Machina winning Best Visual Effects. I was happy to see Mad Max pull a Gravity and (almost) sweep the technical categories, but I can't help but love the fact that the little sci-fi film that could, a film destined to be a cult classic, can now tout an Oscar to its name. And a pretty high-profile Oscar at that. What must have happened was Star Wars and Mad Max split the Academy's votes which opened the door for someone else to steal it. And, honestly, I'm glad that it won! I know Star Wars and Mad Max got all the press for its practical effects, which of course were fantastic, but the amount of care that went into turning Alicia Vikander into Eva day in and day out (Vikander had to show up at around 4 AM every day to begin prep with the makeup crew and effects crew for the day's shooting) had gone largely unnoticed by everyone until tonight. It was almost the culmination of the fact that Vikander deserved an award for her performance in Ex Machina more than The Danish Girl from those who voted for Machina in the effects category over Mad Max and Star Wars. Wow the lines are starting to slant because I can't keep my head straight up I should probably wrap this up soon....
Let's see what else what else......oh! I overall approve of who the Academy picked for acting this year. The big surprise was Mark Rylance over Sly, which many people may be upset about but BELIEVE ME I am not one of them. I'm so glad Brie Larson won, as FOR ONCE my best performance of the year actually aligned with Academy's choice for whatever category that person was nominated for. (Leo was my number 1 in 2013, and don't forget the part where my number 1 from 2014, Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, wasn't even nominated) I also loved how the presenters, you know, presented the awards this year. From Cate Blanchett (who I met OMG OMG) walking on stage to present the award for Best Costume Design with a bunch of costumes behind her to some great tributes to the sound editors highlighting the, you know, sounds of the film, (PLEASE put that in the special features section of these films because that was AWESOME) the Academy was on point this year in acknowledging the individual departments responsible in creating a film. However while I was happy in most of the picks this year, there were a few that really pissed me off.
There were 3.5 awards that kind of got to me this year. First off, let's talk about the .5. Anomalisa. Look, I'm not stupid. I knew Inside Out was going to win Best Animated Feature. But to all of y'all saying it deserved it.....you're wrong. Just straight up wrong. Anomalisa was a VASTLY superior film to Inside Out, and it was even a better film from an animation perspective. There was no doubt it wasn't going to win, but you cannot say it truly deserved to win until you see Anomalisa. Then you can say whatever you want. I was also saddened by the fact that Mad Max won Best Editing versus The Big Short. This one I was only kind of sort of mad over since there's a great story behind the editing of Mad Max, which was done by George Miller's wife, by the way, but I still felt the editing of Big Short was far more creative. However the two awards that really got me were Best Original Song and....you guessed it! Best Director. First off, this year's Best Original Song seemed to be set up for Lady Gaga to take it with her emotional Till It Happens. However, what we got was a win for Sam Smith? Featuring a song that was, according to Sam Smith himself, written in about 10 minutes and just might be the worst song in the history of the franchise? Don't get me wrong: I looooooved Smith's acceptance speech. The speech felt particularly relevant given the controversy within the category itself, but still. Smith's performance of the song during the show was absolutely DREADFUL, and was by far the worst moment of the entire ceremony. Whereas Lady Gaga's performance was the best performance of the night. Though how the Academy actually used Dave Grohl (playing Blackbird on guitar during the In Memoriam segment) was great too, and it was about the only way I would've been happy to actually see Dave Grohl perform during the show. Though I do wish he had played Starman or Life on Mars as opposed to Blackbird, but I'll trust Dave Grohl's judgement to not play a Bowie song in that moment.
Anyway, the big disappointment of the evening in terms of awards was Alejandro González Iñárritu. Hollywood's favorite yes-man, Iñárritu became the first director in over 50 years to win back-to-back Best Director awards. And he didn't deserve either of them. I don't mean to take away anything from The Revenant, but George Miller's work on Mad Max was, like Richard Linklater on Boyhood a year earlier, just so much more meaningful than Iñárritu's work on Revenant. He didn't even bother to hide it during his introduction! During the "and the nominees are" segment, Iñárritu talked about the cinematography of the film. You know, the cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki did and not him. Just as they did last year, the Academy selected their favorite director of the year, and not the best director of the year. While I'm ultimately glad Spotlight took home Best Picture and not The Revenant, it still doesn't change the fact that George Miller was snubbed for his incredible achievement in the creation of and dedication to Mad Max. So sad.
Finally, as I said before, I'm glad Spotlight took home the ultimate prize. This is a film that needs to be watched by everyone, and if winning Best Picture makes that happen then I'm all for it. Sure, in 20 years we will likely be saying Mad Max was snubbed, but at least it was to Spotlight and not The Revenant.
Ultimately, despite the controversies surrounding it, I quite enjoyed this year's Oscars. Chris Rock was on point from start to finish with some exceptional skits and jokes, most of the musical numbers were good, and the awards were mostly on point. There were enough surprises to keep even a hardened moviegoer like me entertained, and in the end a deserving film took home the biggest prize. 2015's Oscars are a distant memory. Now can we PLEASE get Kevin Hart to host the Oscars in 2017????
My Number: 8/10 Great
Well, that wraps up my 2015 in film! Given how much work I've done over the past year, (and every year, for that matter) this moment is about the biggest moment of closure for me in any given year, as now we officially put 2015 in the books and focus squarely on 2016. Thanks for another great year here at Enter the Movies, everyone. I love all of you, and I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for film. But, as for now, it is very late, and my pillow is calling. I'll see ya next time here on Enter the Movies! DEUCES!
http://global.fncstatic.com/static/managed/img/Entertainment/chris%20rock%20oscars%202016%20reuters.jpg (Chris Rock)
http://a57.foxnews.com/global.fncstatic.com/static/managed/img/Entertainment/876/493/chris%20rock%20oscars%20girl%20scout%20cookies%20ap.jpg (Girl Scout Cookies)
http://budnews.hu/container/news/ennio-morricone-01_1451464484.jpg (Ennio Morricone)
http://www.cartoonbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/exmachina_vfx.jpg (Ex Machina)
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