Sure, The clothes were pretty, and “Slumdog Millionaire” won a well-deserved seven awards, including Best Picture, but last Sunday’s 81st Annual Academy Awards ceremony was an incredibly stupid event. These were, in fact, the stupidest Oscars I’ve seen in my lifetime, despite the fact that producers Billy Condon and Laurence Mark revamped the show to gain ratings. According to the Los Angeles Times blog Gold Derby, ratings increased 13 percent from last year, but the ceremony was still stupid. Why was it so stupid? Here are five painfully dumb features of last Sunday’s Academy Awards.
1. Hugh Jackman
While interviewing “Slumdog” star Dev Patel on “The Daily Show,” John Stewart joked that the Academy Awards must not be airing this year, or else he would have been asked to host. Let’s hope they call him again next year. Hugh Jackman certainly has a nice singing voice, which he showed off in sundry musical numbers with stars like Anne Hathaway. Unfortunately, all fell flat and were patently unfunny. He should have taken a lesson from Billy Crystal.: When hosting the Oscars over a decade ago, Crystal performed songs that may not have been pretty, but were nonetheless hilarious. There once was a time when I found Hugh Jackman to be attractive, but by the end of that ceremony, his sex appeal completely vanished, leaving behind a boring man with a vacant stare and poor comedic timing.
2. The way that the awards were presented
In ceremonies of years past, one or two presenters came on stage, announced the nominees for the award, and a clip of the film then followed. Thus, viewers who hadn’t seen the actual films could thus still enjoy the ceremony and get at least a general idea of the nominated films and performers. But this year, the Academy ditched the film clips in favor of something far more tedious. Instead, for the major awards like Best Actor, five winners from previous years came onstage and presented a speech to each of the five nominees. On the slight chance that one of the Oscar producers’ children happens to attend UCSB and read Artsweek, I’ll address the producers directly; I do not care about any of these actors/writer/directors/etc. on some deep human level. I don’t want to watch Penelope Cruz being feted with a glowing, heartfelt speech. Watching strangers give touching speeches to each other is generally very boring – haven’t you ever attended a wedding?
3. Ben Stiller’s Joaquin Phoenix impersonation
When presenting an award, Ben Stiller approached the microphone wearing a shaggy fake beard and sunglasses, just as Joaquin Phoenix did on his infamous interview with David Letterman about a week ago. Phoenix made an ass of himself during that interview, but many on the Web are suspecting that he is simply playing an Andy Kaufman-esque hoax, and that his new attitude is all an act. So Ben Stiller’s imitation of someone to who may be playing a hoax on all of us, well… that just seems kind of stupid. Next time, pick a more challenging target to ridicule, Mr. Stiller.
4. Nominating “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and Angelina Jolie in a blatant attempt to get Brangelina to attend
5. Kate Winslet’s acceptance speech