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Film Critics: Today, December 11, winners from New YorkFCOnline, San FranciscoFCC, New MexicoFC, AtlantaFCC, PhiladelphiaFCC, TorontoFCA, BostonSFC. Nominations from St. LouisFCA and ChicagoFCA.

Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Academy Awards Show


It pays to have low expectations as I did enjoy last night show with a new format that looked like “Broadway meets Hollywood” at least in the beginning and in the musical segments. Hugh Jackman is really good singing, dancing and entertaining and now I’m looking forward to watch him on Broadway!!! … I’m still not sure if I would like him to host the Oscars again but definitively I will try to catch a Broadway show with him.

The new variety show format was not that bad and the idea of giving the least interesting awards by telling how a movie is made wasn’t bad at all but truth is that no matter what they try to do there are some awards that are not “entertaining” enough. Yep, I fall asleep somewhere in the middle because the show became a lot less interesting thanks to the unbelievable amount of commercial breaks (probably to set the stage for the next number) and to the unbelievable bad presentation of nominees in tiny and small screens when the big set was humungous. I do not know about you, but I definitively noticed that costume, makeup, etc nominees looked so plain in the really small screen that was the only “big” screen in the stage. This really demoted the great work that the producers and the director did to try to improve the entertaining part of an award show.

I was lucky enough to get a phone call somewhere in the show that woke me up and was able to watch live the end of the show with the major awards… so, since I taped the show I will watch again the opening (I liked a lot the opening) and whatever I missed. Then definitively I will fast forward the tedious and multiple breaks for ads, as well as some not interesting speeches.

Going back to what I saw, I found that the idea of having past award winners to present the nominees for the actors’ awards was really good. Somehow it was interesting to watch past Oscar winners saluting their peers, even when some behaved like if they were just reading the prompter, others seemed real and sincere (perhaps it was acting, but then they’re really good actors… lol!). I may be fully biased but the best was Marion Cotillard! (Of course, lol!).

One highlight of the award show was the homage to those that passed away as I cheered when Queen Latifah started to sing! That was a great choice. Speaking of singers finally it was John Legend who covered for Peter Gabriel who was an attendee and I’m not sure but I had the impression that the camera totally avoided him when his nomination was announced. Anyway the Bollywood numbers where okay and I like the song that won, but to my eyes the dancers were definitively NOT from India as they were not as amazing as when REAL Bollywood dancers do it, but I imagine that with the recession the show budget did not allowed to bring them from India and that’s a true shame.

The award show was definitively different but I wonder if different is better or not. Haven’t read a thing in the net about what critics’ and viewers think as I did want to do this post without any influence or contamination; but I will read as soon as I publish.

Let’s talk about the awards. The greatest shocker for me was Waltz with Bashir or The Class not winning but I haven’t seen Departures and definitively now more than ever is a must be seen for me; not that wasn’t before, is that in this part of the world is so hard to be able to watch and understand movies from Asia but eventually I know I will watch it and from trailers I know that is visually outstanding.

Another lesser surprise was Sean Penn winning best actor award and even him in his acceptance speech acknowledged that “he makes harder the acceptance within his Hollywood peers” but he was may favorite for the award when thinking about those actors that had possibilities and yep, liked his acceptance speech especially for whatever he can positively influence the equal rights for everyone struggle –at least in America.

The best category of the night –for me- was the best actress as not only was great to see the presenters (Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman and most of all Marion Cotillard) but greater was when Kate Winslet won the well deserved award for an unforgettable performance. Liked Kate acceptance speech but her backstage moment was a lot better with great answers to silly and good press questions. Have to say that I do agree with Shirley MacLaine when she told Anne Hathaway that she has a great voice, as that was another surprising moment in the opening.

The second best was obviously the Best Supporting Actress award with great appearances by Woopy Goldgerg, Tilda Swinton, Eva Marie Saint, Angelica Huston and Goldie Hawn saluting the nominees. Obviously the best was Woopy that was really funny. It was okay that Penelope won as I take the award more like a recognition to her mostly European work than for the role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and if you paid attention to her acceptance speech you will notice that she also thinks like me (lol!).

No surprises in the Best Supporting Actor and not particularly liked Heath Ledger family receiving the award and everyone the camera showed having wet eyes. I was expecting a more natural and sincere emotional moment like in the Golden Globes or other awards where Christopher Nolan received the award in Ledger’s memory.

Liked the way they presented the screenplay categories and I’m so glad that Milk and Dustin Lance Black got honored with the award and not WALL-E. By the way, I do not know about you but for me the presentation of the animation segment and the nominees for best animated movie was a terrible display of what could have been a great showcase for technology advances in animation. That was really bad.

As expected Man On Wire won the best documentary and the only interesting part of this category presentation was seeing Jennifer Aniston presenting and the camera insistently going to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt – is absurd what they will do to promote actors’ personal life gossip. Oops! Aniston did animation, not documentary... but you get what I mean!

By now most of you know that the big winner of the night was Slumdog Millionaire that won almost –if not all- the awards that was nominated for. From the Red Carpet show the only moment that gave me a true warm smile was when Ryan Seacrest interviewed the kids that looked cute in their formal attires but better was the answers they gave to the always dumb questions Seacrest asks. The movie winnings were expected when all the Guilds honored the movie, so no surprises here.

I think that I will not post the winners here; I want to keep the winners post “clean” so I’ll do another post and rename this one to reference only the show broadcast.

So, that’s it. The show in general was entertaining for me and now the challenge for 2010 is to find a way to have LESS breaks for commercials and to make interesting/entertaining the not major awards to keep the show even without ups and downs and eliminating awful major production flaws that demerit the total effort to improve the show.

The American award season might be over, but we that follow the world cinema know that the current award season has still some award shows to come from countries like France, Italy and others. So the fun is not over yet.

Cheers!

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