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The Morning After: The Great, The Bad, The Undecided

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Great things about the Oscars 2012:

1. Getting an Early Start on the Awards and Saving the Best Supporting Actor for Later-The awards were being given out so fast at first, that it seemed like a sure bet that Billy would clock in at three hours He went 11 minutes over (by my watch, at least) but viewers were pulled in by the illusion that it was going fast. The producers were also right to wait to announce the supporting actor prize.

2. Presenting the Awards with Directoal Shout-Outs-Every year they seem to mix things up just a little in terms of how they present the awards. Sometimes, they show detailed clips of the editors or show us actual pages of the screenplay. This year they had the directors pay tribute to their technical staffs.

3. Jean DuJardin preserves over the Great Wall of Clooney-Score one for integrity! Pundits were predicting that because George Clooney is a lovable guy people were thinking he might just pull off a second win. I don’t doubt that George Clooney would be a wonderful guy to hang out with and, when given the right script, he’s a good actor at times. Still, is that enough to justify not one but two Oscars and might we be overlooking otherwise great guys and better actors by always pointing our cameras at Clooney? In this case, DuJardin was the victor and rightly so.

4. Three live action directors won Oscars Tonight-Because they only award one per year, there will likely be a lot of great directors who will never be awarded an Oscar, which is why it was a delightful surprise to see two directors get Oscars tonight. Gore Verbinski won in the animated category for Rango while Terry George won for best short. George is best-known for Hotel Rwanda while Verbinski is best known as the man who turned a theme park attraction into one of the most fun blockbuster franchises of recent times with the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.

5. Christopher Plummer’s Speech-Any 82-year old man who can muster up so much youthful enthusiasm for an award that’s over 35 years overdue is an inspiration. He noted he was only two years younger than Oscar

6. Billy Crystal Sticking with his Guns-A lot of people thought Crystal was outdated an urged him to do something new. I think a fresher host might have definitely mixed things up but once we were stuck with Crystal, he played the ceremony as best as he could by sticking to what he did best. I happened to enjoy the song parodies. I also thought Justin Beiber was used quite well. He might have bigger acting chops than Zac Efron.

7. Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell’s Best Song Presentation-This closely mirrors the 2004 Oscar ceremony where Will Ferrell stole the show with Jack Black during the presentation of the same category. Interestingly enough, Galifanakas’s rise to fame came through the Hangover which he got because Jack Black backed out of the movie. Todd Phillips’ stated reaction in a GQ interview: “I thought, 'F**k this f**ker. I'm going to make a new Jack Black out of Zach Galifianakis.” Looks like he succeeded.

8. Best screenplay not matching the winners-It’s nice when the academy can separate the best films from the best screenplays. Oftentimes, (e.g. The Social Network/King’s Speech, Milk/Slumdog Millionaire, and Brokeback Mountain/Crash) the two front-runners split the awards, but this year the Academy had enough foresight to recognize that the best two pictures weren’t especially strong in the screenplay department.

9. Chris Rock Reminding us of the Days of Edgier Hosts-Rock’s presentation for best animated film was a pretty good bit and just what the ceremony needed to shake things up.

On The Fence:

1. Meryl Streep- Streep last won an Oscar two days after I was born and has since been nominated 12 times without winning. For comparison, no one else has ever been nominated more than 12 times. It was a complete shock and pleasant surprise to finally see Meryl earn her Oscar. At the same time, the reviews I’ve read have indicated that this is the kind of film I hate to see earn nominations in the best actress category: Films made solely for the purpose of winning someone an Oscar in this category. The reviews indicate that this isn’t a strong film at all, and offers little outside of Meryl Streep. Viola Davis was a strong choice too. I’m not sure if I wanted to see Meryl a 13th time so I’m on the fence here. I would have preferred to go back to 2009, and reengineered a Streep victory over Bullock if it comes down to it.

2. Woody Allen Winning-On the one hand, it did provide some diversity and it’s slightly different than some of Woody’s other films. It even looks good on paper. At the same time, does Woody need three screenplay awards? Maybe, because he’s been nominated so many times. See, I told you I’m on the fence…I can’t even complete this passage.

3. The Bridesmaids Presentation-A good occasion to have more than one presenter onstage and to also remind us of one of the year’s best films to not make the short list. I’m also pleased that they knocked all those pesky short film categories out in under five minutes. I just personally don’t find double entendres about penis length humor that funny.

4. Brett McKenzie-I’m a Flight of the Concords fan, but I can’t help but feel that in this case it was a little bit of a matter of choosing the more popular guy as of now. I don’t think Brett is comparable to Sergio Mendes as a musician. On the plus side, Brett was very eloquent backstage.

The Bad:

1. Old-Timey Montages-Everything they put in the show means they have to take something out of the show to keep it from being overlong and losing the audiences. Ideally, a montage-heavy Oscars show should only be used every few years when they hit some anniversary as when they used montages for the 75th Anniversaty Show in 2003. In most other years, it’s out of context, and highly repetitive. If you’re familiar with movies (or remember last year’s ceremony), you’ve seen these scenes before already and if you’re not, you probably won’t care. The montages might serve better use if they gave a comprehensive history of the category. The attached video, by an ametuer video compiler on youtube, would be a great accompaniment to an acting presentation. The Academy should look into hiring him.

2. Billy Crystal Didn’t Do Many Jokes-Where’s the typical opening stand-up bit? He might have bombed with it, but I would have at least liked to have seen him try.

3. Jessica Chastain Losing-I’m not unhappy for Octavia Spencer because she has a great personality and I feel a kinship with people who’s name starts with the same letter as mine. At the same time, Jessica had the stronger performance and also killed it in “Tree of Life” as well.

4. The Ceremony Mostly Being Preordained-Stupid guild awards and gluttonous pre-cursor awards. Without them, there might actually be legitimate suspense on everything.

5. Treating the Supporting and Lead Categories Differently-Like the 2010 ceremony, the nominees in the lead categories get to be sweet talked by the presenter while the supporting nominees get shafted. There’s nothing inherently less honorable about acting in a supporting role and it’s pretty clear that Plummer has a better pedigree than DuJardin anyways.

6. Oprah Winfrey Gets an Honorary Award-Oprah Winfrey was in one prestigious movie ever and hasn’t been associated with movies in over 25 years. Albert Finney is still around, let's honor him instead.

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