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2010 ABC Oscar Telecast: Twice the Best Picture Nominees, Twice the Hosts, but Not Twice the Value
March 8, 2010  | By David Bianculli

oscars-top-actor-leading-ro.jpgThe number of Best Picture nominees was doubled, from five to 10. The running time expanded, too, with ABC's telecast running more than 30 minutes over schedule. So with Monday's Oscar telecast, if less is more, is more less?

More or less...

There's always something to complain about with the Oscars, and this year there are two major complaints.

One is with, as always, the fat. Yes, they cut down on the original song performances -- but whatever time was gained by that exclusion, was lost by an interminable dance number. Or numbers. It went on so long, it must have been more than one. And that salute to horror movies? Even Freddy would have slashed that one in a heartbeat.


Another major complaint, but one for which the program producers can't be blamed, is the predictability. Until we got to the final major award, most of the prizes went to the predicted, favored winners: Mo'Nique in Precious, Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds, Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, and certainly Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart.

But even with the Bullock and Bridges wins, their moments were preceded, and somewhat diluted, by a manner of presentation that brought out friends and colleagues for all five nominees, who took turns extolling the virtues of the actors. It was part celebration, part tribute - but also a bit creepy, like somewhat of a funeral.


And speaking of funerals, the In Memoriam section continues to be Hollywood's last, worst popularity contest. Even after you're dead, your peers get to pass judgment on you one more time, by applauding -- or withholding that applause -- as your name and image scroll by in a montage of artists who have died in the past year. I know it has to be done, and should be... but couldn't the black-tie audience be told to withhold applause until the end?


There were, however, some nice moments. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were affable as hosts, though their opening comedy bit seemed to single out everyone in the first five rows. It was nice when Barbra Streisand was able to present the award for Best Director, which went, for the first time, to a woman -- Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker. But that, too, seemed predictable. Hence the pairing.

It was nice when Tom Hanks, announcing the winner of Best Picture, noted that the last time there were 10 nominees in that category was 1942, the year Casablanca won. Good bit of trivial. Yet much less trivial, but nonetheless ignored, were the names of the 10 films up for Best Picture in 2010.

They had been saluted individually throughout the evening -- but by the time their moment rolled around, around midnight, not even the movies' titles were read or displayed. Only the winner, Hurt Locker, was announced.

Something wrong there.

Two final notes, though peripheral to the telecast.


One: ABC's special Oscar promo for Modern Family was funnier than most sitcoms. They staged a quick game of Charades, in which Sofia Vergara's Gloria was trying to interpret clues thrown by her husband, Ed O'Neill's Jay.

To start, he held up one finger. "The finger!" she shouts. "The pointy finger in the sky!" Then she makes a connection:"Cloudy with the chance of the meatballs!"

Exasperated, Jay tooks at his upraised finger and says, "This means one word." Instantly, she screams, "Meatballs!"

Then, after the Oscars, there was Jimmy Kimmel Live, on which the host noted Bigelow's Best Director wn over former spouse James Cameron by calling her "the first woman ever that beat her ex-husband in front of a billion people."


Then he provided a lengthy, very funny video, in which he plays the unpopular president of the Handsome Men's Club. That one's so funny, you may as well see it for yourself. Watch it HERE.








Gregg B said:

After having set up my rabbit ears (I have Cablevision) I tuned in to one of the worst directed Oscar broadcasts.
Some examples:
The John Hughes tribute. The Brat Pack alumni come out on stage. Now you know that everybody wants to see what they look like now. We only get a long shot of the actors and a long shot of the audience during their introduction. This goes on quite awhile. Not until they speak do we get any kind of closeup.

After criticism last year that viewers at home got a delayed start on the "In Memoriam" tribute, they did it again! My daughter turned to me and said "They missed Patrick Swayze". No, he was the first picture you barely could see.

Avatar's visual arts winner waxing poetic about James Cameron while the camera focused on producer Jon Landau.

Focusing on Cameron all night except when ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow wins, which would have been really dramatic.

There were many more than I've not listed here.

Comment posted on March 8, 2010 11:54 AM

Diane Werts said:

In Memoriam also left out a bunch of people. How did they miss Farrah Fawcett? Bea Arthur? Here's the story: http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1633384/20100308/story.jhtml

(Although Ricardo Montalban actually died before last year's Oscarcast.)

Comment posted on March 8, 2010 2:05 PM

Katy said:

Who was the woman who rudely interrupted an acceptance speech given by the person who won one of the short documentary awards. She came out of nowhere and started yapping....at first I thought she was one of the producers but the way the guy was looking at her...did not seem like he appreciated her contribution.

Thought the show was too long but watched to the bitter end like I always do. Happen to like Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. Just wish there had been more surprises in the winners.

[Right on both counts: It was one of the producers, and yes, he clearly (and deservedly) resented her interruption. -- David B.]

Comment posted on March 8, 2010 4:52 PM

Mac said:

"TCM Remembers". Put that in the youtube search engine and get out the Kleenex. As one respondent put it:"No one does it with such consistency and class". No one,not even Chuck Workman,who does the Academy Award montages,does this kind of thing better.

Comment posted on March 9, 2010 8:12 AM

Eileen said:

I thought last year's show was a true snooze fest, but this year had it beat hands down.

Not to say there weren't some enjoyable moments. I truly liked the tribute to each of the Best Actor/Actress nominees by a former co-star. It was sincere and personal.

Steve Martin and Alex Baldwin were fine -- given the material they had to work with. They seemed very compatible and comfortable with each other.

Nice tribute to John Hughes. I enjoyed seeing (or what I could see of) his stars. One quickly forgets all the careers this man started, and his timeless movies with his perfect take on things will live on for generations to enjoy. Very appropriate.

However, if the Academy is so silly as to think spotlighting the likes of Miley Cyrus et al will increase the teen & 'tween demographic, please think again. Does anyone know a person that age who is going to blow off four hours on a Sunday for a random glimpse of Miley or one of the so-called "stars" of "Twilight" or "Gossip Girl"? I don't think so.

Part of the larger problem is all the hoopla leading up to the show. The insufferable Barbara Walters, the Red Carpet Yap Fest, etc. By the time things get underway each year I'm practically comatose.

And, although I'm a Time Warner Cable NYC customer, I share the rage of the NYC Cablevision viewers. For a corporation to hold its customers hostage is outrageous and unethical. I truly hope their customers remember how they were treated with such high disregard. Where is the FCC in all of this? Time Warner & Fox pulled a simiar stunt a few months back, and all that ever eventually happens is a larger bill for us. Shame.

So, all in all, way too long...

[Very, very well said. Every word. -- David B.]

Comment posted on March 9, 2010 10:22 AM

Greg Kibitz said:

Good or Bad (sadly or gladly) I fell asleep not so long after the John Hughes retrospective. Much of the early stuff I really liked, especially the hosts and presenters being all snarky, something IMO, that has made this awards show far better in the last couple years. The opening number was great, yet again, and I really like the on stage line-ups of the nominees, because, really, "it's a huge honor just to be nominated."

Of what I did see, I felt the John Hughes thing was a bit over the top, as in far too long. Not that I do not like it but with time so precious, you'd think they would have cut it a bit shorter. But still I liked it because I saw all those movies during my formative years (teens and twenties) and it was nice to be back there again for a moment or two. But really, as good as they all were, none of them were ever truly Oscar material, so it might as well have been a retrospective of TV series.

I missed all the big categories except best supporting actor (not sure why they front loaded that one) and so I also missed all the best speeches, notable shenanigans and the big in memorium faux pas. Nonetheless, it would appear there were no huge surprizes or upsets.

I'm just glad that the better stories with deep, real-world significance (Hurt Locker, Blind Side, Precious, Crazy Heart) get the prizes as opposed to the most popular at the box office (Avatar, which is big on technical and ooh's and aah's but surely lacking otherwise, unlike Lord of the Rings, which truly was iconic). And yet, as per last night, Blue Collar Jay Leno still does not get it.

Jay still wonders why the big box office draw does not win over the small, barely-no-one-even-saw's. But I guess he also wonders why the Pulitizer for Journalism doesn't go to USA Today Stories, Pulitzer for literature to Comic books or the Nobel Prize for literature to Danielle Steel or Dan Brown. As always, just because it is (uber-)popular does not mean it is good and, with Jay again winning in the ratings, the proof is right in the pudding!

(Do like the way I turned my Oscar comment into yet another anti-Leno Screed? LOL)

[Actually, I do. -- David B.]

Comment posted on March 9, 2010 11:49 AM

Greg Kibitz said:

Since you brought up funny sit-coms with your Modern Family Promo mention, I guess I have to add how The Big Bang Theory continues to mega-please week after week (other than Curb, it is the only sitcom that still makes me laugh out loud and sometimes quite uncontrollably) and even better than that lately are John Amos and Stacy Keach as the two "Old Queens" on Two and half Men. Can you say spin-off? If Chuck Lorre is again overlooked at the Emmys this year, I think I will have to begin boycotting them! Sheeeet, some of his vanity cards are better than most other shows.

[I agree. Which is why I'm relaxing my standards enough to relay your five-vowel semi-expletive. -- David B.]

Comment posted on March 9, 2010 12:03 PM
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