It was Mylie Cyrus’s destiny to bring hope. Rejoice, good people, that the dear Christian daughter of a one-hit wonder walks amongst us. And She shall wear hooker boots on the Barbara Walters Oscar special to Deliver Us from Eva.
It’s been a long night. I’ve been drinking since the last hour of the red carpet interviews (skipping back and forth between the Cavs-Grizzlies game), and the Academy’s generally sensible choices aren’t evoking much in the way of invective. I mean, I could feign outrage at The Golden Compass‘ absurd Best Visual Effects win, but poor, beleaguered New Line needs the love; meanwhile, the only other major “upsets” – Tilda Swinton nabbing Best Supporting Actress and Taxi to the Dark Side edging out No End in Sight for Best Documentary – are completely excusable.
If it’s a difficult evening to recap, it must’ve been a bear to live-blog, so kudos to Nick for hanging in there through the broadcast and firing off Charles Napier-infused witticisms while the rest of us struggled to remain upright. Though the broadcast ran a reasonable three hours and seventeen minutes, it felt like one of those four-hour marathons stuffed with interminable Best Song performances and uncalled for Debbie Allen interpretive dance numbers – and, in a way, wretched excess would’ve been preferable to noble boredom. For whatever reason, host Jon Stewart seemed reined in; he was funny enough in spots (the binoculars-and-telescopes montage was right up there with David Letterman’s star-studded “Wanna Buy a Monkey” audition), but the joylessness of the attendees defeated him.
With a very few exceptions, everyone looked as though they were ready to bolt the Kodak for a quick drink at the Governor’s Ball and, then, bedtime. I’d blame the recently settled WGA strike for this apathy, but something else was at play here; perhaps the dour tone of the films seeped into the would-be revelries. Even the devilish Jack Nicholson was mirthless as he lazily introduced a supremely lazy montage of every Best Picture winner from Wings to The Departed; visions of Kobe/Gasol pick-and-rolls were flickering in his squinty eyes. Or maybe that was the mescaline.
Producer Gil Cates deserves a hefty share of the blame for the listless proceedings, though his ruthless cutting off of acceptance speeches did inadvertently produce the evening’s classiest moment: Jon Stewart encouraging Once‘s adorably shy Marketa Irglova to deliver her heartfelt acknowledgments after getting rudely silenced by Bill Conti’s patchwork orchestra. It was an imperiously produced show that shortchanged one of cinema’s best years with a shrugging series of clips and uninspired bits (the nadir being Sid Ganis’s humor-challenged explanation of the Academy voting process). I imagine that Stewart will get trashed again for his performance, but if the AMPAS are truly interested in remedying the Oscar broadcast’s myriad shortcomings, they’ll cut ties with the out-of-touch Cates and hand the whole garish spectacle over to a dedicated surrealist like David Lynch (who recently dabbled in the interminable with Inland Empire).
And, yet, I can’t fully condemn Cates’s handiwork: he did, after all, preside over the first Oscar broadcast to feature a clip from Irwin Allen’s 1978 masterwork, The Swarm. There is honor in this. But this goodwill was blotted out by the snubbing of Ulrich Muhe and Brad Renfro from the “In Memoriam” montage (which is always the most tasteless moment of every Oscar ceremony, but everyone likes the applause metered, “We’re Sorriest You’re Dead” contest too much to get rid of it). Muhe’s omission was unconscionable, but the absence of Renfro seemed downright cruel; even in death, the troubled kid can’t get in the picture.
But this town never takes care of its failures. If you’re going to die young, you’d better leave a pretty corpse and an even prettier filmography. Remember this, young Mylie, when you’re headlining county fairs in ten years.
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