Last night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences jumped on what they see as the ‘Hollywood nostalgia’ train currently afoot with such film such as The Artist and Hugo. Classic and reliable Billy Crystal emceed the Oscars this year, with his badly dyed hair and same-old schtick, as hot young women in satin retro-ish hot pants and hats walked down the aisles with popcorn, candy, and probably drugs. The set-design and graphics also invoked classic Hollywood and silent films, as if those two eras are essentially the same. Old is old, right? No one watching knows the difference between the 20a and the 40s, right? It’s all an Instagram filter anyhow to these kids.
Admittedly, the Academy may have been right to cash in on the buzz surrounding last night’s big winner, silent film The Artist: when they tried to go young with hosts last year, James Franco showed up and… Well, he showed up. But, it appeared that this throwback attitude was used by voters to justify nostalgic (aka safe) voting in a few categories. Other than The Artist, which I admittedly found creative and unique, the winners were to be expected, except when they weren’t, cough, Meryl, cough. Yes, despite here historic 17 nominations with no wins since the 80s, even Meryl seemed surprised that Viola Davis of The Help lost Best Actress. I didn’t even like The Help and I felt the same way. Quipping “I really understand I’ll never be up here again,” it appeared as if even Streep realized this was not a totally fair vote. Who knows why Meryl took the prize? Because she deserves it? Because she deserved other ones? For old-time’s sake?
Either way, she wore a dress fitting her retro win: Gold, lame, with 80s/90s shoulders, and a 70s belt. Oh my.
Other than Octavia Spencer taking home the statue, effectively winning us over with her speech (“I’m wrapping up, I’m sorry, I am freaking out!”) and confirming that Hollywood seems to be more okay with persons of color winning in supporting roles, all was as to be expected. Well maybe her win was to be expected too, because in addition to her great skill, playing a maid is an “acceptable” acting role for a black woman. Christopher Plummer got what appeared was a lifetime achievement win for Beginners. I’m okay with that as he’s a delight, I didn’t have a favorite in this category anyhow, and, at 82, Plummer is only 2 years younger than the Oscar telecast itself! Even the recent Muppet nostalgia won big, with “Muppet or Man” winning best song. Jim Henson shout-outs are welcomed in my book any day. For everything else, if you weren’t Hugo or The Artist, you either lost or were in a category no one cares about. If you were the latter, however, you probably gave the most heartfelt and moving speeches of the night, reminding us all that that little statuette really does matter to some of us normal folk.
Overall, the nostalgia shtick was ho-hum for me. Not to mention racist in several instances, including blackface! Nothing says old-timey goodness like some blackface. Most of the bits and the presenters were boring, save the shot-taking, penis-referencing Bridesmaids cast and a sparkling Emma Stone. Even the mini-Christopher Guest reunion couldn’t make the old Hollywood thing happen for me. Yes, making fun of how us regular movie goers would have ruined even The Wizard of Oz with our ridiculous reactions was sharp satire, but it felt out of place last night. On it’s own, so so funny. Watch here.
In the end, it was just another year and another overly long telecast. Now it’s time to sit back and start speculating about next year. Hopefully the Academy will take notice of the few moments that really shone last night and realize that Funny young women are clearly going to save Hollywood. If only they’d let it happen…
Click here for my complete Oscar coverage.