The Oscars – A Lesson in Theme SelectionPosted: 28 February 2011
Last night’s Oscars were…um…interesting. I was excited about James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting, but I realize now that having actual comedians host is better. It takes some of the load off of the writing staff, and the comedian is often able to put his/her own voice into the entire ceremony (prime example: Ricky Gervais). Hathaway and Franco were cute and dorky, but they didn’t do anything for the show’s pacing, and Hathaway’s energy couldn’t really make up for the lack thereof on Franco’s end. (Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Hathaway, and I have no ill will towards Franco; I just think they’re better suited to films, skits on SNL and soap operas).
The ceremony was pretty slow, running about 15 minutes over. What really made it slog along, besides the hosting-style, was the lack of any coherent theme or structure. I think it was “Old Hollywood?” I’m not sure though, because all their marketing for the ceremony
hinted at clearly proclaimed that this year was all about getting a younger demographic to watch and enjoy the Oscars. They failed, however, at keeping that theme in the actual ceremony by focusing on the old instead of the new.
Now, I realize that the Oscars are, by nature, kind of nostalgic, but the way they introduced each category, by talking about one seemingly random previous winner, just seemed a little off. (Especially when they left an image of the previous winner on the screen while the newest winner gave their speech, making it weird, for example, when Lee Unkrich gave his speech for Toy Story 3 in front of a Shrek backdrop.) They also damaged theme consistency with this little gem (which is funny, I won’t deny it):
If the folks behind the Oscars could just pick a theme and keep things moving at a steady clip, I think they’d have better ratings and could finally get the younger demographic to watch it. (Come’on my peers, what’s your problem? There are self-congratulatory celebrities to ogle! Speaking of which, Congrats are in order for Colin Firth! It’s about time!)
There were two things that made the ceremony slightly more enjoyable for me this year, and they had nothing to do with the actual ceremony. First, I was on Twitter and the AV Club live blog for the entirety of the ceremony, which gave me a chance to hear from some actual comedians and get a critical take on the Oscars…in REAL TIME. For all you pop culture nerds out there, I highly recommend finding a live blog. It makes everything more fun.
The other ceremony-improver for me was that I had actually seen some non-Best Picture nominees. (All the animated shorts and one documentary). Having some interest in the outcomes of those categories made it a lot more interesting for me. The Lost Thing was my favorite short (I highly recommend it); actually caring about its win was great.
That’s probably a key to appreciating the Oscars: the more you’ve been able to see, the better opinions you can form, and the more invested you’ll be in the ceremony. My goal for next year is to see all the nominated shorts and documentaries, though I’m confident that’s easier said than done.
Side note: The best part of the ceremony was probably PS22 singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’