Super or Snoozer? The 88th Academy Awards
By Christine G. Adamo
The New Yorker. Vogue. Paper. Rolling Stone. CNN Money.
What do these media outlets have in common? Each one raced to post Oscar-related coverage on Feb. 29. You may have even received links to one or more of their posts in your inbox on Monday, with subject lines that read:
• “The Surreal Achievements of the Oscars …” (The New Yorker)
• “The 5 Best Oscars-to-After-Party Beauty Transformations” (Vogue)
• “Oscar Highlights: The Good, the Bad and the ‘Oh’” (Paper)
• “Oscars 2016: 20 Best, Worst and WTF Moments” (Rolling Stone)
• “Oscars Brings in Third-Lowest Viewership in History” (CNN Money)
Here at the Golden Gazette, I’m pretty sure you’re more interested in knowing whether the Oscars were worth staying up for. I did it. (Did you?) The festivities, which were broadcast on ABC-TV, began with a Red Carpet review at 7 p.m. EST on Feb. 28. The ceremony itself started at 8:30 p.m. When did it end? Just after 12:15 a.m. on Feb. 29.
In the interest of bringing you a recap of the highs and lows, I eschewed schoolwork. I raced thru lab assignments and churned out essays at a dizzying pace. I did it all in the name of journalism! Well, that and I was dying to see if Leo DiCaprio would finally win an Oscar for the frozen-fingered role he played in “The Revenant.” (He did.)
And now, (10) Oscar moments that were super. And (10) that were snoozers.
(10) Oscar Moments That Were Super, aka “It was worth missing some zzzs over!”
• 1. Dave Grohl’s acoustic cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” (view a snippet here)
• 2. The “In Memoriam” video that flashed behind Grohl, scrolling images of actors, writers, directors and others who died in 2015 or early 2016. They included: Chantal Ackerman, David Bowie, Christopher Lee, Leonard Nimoy, Maureen O’Hara, Alan Rickman and Warhol darling Holly Woodlawn.
• 3. Chris Rock’s non-celebrity Compton Oscars Red Carpet spoof, in which he mused whether the absence of Black nominees was “Smack the White man bad?” One passerby noted, holding up the Oscar, “This should be not just White. It should be Asian, Hispanic. There’s so much talent out there of all races.” The token White guy smartly remarked: “I’d like to thank the academy for nominating yet another white person this year. I would complain, but it was me.” And the woman who tried to walk away with Oscar? Loved her! And her megawatt smile.
• 4. The roaring applause for the composer of the night’s Best Musical Score (for Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”), Ennio Morricone of Italy. He’s been nominated six times over the past several decades. This was his only win to date.
• 5. The reception received by Vice President Joe Biden, who introduced Gaga.
• 6. Lady Gaga’s monochromatic white ensemble, which she donned for the finale, and her inclusion of both male and female survivors of sexual assault on stage as she sang “Til It Happens to You.”
• 7. The in-house orchestra’s treatment of an excerpt from “Theme from Shaft,” which was originally performed by Isaac Hayes. It was a funky, unexpected, spot-on addition to an otherwise questionable lineup of former Oscar-winning songs.
• 8. Chris Rock’s Girl Scout Cookie sales tally and most-boxes-bought shout out to Hip Hop Music Exec Suge “Sugar Bear” Knight.
• 9. Brie Larson’s Best Actress award acceptance speech for “Room” (which also starred Jacob Tremblay, 9, who won for Best Young Actor/Actress).
• 10. Asif Kapadia’s insistence that Amy Winehouse was so much more than anyone realizes (smart, funny, articulate, etc.), as he and James Gay-Rees accepted their Best Documentary Feature Oscar for “Amy.”
(10) Oscar Moments That Were Snoozers, aka “I’d have rather been in bed.”
• 1. Chris Rock’s sometimes sloppy and mistimed delivery of lines it seemed someone else may have written for him. To that I say, “Never mess with perfection.”
• 2. The insistence, on the part of the ceremony’s producers, on rushing Alejandro G. Inarritu offstage, while he tried desperately to recognize the diverse cast/crew of “Revenant” and make a plea to other Non-White filmmakers to persevere.
• 3. Sacha Baron Cohen’s resurrection of Ali G—to what end? He delivered one of the most confusing award introductions of the night. Minions? Really? Tasteless. Pointless. There went another 30 seconds I could never get back.
• 4. The endless droning on of people who were nominated but didn’t make time to craft proper 45-second acceptance pitches in advance. These are award winners?
• 5. Numerous orchestral renditions of former Oscar-winning theme songs (Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” comes to mind) which in no way reflected the character or intentions of the people approaching the podium. In Babs’ case? Patricia Arquette. Was she even born when that ballad was written?
• 6. The fact that the nearly four-hour event could’ve been packed into three hours. Note to Academy: Motivate those presenters (who largely rest on the lowest rung of least-to-most-important-Oscar-night participants) to reach the podium in 10 seconds versus at a leisurely pace.
• 7. Ironically enought, former “Clueless” star Stacey Dash’s “Happy Black History Month!” moment, which was appropriately met by the sound of crickets. Look into it.
• 8. The sad fact that Gaga didn’t sound that great singing “Til It Happens to You.” Chalk it up to emotion, but I have to say it was hard to sit through. The sexual assault survivors who bore messages of hope along with their souls, as she sang, are what made that finale stirring. Not the singing.
• 9. Kate Capshaw’s harsh, nightmare-inducing bangs. Not a good look. For anyone.
• 10. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaac’s matronly red dress. Her speech on diversity and the future of the awards was sound enough, though canned. Those cascading, beaded sleeves and mismatched earrings are what really should’ve been canned. It was hard to take her seriously.
Honorary Mention, aka “Now that’s how you give an acceptance speech!”
The “Spotlight” crew nailed it. No wonder their movie did so well.
An entire brood of actors, producers and you-name-its descended on the stage like a swarm of bees—but they were prepared, taking turns at the podium and had clearly done their homework. (Oooops, homework!) As the big winners of the night, for Best Motion Picture of 2015, they could have gone on and on. But they didn’t.
They win my highest honor: Best Performance By a Movie Cast & More 2016.
Oscar 2016 (courtesy of Domenico on Flickr)