Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars: A few of my favorite things

Time for a little Oscar postmortem:

I thought Hugh Jackman's opening number was hilarious and wow, he has such a terrific stage presence. It's nice to have a host who looks good in a tux and can do more than tell a few topical jokes. He reminded us that the movies are about glamour. Plus, Anne Hathaway is so funny, so adorable. I've loved her ever since The Princess Diaries and I'm sure she'll get an Oscar someday soon.

Hugh's big musical number, produced by Baz Luhrmann, was ok. It did seem a little strange to give a big wet kiss to movie musicals this year, since there weren't any nominated. But I enjoyed the shoutout to films like West Side Story. Coincidentally, I'd been listening to the Broadway cast recording on my iPod that very afternoon! Anytime I get to see the talented Mr. Jackman singing and dancing, it's a treat.

Honestly, I thought the show dragged a bit - maybe because I'd seen so few of the nominated movies. It was a little hard to get swept up in the all the hoopla for Slumdog Millionaire. From the descriptions I've read, it's much too violent for me. I'll have to wait until it comes out on dvd. As for The Wrestler, I'll probably never see it. Same for The Reader. I read the book, though. Does that count?

But I did like the way they gave out the awards - taking us from the script to the finished product and showing us a little bit about the process along the way. And I liked having winners from previous decades standing in a semicircle to introduce this year's nominated performances.

Seeing all of the little kids on stage when Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture was awfully cute. And watching Phillipe Petit balance an Oscar upside down on his chin when Man on Wire won for Best Documentary was pretty cool.

There were very moving acceptance speeches from Dustin Lance Black for Best Original Screenplay for Milk; Kate Winslet for Best Actress for The Reader, the family of the late Heath Ledger accepting his award for Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight; and Sean Penn for Best Actor for Milk.

Both Black and Winslet were so personal about what the award meant to them. And I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for Ledger's parents and sister, who aren't in show business, to get up there in front of thousands of people. I would have been like a deer in headlights.

Winslet was so sweet, talking about how she'd dreamed of this moment ever since she was a little girl: "I'd be lying if I hadn't made a version of this speech before, I think I was probably eight years old and staring into the bathroom mirror. And this (holding up her statuette) would've been a shampoo bottle. Well, it's not a shampoo bottle now!"

I got choked up when Black talked about what Harvey Milk's life meant to him as a gay man and the message that Harvey would want him to give to gay and lesbian kids who have been told that they are less than by their families, their church, their government: that "you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that, no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you."

And Penn, who portrayed one of the country's first openly gay elected officials, used his speech to remind the audience plainly and simply what this fight for our gay and lesbian friends and family and neighbors and coworkers is all about: "We've got to have equal rights for everyone."


Dale said...

I agree that they dragged on a bit but enjoyed the opening number and some of the speeches. I was surprised at how intense Slumdog Millionaire was but it was still very worthwhile.

Esther said...

I forgot to mention, the kids from Slumdog on stage at the end were awfully cute! I'm sure I'll see it from the comfort of my living room couch. But just from some of the descriptions I've read, I think it's too intense for me to see on the big screen. I'm a wimp!

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I'm so thrilled that "Slumdog Millionaire" won Best Picture. As difficult as its subject matter was to watch at times, its truth made it my favorite film of the past year.

While I love to watch the Oscars, my theatregoing habits got in the way last evening so I only caught the last hour and a half. Thanks for the recap!

Esther said...

You're welcome, SOB. Sorry to hear about your computer crash.

I definitely will catch up with Slumdog on dvd. If you want a much fuller Oscar recap, you should check out Vance at Tapeworthy. He live-blogged the whole thing and I added some comments along the way. And I'm pretty sure you can find the opening number and musicals tribute once you get online again!

Vance said...

Even the Wrestler, there's one huge scene with staples you'll want to avoid watching but it's a GREAT film and VERY moving. And yah. it's totally worth it for Slumdog. Such a joyous film (at least overall when you think back about it).

And Reader is probably less intense than you think. (which is probably why some don't like it. cause it's quite a glossy film).

Margo said...

Only saw the last 4 awards presented but loved Sean Penn's speech. Sorry I missed Black's speech, but it is nice to know that Harvey Milk's message is still out there. That movie made such an impact on me. I need to get Harvey Milk: the Mayor of Castro Street.

Esther said...

Oh Vance, I'm afraid The Wrestler simply is not for me! I'm wavering on The Reader, though.

Esther said...

Hey Margo,
The documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" is great, too. It was on hulu for free about a month ago. I don't know if it's still there. I think what I appreciated about Penn and Black and Winslet is that their speeches were personal. It was more than just thanking their agent and a whole laundry list of people whose names mean nothing to me. You're out there in front of millions of people watching on tv, use the time for good.

Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, You need to see "Slumdog Millionaire" on the big screen. It's that powerful.