With the Oscars done, it’s time to think about the good, the bad and the ugly of Hollywood’s big night.
- Chris Rock
The host handled the #OscarsSoWhite controversy with humor and deft, with just the right amount of uncomfortable tongue-in-cheek humor. It gave the show some much needed bite and intrigue, enough for the next awards ceremony to be reflective of last night.
- Mercifully shorter segments
The ceremony itself may have stretched over again, but it was not because of silly movie montage clips or over-the-top acceptance speeches dragged on forever. Things were kept relatively in check, with just a few musical numbers and interludes.
- Deserved winners
“Spotlight” was a deserved Best Picture winner, and other winners including Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”), Brie Larson (“Room”), cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (“The Revenant”), writers Charles Randolph and Adam McKay (“The Big Short”), writers Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (“Spotlight”), editor Margaret Sixel (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), composer Ennio Morricone (“The Hateful Eight”) and animator Pete Docter (“Inside Out”) were all worthy as well.
- Undeserved winners
“Ex-Machina” is a very good film, but it did not feature the best visual effects of the year, an honor much more belonging to “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” A similar argument can be made for Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) winning over Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (“The Revenant”) winning over George Miller (“Mad Max: Fury Road”).
The Oscars are inherently political no matter what they may say otherwise. And it happens every year that political causes are grandstanded into acceptance speeches from people who really have no business lecturing much of anyone on issues. Just this year, the following political and social causes were hijacked by Hollywood winners: sexual abuse, racism, social classism, gender inequality, pay inequality, climate action, political campaigns, police action, foreign nationalism, LGBT rights, workplace discrimination and social feminism.
It’s one thing to stand for a cause, it’s another to lecture others in a thousand dollar suit or dress while accepting an award from an institution that is very clearly not in step with modern times.
- Using others to make a point
The one Chris Rock segment that really fell flat was his interviewing African-American movie-goers about their viewing habits and noting that none of them had seen several nominated films. The films he asked about were indie films, not likely in mainstream theaters, and he did not mention more accessible but still nominated flicks like “The Revenant”, “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “The Martian.”
And the subsequent portrayal of these people felt one-dimensional and demeaning. A similar case could be made in reference to a girl scout bit.
Lady Gaga, during her performance of her nominated song “Til It Happens to You”, also brought victims of sexual abuse on stage. Again, when rich and famous people use others to make political points (no matter the cause), it feels exploitative.
The main form of communication for instantaneous thoughts from anyone always brings some pretty ugly commentary to any awards show.
Whether it was backlash against Lady Gaga not winning or attacks on Chris Rock’s hosting-while-bashing, the ability of others to demean and create an Internet backlash degrades most media events nowadays.
On a personal note, my percentage correct last night: 71%.