Meryl Streep surprises while Billy Crystal bores in a very bland Academy Awards

What can I say about the 84th Annual Academy Awards?  …Zzzzzz… huh what? Oh I’m sorry.  Where was I? Oh yeah, Academy Awards.  I think it’s important to note… (Head bobs as eyes fight to stay open).  The fact is, it was really, really boring.  Was it as bad as last year’s debacle from James Franco and Anne Hathaway who gave us the worst Oscars ever? No, but it wasn’t good.

Billy Crystal in the Academy Awards

When Billy Crystal was announced as host after Eddie Murphy dropped out, I felt a warm happy sensation.  While I was definitely curious of what Murphy could do, I knew without a doubt that Crystal was a safe bet to restore some much needed respect and entertainment to the award show.  Unfortunately, the term “safe bet” turned into a negative rather than a positive defining this year’s show as a predictable snoozefest. Yes some of the jokes were funny but only in a pleasant smile sort of way.  Crystal did his usual comedic elements that made him popular before like inserting himself into some of the nominated films, singing about all the Best Pictures and giving us an idea what the stars are thinking.  I’m not knocking these routines; in fact, I was hoping to see them again.  However, each one lacked a sense of energy, originality and in the case of the songs, basic humor.  Jimmy Kimmel’s faux MOVIE: THE MOVIE trailer on his show was funnier than anything on the Academy Awards.

Asa Butterfield and Chloe Moretz in Hugo

As far as the actual awards go, they were equally as safe as the hosting duties. While I didn’t outright hate any of the nominees, I wasn’t necessarily wowed by any either (other than THE TREE OF LIFE).  I understand the Academy can’t help the hand they are given with movies that come out that year but I would have liked to seen some smaller films like DRIVE and WARRIOR a bit more in the mix.  Overall the films nominated were a fine batch dividing the awards between HUGO and THE ARTIST.  My biggest mistake within my own predictions was not always going with the clear favorite.  Other than Editing not going to the Best Picture winner and instead to the well deserved THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, the favorite or close second favorite won in just about every category.

While Meryl Streep was the second favorite to win for Best Actress, I think most people thought Viola Davis was a near lock.  Streep was wonderful, but it’s odd that after so many nominations that her third win will be in such a poor empty film.  For the record, THE IRON LADY received an Oscar for Makeup as well.  Thankfully, Streep never disappoints when giving acceptant speeches.

Meryl Streep at the Oscars

No matter how many checks and balances one might do you always come across a few snags in a live telecast.  But the problem with the microphone should have immediately been fixed after the first commercial break.  Struggling to understand each word there was a constant distraction through the entire opening number and subsequent award presentations with the reverb through everyone’s audio.  While Cirque du Soleil was extremely impressive it didn’t completely connect and all the interviews about movies fell flat when actors explained their feelings rather than specific films (I adored Reese Witherspoon’s admiration for OVERBOARD). These are a few mistakes that are avoidable.

Oscars-2012 Cirque du Soleil

I love the Academy Awards and I usually defend them vehemently so it pains me to see such a decline the last couple of years.  I completely admit laughing through Crystal’s opening schtick but it wasn’t long when I embarrassingly realized that my passionate hope for it to be good was forcing me into a fake laughter rather than a natural one.

I recognize that hosting the Oscars is a tough thankless gig.  You are working a nervous uncomfortable crowd who are without food or alcohol and have cameras in their face while 4 out 5 of them continue to lose throughout the night.  There are few people who can pull off the challenge and Crystal happens to be one of them but he was a little bland with a few too many thank yous this go around.  I’m not saying he was terrible but I would have like to seen a little more effort, a little more excitement and a little more relevance in such a beloved ceremony.

By Nathan Swank

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