At the risk of sounding ruthless, the emceeing wasn’t up-to-mark. But James Franco was as high as sky. The poor guy was stoned and on top of that, he had to act sober but failed miserably. He was way too busy smirking, giggling and forgetting his lines. His co-host, Anne Hathaway had to overcompensate for his lack of participation. Out of the two, Anne obviously did a better job. Her charming personality coupled with her singing and rapid wardrobe changing skills made her screen-time worthwhile. Yet it wasn’t enough.
There were some spectacular moments too. Thankfully. Like Kirk Douglas’ appearance on stage to present the Best Supporting Actress Award. At 94, with heavy breathy voice, he still remembers the art of entertainment. He cracked jokes on Australians, Colin Firth and even flirted with Melissa Leo before handing out the bald statuette. For the minutes he spent on stage, you couldn’t help thinking: Yes, Oscars is the country for old men. After all, the Academy ensures legends and the not-so-legendary oldies are paid their due respect.
This time around, they had Billy Crystal (who tickled the starry audience pink within seconds of entering) reminiscing an *encounter* with his idol Bob Hope on the very jocular stage he was standing, years ago. Then there were Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law who shared the stage and effortlessly created laughs. Randy Newman’s acceptance speech for Best Song crafted some genuine yet laughy instants.
Acceptance speeches are rarely pleasing to ears, let alone audacious or inspiring. This year was no different. But I liked the Best Documentary 'Inside Job' director Charles Ferguson’s assertive stand about the absence of recession-tainted corporate executives in jail. I remember Sean Penn doing something similar for gays’ rights when he won Best Actor in 2009. Then there was Tom Hopper who won Best Director for ‘The King’s Speech’ advising everyone to listen to their mothers for he did the same and was going home with the golden statue.
Needless to say, like millions of fellow Indians, I too dream of Oscars and revel in its unsubstantiated glory. This year had some Indians (Bollywoodians, to be precise) on the red carpet including Abhi-Ash and Ashutosh Gowariker. AR Rahman performed “If I Rise” on stage. Moreover, the musical engineer had two nominations for Danny Boyle’s ‘127 Hours’ which he didn’t win. Boyle who struck gold two years ago with ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, was the biggest loser this year as his movie couldn’t pick up a single win out of six nods.
And yes, there was Tariq Anwar who failed to grab the award for Best Editing in ‘The King’s Speech’. This was his second nomination after ‘American Beauty’. Had he won, he could have become the first post-Slumdog Indian to grab an Oscar. Sigh.
Christian Bale won the Best Supporting Actor for his skinny role in ‘The Fighter’. Natalie Portman bagged Best Actress for her irritating but awesome portrayal of a ballerina in ‘Black Swan’. Colin Firth was anyway the sole man in Best Actor’s race with his stammering in TKS so there were no surprises there. TKS also won the Best Picture award. Deservedly so, I must add.
When I say Oscars has gone to the dogs, I’ve got undeniable reasons. Christopher Nolan was snubbed as usual. He wasn’t even nominated for direction. Just imagine ‘Inception’ without Nolan’s imagination. Difficult, isn’t it? For all we know, the Academy has issues with geniuses like him. Darren Aronofsky and Roger Deakins (and many more) also belong to this helpless club. Formidable movies like 'True Grit' and 'Winter’s Bone' went home empty-handed. Well, '127 Hours' wasn't the favorite in the first place.
In some way, watching Oscars, having no inkling what the Academy is all about, I mean, who are these people who get to vote, helps a lot. Perhaps, for all its annual exaggerations, Oscars deserves a lifetime achievement award as well as retirement.
No matter how dull it was on television, we, on Twitter, successfully snubbed Monday morning blues thanks to Oscars. Yup. So that’s a brownie point there. Meanwhile, I learned a trick or two for my celebrated “career”. You see, I’m thinking of doing a James Franco in my office some night. I’ll let you know once I do it. Or maybe after I undo it.