I was but two paragraphs into my planned Oscar reaction post before I sighed heavily and got distracted by something shiny, so I decided to pack it in because there wasn’t a whole lot to say that hasn’t been said better by others already. Also, my real reaction can best be described as a sustained yawn. The production was slick enough outside of some atrocious sound mixing, but the content of that production was just a long snoozefest. As painful as last year’s Hathaway/Franco train wreck frequently was, at least that failure made in interesting. This year, all we got was a whole lot of safe, much like the movie that won Best Picture. You know your awards ceremony is predictable and lame when Meryl Streep winning an award qualifies as the night’s biggest shocker.
Another theme that returned throughout the night: movies are awesome, y’all. We were treated to various useless montages and (more bearably) Errol Morris-esque interview segments about how great the theatrical experience is, and as a result the whole ceremony felt more self-congratulatory than usual. And that is saying something. At times, it would have been quicker to simply put a giant mirror in front of the crowd and say “Look at yourselves. You are society’s greatest heroes.” It was a whole lot of preaching to the choir without ever promoting the product in an engaging fashion. Plus, Billy Crystal wasn’t funny, though he sure seemed to be enjoying himself.
The Oscars also proved to be particularly disinterested in the best in modern filmmaking, instead focusing on films that celebrated old movies and the history of the medium. The two big winners were obviously The Artist and Hugo, the former winning all the major awards while the latter cleaned up all the technical awards. Both are reasonably entertaining films, but only Martin Scorsese’s film takes it’s film-loving premise and goes anywhere with it besides the superficial level. While it focuses heavily on the past of film—particularly it’s eaaaaaarrrrly history—it isn’t a film that exclusively looks backwards. Through the use of modern filmmaking and 3-D, Hugo also embraces the magic that awaits us in film’s future. Non-cinema fanatics may not get what all the fuss is about, but for us freaks it’s a captivating salute to where the medium has been and where it is going. It’s a film that is never cynical about modern technology, and Scorsese has said in numerous interviews that he is planning to fully embrace it. We’ll see how this works out in the next several years, but at least we can be happy that we got a movie like Hugo out of this new direction.
It is here I shall segue into a look at some of the other movies coming out on DVD and Blu-ray. The biggest box office hit is undoubtedly The Hangover: Part II, the sequel to the widely-loved 2009 comedy smash. While I did not like this movie very much, there’s a very good chance my C+ review was one of the more generous opinions out there. Another comedy I liked more than most was the gloriously silly Johnny English Reborn, which is a sequel that nobody asked for yet it still delivers some light-hearted laughs that will make you happy you saw it. It won’t offer much more, but don’t be so picky.