Another Year, Another Oscars

And that wraps up another Oscar sason. The red carpet has been rolled up, the formal attire returned or stored away and the winners and nominees are off to work again like any other day, some hoping to be lucky enough to return to the ceremony next year.

Usually around this time of the year, I’m disquieted, and it’s not because I have finals coming up in two weeks (though it should be). After being immersed in the Oscars for almost three months, I often find myself in an existential state now that the Oscars are over, asking myself, “Well, what now?”

But that’s not the case for me this year. To be truthful, I wasn’t very emotionally invested in the Oscars this time around. Perhaps this is due to the fact that there were too many glaring omissions from the nominations –– after all, I’ve been bitching to my friends how there was little to no recognition for films like “Drive” and “Shame.” Another explanation is that I’m getting too old for this, which I hope isn’t true. That being said, I feel like a normal human being this year post-Oscars.

Though I didn’t care too much about the Oscars this year, I still managed to watch them –– or at least, enough of them to share my thoughts about the general ceremony and the winners.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made it known at the beginning of the ceremony that they were going to present the best show they can in the least amount of time. When Tom Hanks was onstage to present both Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction (the first two awards of the night), the pace at which the awards were presented particularly puzzled me, as I had been accustomed to the detailed, drawn-out tone of past Oscar ceremonies. The producers must have wanted to appease the viewers’ ADD-like lack of patience. Whatever the reason may be, the ceremony maintained this brisk pace throughout, and its duration overall lasted a little over three hours.

So succinct the ceremony was, but sweet it was not. Indeed, there were few instances when the show felt so full of life and vigor, and the mood in the air felt rather conservative –– almost as if the producers were playing it too safe for a shorter running time. As a result, the ceremony spent most of its time in the ho-hum zone and seldom crossed over into the entertaining.

Billy Crystal, who was hosting the Oscars for the ninth time in his career and widely considered to be one of the better hosts in the ceremony’s history, sparked a couple of laughs here and there, but failed to really make the ceremony click. I have a feeling that it’s not necessarily his fault; if anything, it seems as though he was given either very dull or very little material to work with. I’m still wishing for the day when the Academy asks a triumvirate of Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to host the Oscars.

Almost equally safe were the winners themselves. The ceremony’s theme this year may as well be movies about, well, the movies. I knew that “The Artist” and “Hugo” were going to score pretty well at the Oscars, but even then I thought that the amount of love shown to those two films bordered a bit on overkill, as splendid as they are. And before you ask, yes, my predictions this year did take a beating because of these two films, so you can say I’m a bit bitter.

However, there were definitely some surprises, and they managed to give the show some spark (as well as putting a further dent on my predictions). On the night when most people thought that “The Artist” or “Hugo” was going to take home Best Film Editing, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” swooped in to deservingly take home the prize. Then there was Viola Davis, whom everyone believed was guaranteed to win Best Actress for her performance in “The Help.” But when the winner was declared, it was Meryl Streep who went onstage to claim the coveted award for her role as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady,” making it the third Oscar of her career.

As a whole, the Oscars were rather dull this year. Personally, I don’t think it deserved to be called “the biggest movie event of the year,” as it often advertises itself. A boring presentation that stemmed from weak material condemned the 84th Academy Awards to being one of the more lackluster ones in recent memory. OK, I admit that correctly predicting only 17 out of the 24 winners had some influence on my opinion, but I still stand by it.

But hey, what can be accomplished by just complaining? We can only look forward to next year’s ceremony and hope that it honors what looks to be a very good year for the movies. As for me, I’m going to stay alert and make sure that I’m much more emotionally invested next time around, with the hope that I can correctly predict at least 20 out of the 24 eventual winners. Call me shallow now, but we’ll see who has the last laugh next year.