Monday, February 23, 2015

The Worst Moments of the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Neil Patrick Harris
With the Oscars officially behind us, it is time to wrap-up the highs and lows of the season. Where the previous post saw an exploration of everything that the show did right, this is a look at the few flubs that maybe didn't work out. It was a hard year to judge because unlike the meandering that dominated last year's ceremony, this year ran like clockwork despite running long and featured a lot of soapbox moments. The following is a look at the moments that maybe didn't work so well at this year's Academy Awards, including some coverage of the best red carpet moment of the ceremony.

Left to right: Melanie Griffith and Dakota Johnson
Dakota Johnson Talks About Sex with Mom

If you thought talking to your parents about 50 Shades of Grey was rough, consider what it must be like to do it in public. Star of the film Dakota Johnson for some reason was at the Oscars to present an award with her mother in tow. With the sexually explicit film still only two weeks old, it's on a lot of people's minds. During one such interview, Johnson was forced to discuss the film's nature in front of her mother Melanie Griffith, which while vague suggested some awkwardness thanks to the very notion that talking about sex in front of your parents is a little embarrassing, even if you know that it is acting.

The Racism Factor

Let's just say that this year's nominations weren't as diverse as they could be. However, the fact that people decided to make a big, irrational deal out of it only made the season more excruciating to deal with. From the infamous Selma snub conversation (including that "brutally honest" Oscar voter who said it had no art) to conflicts that Boyhood might be racist, there was a sense that people were poking buttons just to insult one demographic of film when it is a more universal problem. Considering that Al Sharpton was going to protest until Selma director Ava Duvernay made him reconsider, there was a lot of discussion, and not in a productive way, about race this season that felt more like bullying than any big call for change. Even the offhand remark of Neil Patrick Harris calling the crowd "the best and whitest" felt a little annoying. Thankfully, he didn't give out awards irrationally just to appease complaints.

Big Hero 6 Upsets How to Train Your Dragon 2

It seemed like a sure bet that How to Train Your Dragon 2 was going to win Best Animated Film. With crowd favorite The Lego Movie not in immediate discussion, the beautifully crafted Dreamworks movie had the edge over everything. However, in one of the few surprises of the night, Big Hero 6 won out, thus keeping Disney's chokehold on the category alive for another year. It is also the only Oscar that Marvel Studios has actually won. Still, compared to the masterful shots of How to Train Your Dragon 2, it seems like one of the most egregious upsets in years for this category.

Left to right: Idina Menzel and John Travolta
John Travolta is Forgiven

There has been a running joke the past few years that John Travolta cannot pronounce words. Last year saw him say Idina Menzel's name so wrong that it became an online meme. In a surprise twist, Menzel and Travolta reunited on the stage to forgive and forget. However, things got awkward as Travolta touched her face and he revealed that his speech impediment will haunt him forever. It was comical, but awkwardly handled in a way that resulted in Menzel reading off the list of nominees as a joke.

Jennifer Hudson
The In Memoriam Package

It is a tough call on grading this year's In Memoriam. The fact of the matter is that they tried something different. Instead of presenting clips of the deceased subjects, they showed sketches against an unimpressive backdrop. It got the point across, but without much acclaim, the tribute happened and was proceeded by a lovely but uninteresting song by Jennifer Hudson. The In Memoriam usually is a reliable look back on those we have lost. However, there were too many mixed signals to really make it feel as emotional or powerful as it could have been. As for the people that were allegedly left out? There has been word that the missing slides can be seen on the Oscars website.

Lady GaGa Performs The Sound of Music

This is a tough call. For starters, Lady GaGa did an impressive job as she belted out all of the hits from the 50-year-old Best Picture winner. If nothing else, it is way different from her average weird pop fascination. However, there's a lot of other factors that made it a little off. The scenery didn't feel important to the performance nor did it feel like there was anything major to take away from it. The simplicity inevitably ruined momentum of an otherwise excellent performance. Also, with the show running long and seven categories to go, there's a question on why this was necessary considering the lack of context around it. The one saving grace was Lady GaGa introducing Julie Andrews at the end (note: while not a celebrity, Maria Von Trapp was also left off of the In Memoriam).

Patricia Arquette's Acceptance Speech

Women's wages is an important thing. However, in the context of Best Supporting Actress for Boyhood winner Patricia Arquette's speech, it felt disingenuous. What started off as an unmemorable rap sheet of thank you's, it abruptly diverted into a self-serving call to arms of women being paid equal wages. The issue with this is that where speeches throughout the ceremony dealt with suicide and ALS, they at least incorporated it into their speeches in a meaningful way. Arquette's approach felt arbitrary and more like a soapbox moment than an actual call to arms. Provided that she does something about this now, I may take back my hatred for this speech. However, saying something is different from doing something. Arquette hasn't done anything yet worthy of applause for these comments. It feels like showboating to get the crowd on your side. And besides, without personalizing this argument, it feels even more isolating to consider that her "unequal" wages for acting is still considered being overpaid based on more relevant professions. It especially sounds greedy when considering that she hasn't done anything during awards season to use her power for this good. Of course, it just feels disingenuous when considering that she went home with a very, very expensive and likely unequal waged (for all women) swag bag. We shouldn't be applauding this moment because it is empty praise at this point. Wait until someone does something before you think that they're a hero. Also, Arquette needs to find a way to personalize it so that it sounds more important than a blanket statement.

Neil Patrick Harris' Prediction Box

It was an interesting gag, but not one that paid off. The whole point was that Neil Patrick Harris made predictions before the show and wanted to see if they came true. With Octavia Spencer watching over them, the joke managed to be brought up occasionally in ways that had moments of laughter. However, it proved to be rather pointless when he revealed that the predictions were all very specific things that did happen throughout the show. It wasn't all that interesting, though a nice twist on what exactly could have happened.

No comments:

Post a Comment