I do like me some schmaltz. I love me some showbiz. I enjoy being entertained. Which is why this year's Academy Awards presentation left me so very flat. I have often compared the experience of The Oscars At My House as the Super Bowl of Movies. This one had all the excitement of an exhibition game in front of a few dozen spectators handed free tickets along with their formal wear.
It was held in a train station.
There was no host.
But let me shine a light on what may have been the biggest gamble of the night, which turned into the night's biggest letdown. Producers chose to give out the award for Best Picture not at the end, but just before a commercial break and then handed out the awards for best actress and best actor. It is possible that they were trying to shake things up, keeping things lively by pulling this switcheroo. Messing with tradition is a great way to make people remember you, but this seemed a highly calculated move. No one is saying definitively whether this choice was made in order to present the late Chadwick Boseman his Oscar as the final tribute, but that's not how it worked out. Instead, Best Actor this year went to Sir Anthony Hopkins. A very worthy selection, but not the intended gauzy moment that would have given this show a signature moment. Then it turned out that Sir Anthony wasn't there to accept his award, leaving presenter Joaquin Phoenix to mumble the forever quotable line, "Mister Hopkins isn't here to accept his award, and I'm sure um he thanks the um academy."
And that was that. Time to catch the 8:15 out of Los Angeles.
Yes, there will be those who point to the folksy demeanor of Frances McDormand. Or the way this year's selections skewed far from #OscarsSoWhite. Or the funny bit where Glenn Close saved a tired bit about Academy Award winning songs by exhibiting an encyclopedic knowledge of "Da Butt," the dance craze from Spike Lee's School Daze. If everything about it didn't seem so well-rehearsed and over the top, it might have been a delightful distraction.
Maybe if Spike had been on hand for his reaction.
But he wasn't. And neither were most of the glitterati who make a show like that so entertaining. For me anyway. No streakers. No Roberto Benigni climbing over seats and celebrities on the way to pick up his statue. They didn't even manage to accidentally give an Oscar to the wrong film.
Nope. This one was well-rehearsed and sparsely attended. And it took place during a global pandemic. Oh. I bet that's how I'll remember it.