I have been watching the Oscars for decades. After last year’s incredibly boring, lifeless show, I nearly didn’t watch this year. I am happy to report that this year’s producers remembered that the Oscars, a chance to broadcast our best to the world, should be entertaining.
#1-Dance Troupe Pilobolus
Yes, you’ve seen them before. They dance into the shadow form of a car in a current commercial. At the Oscars they provided a lively, visual, fun interlude presenting shadow-figure creations of many of the films. Even host Ellen Degeneres rolled around with the troupe behind the curtain imitating “Snakes on a Plane”.
#2-Montage of movie clips scored by Ennio Merricone
Montages can be dreadful, but this was visually lovely and sensible musically. Veteran Clint Eastwood seems to be the only Hollywood leading man that is not embarrased by his early work. We saw him in a clip of “The Good the Bad and the Ugly” as well as heard that signature “Spaghetti Western” music. Eastwood gave out a special Oscar to Ennio Merricone for movie scoring. Merricone has never won an Oscar, but has scored many memorable films. Eastwood even translated the remarks of Merricone from Italian to English.
#3-Ellen’s Musical Welcome to all the Nominees
Ellen insisted in several interviews that she would not be dancing at the Oscars, however, she did in her wish to make all the nominees feel welcome and special. A white-robed gospel singing group appeared on stage and sang to the nominees. They danced up the aisle while Ellen played a tambourine on stage. Several members of the audience, swept up in the celebration stood up to clap along – including Meryl Streep.
#4-The Three Stooges, I mean Directors
Directors tend to be notoriously humorless. Who’d have thought laughs would come from Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg? Spielberg even took the “Three Stooges” implications a step further and told Lucas and Coppola to “spread out”. He then cheerily announced Martin Scorsese as Best Director for “The Departed”.
#5-The Presentation of Both Adapted and Original Screenplay Nominees
In the past the presenters on stage, often terribly stiff , read passages from the nomimated scripts rather badly. This year, full-screen clips of the movies were played with voice-overs for the typed script words ,and lines were spoken by the on screen actors. “Little Miss Sunshine” won for Best Original Screenplay. “The Departed” won for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Oh Jerry – where have you been – we’ve missed you! Sienfeld gave a spot on short stand-up routine about the ironies of the documentary movie business. He then listed all the “depressing” nominees for Best Documentary Feature. The award went to “An Inconvenient Truth”.
#7-Will Ferrel, Jack Black and John C. O’Reilly
This trio sang a very funny song about comedians never winning an Oscar. They even threatened some of the nominees – except for Mark Wahlberg whom they noted was too tough for them. They called Ellen Mirren “hot” and finished the song wishing they could take home the Oscar and Mirren. They presented the Best Makeup Award to “Pan’s Labyrnth”.
#8-Abigail Breslin and Will Smith’s son
I’m sorry – Will Smith’s son has four names. But he (from “The Pursuit of Happyness” and Abigail (from “Little Miss Sunshine”) were the most real and adorable children to ever grace the Oscar stage. Will’s son kept losing his place, but Abigial kept them on track and got them through two award presentations: Best Animated Short and Best Live Action Short.
#9-Presentation for Best Costume Design
Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Each of the nominated Best Costume Designs were represented on stage by a tableau of models dressed in a sampling of the costumes. It was beautiful and effective. The only mistake was bringing a live dog onstage with “The Queen” set of models.
#10-Presentation of Best Foreign Language Film
A simple, but exquisite montage of Best Foreign Language Films from the past was shown first. Rather than slapped together by any available staff member, the montage was edited by the man responsible for “Cineman Paridiso”. It was mesmerising. The award went to “The Lives of Others” from Germany.