The Oscars: Did it all amount to passé choices and proselytizing politics, bordering on obnoxious?
N.P.H., AKA, The Poon-Handler, AKA, Neil Patrick Harris hosted the 87th Academy Awards last night and did a great job … laughing at his own jokes.
After Harris would hit his punchlines, he would stare at the camera, allow five seconds of awkward silence to pass, and then giggle. I know many people love N.P.H., but his brand of “comedy” is lost on me. That said, I do appreciate his work as a song and dance man. When Harris is singing his heart out and galloping around the stage, he’s clearly in his comfort zone. He also did this skit with a box, which reminded me of the end scene in SEVEN, but when he opened the box Gwyneth Paltrow‘s head (nor her steamed vagina) was inside. Total let down.
This was a marathon show, ending well past 12 a.m., with Best Picture going to Birdman. Birdman winning was unavoidable (I guess). It celebrates the narcissism and insecurities artists suffer from, so everyone voting could relate. I mean, so what if its characters are underdeveloped and Keaton‘s ability to have superpowers is never explained (I don’t want to hear about magical realism). Birdman also name drops The New York Times about a billion times, which is the equivalent of getting down on your knees, opening your mouth, and saying, “Insert here, New York Times!” But hey, Birdman’s ass-kissing worked, right? Best Picture. Best Director. Best Original Screenplay. Mission accomplished … or was it?
Birdman failed to claim Best Actor. That award went to the skinny lad from England, Eddie Redmayne, for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking (called it). It was great to see the Academy recognizing young talent for a change and foregoing the sentimental pick in Keaton. Nostalgia failed you, Keaton … and Christian Bale will always be the Batman. Double whammy! Keaton’s loss stirs a larger debate though: He was the driving force of Birdman. Without Keaton, the film’s meta commentary on has-been-superhero-actors attempting to rehabilitate their brand implodes on itself. If Keaton’s performance wasn’t the best, how can Birdman be the “best” picture? Perhaps Stephen Hawking can solve this paradox …
Sadly, Boyhood only won for Best Supporting Actress. Patricia Arquette took the stage and gave a rousing speech on equal pay for women. But after Arquette’s speech, the awards seemed to turn uncomfortably political and preachy (it’s as if she opened the social awareness flood gates).
Common, John Legend and Alejandro Inarittu all addressed social issues in their winning speeches, and an air of political correctness imbued the show.
I understand why artists see the Academy Awards as a platform to get their message out there, but with the 24-hour “news” cycle, Twitter and Facebook constantly bombarding us with social issues, devoting one’s speech to his or her personal political agenda comes off as passe, bordering on obnoxious.
Like a batch of New England Patriots’ footballs, this political proselytizing deflated the entertainment value of the Oscars.
Oh, well, there is always next year, right?
About Bryan Kish
Bryan Kish writes reviews and articles for NID Magazine.