Cut to the inside of the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Actors practice their "I'm totally laughing for real and not at all upset" faces as host Ricky Gervais comes out... See full synopsis »
Louis J. Horvitz
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The 82nd Academy Awards will be remembered as the first time in many years that the Oscars featured ten Best Picture nominees and clips from all ten nominees were presented separately spread throughout the broadcast. However, let's face it, not much changed as only AVATAR and THE HURT LOCKER had a chance to win. Also, ever since the SAG Awards have been announced before the Oscars, the acting awards have become very predictable since the acting branch's votes naturally match the SAG votes nearly every time. This year's Oscars were also simplified for the public like most movies these days to a high concept pitch, in this case, it was billed as James Cameron vs. his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow. Regardless of any changes to the Oscars this year, they were guaranteed to have a good ratings year because of the presence of AVATAR, the new all-time box office champion. It didn't matter that the Best Picture field was expanded to ten nominees or who produced or directed this year's show, it was guaranteed to do better than it has in recent years.
The biggest change I noticed was the remodeling of the not very old yet Kodak Theatre, the seating looked different and was changed from red to blue. My favorite change (and one I hope will remain this way) was dropping the performances of the Best Original Song nominees and putting that award much earlier in the show. For years, so much time has been devoted to this music award at a movie award show while in the past the Best Picture nominees (the biggest and most important award) would be lucky to get a 30 second clip each while each song would be performed in its entirety. My least favorite change was dropping the lifetime achievement Oscars and Thalberg award to a private ceremony simply because it was felt that the show was slowed down by lengthy tributes to old people - not my opinion by the way. I wouldn't mind the show going over three hours by paying homage to great contributors to cinema like Lauren Bacall, Roger Corman, and Gordon Willis. Besides, let's face facts, they will be remembered for impacting the history of film a lot longer than Oscar winners like Mo'Nique! Another big change I noticed was having the presenters say, "the winner is" rather than "the Oscar goes to" for the first time in years. At first, it seems less appropriate, but on second thought, considering how many awards have been virtually "won" (and purchased) by relentless campaigning, maybe saying "winner" is more accurate. I am glad that the In Memoriam tribute was kept and I loved the tribute to John Hughes whose body of work has endured and will not be forgotten. However, some things never change: the obviously written and read jokes by the hosts and presenters, lame song and dance numbers (Neil Patrick Harris' show opening song and the choreographed dances to the Best Original Score nominees highlighted by doing the robot to UP!), and the awesome awkward reaction shots of actors not laughing at jokes and of actors not having anything to do with the film that just won an award.
Other highlights for me were: *Elinor Burkett rudely cutting off fellow winner Roger Ross Williams (MUSIC FOR PRUDENCE) to steal the short speech time! *The nervous young actresses who either flubbed their lines on stage (Miley Cyrus & Zoe Saldana) or coughed really loud (Kristen Stewart) while presenting *The hurry to present Best Picture by Tom Hanks without naming the ten nominees again, possibly an attempt to end the show at exactly 9pm Pacific/Midnight Eastern or because by then everyone knew that THE HURT LOCKER was going to win? Maybe they shouldn't have let Ben Stiller hog so much airtime dressed as a Na'vi or they should have cut the endless butt-kissing introductions of the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees by fellow actors.
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