Statuesque: Oscar 2011 Postmortem

Before we get down to analyzing who won which Academy Awards and why those winners outrage me to the point of Charlie Sheen-esque rants, we probably should first discuss the Oscar broadcast itself. Because, really, have you ever seen anything like it before? (And I don’t mean that in a good way.)

As I texted someone after the show was over, it was about one backwards-talking dwarf away from being a David Lynchian nightmare. Between the shuttered, awkward tone and rhythm of the night, to Kirk Douglas’ madcap/sad appearance, to the way that Anne Hathaway and James Franco more or less bungled their way through relatively minimal hosting duties (and, truth be told, Franco Tweeted a video right before the show that warned, “It could be really bad”), this was easily the most befuddling Oscar broadcast since David Letterman hosted back in 1994.

Unlike Letterman’s show, which had a zany sense of spontaneity and barely-managed chaos (remember the “Would you like to buy a monkey?” montage?), last night’s ceremony was dullsville, daddy-o. It was weird-bad, not weird-weird, and man did it drag. Thankfully, people were at their snarky best on Twitter (shameless plug: Follow me!), with loads of indignity lobbed at ‘The King’s Speech’ winning for Best Picture and Best Director.

In the narrative of Harvey Weinstein’s “comeback,” exemplified by a story in last month’s Vanity Fair, people fail to acknowledge that Weinstein had very little to do with ‘The King’s Speech’ other than pimping it. He acquired the movie at the Toronto Film Festival a few months ago, so he couldn’t even bound up there to accept the award.

What a lackluster night… Capped off by that dreadful moment with the poor PS-22 kids up there with the winners, all those rich white folk who will now be richer (but, thankfully, not whiter)… It was an undignified end to an undignified show, in which a movie about a king’s speech impediment, which carried with it zero emotional or dramatic weight, triumphed over a movie about a technology that changed our lives (and the fundamental human flaws behind it). Oh well.

I’m glad that Trent Reznor won for Best Original Score (with Atticus Ross), and that ‘Inception’ won for Visual Effects and the sound awards. While I was offering some contrarian points of view for why ‘Toy Story 3’ really didn’t need its Best Animated Feature Oscar, I’m still pretty stoked that it won. Besides that, both the awards show and what was awarded kind of left me cold, in a way that few Oscar broadcasts have. (See all the winners here.)

If there was one great speech, it came from the perennially classy Steven Spielberg, who reminded viewers of the films that had won Best Picture and all of the great ones that hadn’t. (He should know, having lost out for ‘Jaws’, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, ‘E.T.’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’, and ‘Munich’.) Still, the win for ‘King’s Speech’ will be looked back upon with dazed confusion, alongside ‘Rocky’ and ‘Crash’ as one of the worst Best Picture decisions, like, ever.

But I don’t want to end this on a negative note. (I’m sure the comments will take us there anyway.) So I’m going to say thanks to everyone for reading my Oscar posts this season and commenting on them passionately. You best believe I’ll be back with more this fall.


  1. “…a movie about a technology that changed our lives…”

    I’m not even going to debate whether the movie was overrated or overhyped, but certainly to suggest that Facebook has changed anything about our lives is going a bit too far, don’t you think?

    Social Networks had already been around for years before Zuckerberg hit the scene. He did it better than the others based on membership numbers, but all he really did was (to paraphrase) stand on the shoulders of others and call himself tall. And now that the site is increasingly bending to the will of companies and feeds are quickly filling up with garbage, the site’s downfall should make an equally interesting movie.

      • The funny thing is, I wonder if chad had even seen the movie, or ever used more than one social network. In fact, in the begining of the movie, the question is asked “How is this different from Friendster or Myspace?” I was on Myspace and Xanga, spent a pretty good amount of time on them. Myspace was EXTREAMELY popular a few years back. Neither of them changed my life. Facebook did.

  2. I’m not going to say that this year’s Oscars were great by any means, but I really don’t think they were that bad. Franco being super-baked and then disappearing in the middle was a highlight 🙂

    I could see it being an issue if you take the Oscars seriously, but it’s been a long time since I’ve put any value in the actual awards. :p

  3. I’ll be honest, I was so busy managing the contests for the liveblog that I wasn’t paying much attention to the actual show. I feel like I missed half of it. Of what I did see, I thought that Hathaway was fine, but Franco seemed like he had checked out before the ceremony even began.

  4. It’s now become fashionable to bash the Oscar telecast – but it wasn’t THAT bad. In fact, it was WORLDS better than last year, when Baldwin and Martin co-hosted. It was also better than the years hosted by Jon Stewart, Ellen DeGeneres, and Chris Rock.

    Also, every year we pretty much know (or are at least 95% sure) who is going to win…yet people still throw fits about it. If anyone seriously thought THE SOCIAL NETWORK was going to win Best Picture or Fincher was going to win BEST DIRECTOR, you weren’t paying very close attention.

    Other than Leo’s “f-bomb” there were no major controversial moments, no big gaffes, no embarassing moments for the Academy. In other words, a completely “safe” and non-memorable show…exactly what they had designed/wanted.

    • Alex

      Hear here! Though, I will say there’s was one other strange moment: the director of “Inside Job”‘s declaration that all of the bank executives should be thrown in the slammer. It was weird, it was awkward, it was out of place, and his co-director looked like she wanted to whack him over the head with the statuette for doing it.

      But I have a perma-crush on Anne Hathaway, and so for me, her charm lifted the whole proceeding.

      Plus, was it me, or did James Franco look stoned the whole night?

  5. Mike

    Alex, do you even know what Inside Job is about?! His comment about those executives involved facing criminal charges made perfect sense! If anything, his co-producer agreed with him, as do many, MANY others.

    • Alex

      I do know what it’s about. However, I still think it tacky and classless for someone, anyone, to take a glorious, shining moment where humility and gratitude would be most appropriate and twist it to try condemn others saying that they belong in jail. I thought it was tacky when Michael Moore did it, and I thought it was tacky here as well.

      • You’re a Republican, aren’t you? 🙂

        The Oscars have a long and sordid history of people using the podium to make obnoxious political rants, sadly.

        • Alex

          I’m not really a Republican, though I often do find myself voting that way. Generally speaking, I’d rather vote for someone with integrity who I disagree with over someone corrupt who I agree with, strange as that may sound.

          I do work in the financial world, though, and nothing’s quite as black and white as it seems, or as it’s portrayed in the media. That’s why, while I’m sure this fellow has done plenty of homework to derive his opinion, I think out and out condemnation of others in that kind of forum was inappropriate.

  6. “in which a movie about a king’s speech impediment, which carried with it zero emotional or dramatic weight, triumphed over a movie about a technology that changed our lives (and the fundamental human flaws behind it). Oh well.”


    “in which a low-budget moving character piece, about a king’s speech impediment (Not to mention set at the time when the individual’s overcoming of said speech impediment helped strengthen and support a nation to fight against the tyranny of a fascist army attempting to take over the world), which carried with it tons of emotional and dramatic weight, triumphed over a factually incorrect movie about a facile populist website technology that inexplicably wastes a lot of people’s time (and the fundamental human flaws behind it). Hoorah!” 😉

    It’s all about perspective lol! Personally, I loved the King’s Speech. Perfect? No, but a damn good film, on a low (these days) budget, with quite brilliant performances.

    On the other hand, Jesse Eisenberg with his emotionless drone, in a film about a website that’s currently popular? (Yes, yes I know the, “It’s not really about the website” argument) Couldn’t have been less interested… 😉

  7. EM

    “…a movie about a king’s speech impediment, which carried with it zero emotional or dramatic weight…”

    Drew, do you despise people with debilitating handicaps? or are you just callously indifferent to them?

    • I think Drew is just so passionate about THE SOCIAL NETWORK, that he slighted THE KING’S SPEECH. Personally, I think the difference is (and probably the reason KING’S SPEECH won) is that there are characters you can symphathize with in KING’S SPEECH. I’m not sure the same can be said in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Now, that SHOULDN’T be a reason to vote for one movie over the other (I personally, love films where there’s no sympathetic characters), but it’s probably the reason Oscar voters went one way instead of the other.

      • EM

        I, too, am capable of speculating about Drew’s motives; still, I think I’d prefer to read his own explanation, as it would likely be far more definitive.

  8. I think making a political comment on the subject of the documentary you just won an Oscar for is not only fine but expected. It’s a far cry from Leo or Sean Penn making a random shoutout to what ever cause they are into that week.

    and to be honest, it’s not really a “political” comment. It’s not about politics. If a doc about a massacre in the Congo won and the director said “the people who did these murders has to be put in jail”, I don’t think anyone would call it political rant.

    For someone to not forget there are things more important than getting awards and selling movies even while getting an award, would not be how I define “classless”. But then again I think the entire event is a little classless and masturbatory.

    and yes I agree The Social Network was robbed.