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 V.18 No.8 | February 19 - 25, 2009 

Idiot Box

Good to Gold?

“The 81st Annual Academy Awards” on ABC

The Academy Awards, like most awards shows, exists mostly for people to complain about afterwards. Why was it so long? What was she wearing? How could that win Best Picture? It’s an important social steam valve that allows us all to vent minor frustrations around the office water cooler while avoiding other, more controversial topics of discussion (the war in Iraq, President Obama’s economic stimulus plan, “The Hills”—real or fake?).

Much as we complain about it, an awful lot of us are there, each and every year, watching as the envelopes are ripped open, the winners drip tears into their Harry Winston necklaces and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president explains the voting rules in a dull monotone. Of course, that isn’t to imply that old man Oscar doesn’t have his ups and downs. So let’s take a tour through this year’s possible post-Oscar complaints.

Hugh Jackman Is No Billy Crystal—In case you weren’t informed, Jackman is the Sexiest Man Alive. (At least he was in 2008.) He’s at the top of his game thanks to his continuing role as Wolverine in the X-Men films and the upcoming spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (We’ll just ignore Australia for now—most moviegoers have.) But can he host? Believe it or not, the guy nabbed a Tony Award in 2004 for his singing-and-dancing role in The Boy from Oz. He did more than 350 performances of that musical, leading some to believe he’s got decent stage presence. We’ll have to wait and see on this one.

I Didn’t See Any of the Nominees—It’s no secret that ratings for the Oscar telecast have been down since a record 57.25 million viewers tuned in to watch Titanic capture Best Picture in 1998. Ceremonies honoring films that have not performed well at the box office tend to show weaker ratings. So why not goose the numbers with some star power? The Academy was formed to honor the art of science of filmmaking; there’s no reason they should reward popular films. (If they did, we’d start seeing gold statues for Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Paul Blart: Mall Cop.) Still, this was the perfect year to honor box office smashes The Dark Knight and Wall·E with Best Picture nods. Both have captured numerous awards already and wouldn’t look at all out of place on the podium. That kind of snub just makes Oscar look like a snob.

Where Were the Other Best Songs?—Best Song performances are traditionally a “get up and go to the bathroom” moment. But they don’t have to be. This year, the Academy only managed to locate three worthy songs in all the films of 2008--and two of them were from Slumdog Millionaire? Bruce Springsteen didn’t get nominated for his haunting song from The Wrestler because it played during the credits? And Peter Gabriel isn’t performing his song from Wall·E on the telecast because producers would only let him sing a truncated version? Obviously, Oscar is tone-deaf as well.

“The Oscars Red Carpet 2009” coverage begins on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. on KOAT-7. The live telecast of “The 81 st Annual Academy Awards” begins at 6:30 p.m. on KOAT-7.

 
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