Monday, February 28, 2011

She jests at Oscars that never felt a wound

A family torn apart - Kodakotype by Pants

This year, the Question Why and I approach the Oscars with more than a smidge of sadness, for our little family is at war. Those of you who have been with us for a while, (and you have our sympathies for that), will be aware that our erstwhile owly-cat was developing ideas far estranged from his appointed station. It was only a matter of time before Barney would venture beyond his various oligarchical interests and into the world of show (off) business. We cannot comment further on Barney's Version as the matter is now sub judice. We can say, however, that The Pants Rebuttal is in pre-production and looking for investors. In addition, we are not best pleased with having to make our own eggs Vladivostok and fix our own drinks. We can only hope the judge takes that into account.

But we are troupers and we prime ourselves for Hollywood's fright of frights with domestic chardonnay, the memory of last year's atrocities still alarmingly fresh. Doogie Howser trying to sing. To paraphrase Nora Barnacle - Doogie should have stuck to keyhole surgery*. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin trying to get along and be funny at the same time - like trying to chew gum and swallow it simultaneously. And those weird, acrobatic representations of the Best Picture nominations. I can clearly remember 'he who is now dead to us' saying at the time that he thought powerful hallucinogenics must have been involved. For the life of me I can't recall whether he was referring to the them or us. No matter.

It's a new year and a new batch of films and, well, quite a lot of them are good. We never forget that good films often make for tremendously bumptious ceremony and are licking our lips in anticipation. We find it remarkable that people who are trained, honed and paid several fortunes to speak, seem unable to when called upon to do it in front of an audience. It isn't difficult to work out why films cost so much to make once you've watched a couple of DVD featurettes though. Clearly, they're painstakingly assembled word by word from exhausted actors who've been woken at 3am, spent eight hours in makeup having various prosthetics attached, and then arrived on set only to expire after gasping out a couple of incoherent sentences.

A few minutes into the red carpet preamble, the Question Why and I start to feel uneasy. Something's wrong. No one is wearing anything even vaguely sniggery. No guffaw hair or lol bling either. We are already clawing for amusement potential. Is Mark Ruffalo really married to a woman called Sunrise? Her dress isn't brilliant, but it's no way Sarah Jessica Parker. Sandra Bullock's frock comes with its own padded seat but the front is gorgeous and she's so gracious and charming, that we can't contemplate finding mirth there. As Wimbledon veterans, we know only too well the value of a little padding when you have to sit and watch the same people doing the same thing for hours on end. Cate Blanchett's wearing a very elaborate pincushion. Perhaps she's got a quilt on the go. Where's SJP? We've got candyfloss withdrawal already.

And then it gets worse. The opening sequence, a montage of the nominated films splicing hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco into an imagined narrative, supposedly dreamt by Alec Baldwin, is genius. Alec Baldwin is the Hollywood miracle. You can forget your Mickey Rourkes and your Jeff Bridgeses. Alec Baldwin, like William Shatner before him, embraced and exploited his own caricature, turning a tank into a bank. The most fleeting appearance of Alec Baldwin now brings with it a virtual canon of cultural knowing. And finally, finally someone at Oscar HQ has worked out that movie people might prefer to contribute some of their CGI know-how to the party rather than squirm helplessly in their seats as they watch their movies represented in dance and mime.

The Question Why and I are initially elated but very quickly disturbed. What are we going to blog about? Normal service appears to resume after the montage culminates in a triumphant Back to the Future segue that transports our hosts into Kodak Theatre. Five minutes of asinine pantomime banter between Hathaways and Francos, younger and elder appears to be setting the world to rights. We are only halfway through tuning our critical forks, and then it all changes again. We haven't even had the chance to work out whether or not there's a joke in James Franco's Nana thinking she recognises a fanciable Marky Mark. Just to clarify, we do know that was meant to be a joke. But we are only interested in the joke about the joke. The jury is in the bar and ordering doubles on that one.

The award for Cinematography gives us an early opportunity for giggles. Wally Pfister (what a funny name, chuckle, chuckle), arrives to collect his award for Inception wearing an interesting (tee-hee) tiara,

Kodakotype by Pants

We laugh until we realise we are hungry (approximately 0.5 seconds). We have to admit it, we miss Barney's cordon bleu catering. We can toast with chardonnay but we can't as easily chardonnay with toast, if you know what we mean. It is with a certain amount of spite that we begin to hope that Barney's Version is as roundly snubbed as we feel right now.

Kirk Douglas hobbles into frame, having been described as 'a living legend' but looking more like he has escaped from the obits sequence. He appears to be a living, er, cadaver. Astonishingly, he is nearly coherent, and almost funny. And not that embarrassing, considering.

We are just thinking what is wrong with Hollywood when, Melissa Leo arrives to remind us of
where we are,

Kodakotype by Pants

Accepting her Best Supporting Actress Award, Leo says, and we quote in delirious verbatim,

'When I watched Kate [Winslet, presumably] two years ago, it looked so fuckin' easy'.

They bleep it in America but aren't so quick here in Australia, where we get the full joy of the first ever Oscarfuckutterance at 1pm. The Question Why and I are not flustered as we have heard the cuntutterance on The Book Show already today before lunch even, and not for the first time. But then Leo, seemingly oblivious to, or maybe empowered by her groundbreaking addition to the Oscars nomenclature commenced to yell, then cry, then yell again and wave her Oscar about madly and proclaim, 'It's about selling motion pictures and respecting the work.' In other words, an each way bet.

Shaun Tan wins Best Animated Short for The Lost Thing. We love him and hope he does as well as Adam Elliot, whom we also love. Toy Story 3 wins for Best Animated Feature, kicking off a slew of sure-thing announcements. The King's Speech. The Social Network. The King's Speech, etc. We fidget with our toast soldiers, catapulting bits of our substandard eggs Vladivostok at each other and bickering over whose turn it is to get another bottle of chardonnay. Russell Brand and Helen Mirren are funny, and sweet.

Kodakotype by Pants

Okay, bored now. No frock fright. Where is SJP? No one drunk or stoned or suffering from a discernible mental illness. What is going on? 'Are we the only scallywags left on the planet?' posits the Question Why. Apparently. Then, blessed relief. Enter Oprah,

Kodakotype by Pants

... dressed as a bowling-ball bag.

Then it's back to Decorum Central. Anne Hathaway sings a little spoof aimed at Hugh Jackman, who, it seems, should have been up there with her. He appears none too thrilled to be chastised but an actual scowl would have been nice. He's obviously still feeling a little sheepish after his own atrocity of a routine two years ago. What? They're demonstrating judgement now? Where will this all end?

Hathaway continues to arrive onstage in a series of what we can only describe as 'gowns'. This is actual finery as opposed to some pinched queen's idea of spiteful humiliation. The poise, the elegance. It's all too much. What were all the ill-advisers doing this year? (Don't worry, it'll look great on. It's amazing what a little Blu-Tack can do). They can't all have rushed to Colonel Gaddafi's sartorial aid.Where is SJP?

A medley of songs, arranged sumptuously for orchestra. A genuinely clever musical mash-up turning bits of dialogue into song. The Question Why and I are in uncharted waters here. We are having to resort to to supplement our vocabulary which, it must be said, has not been compiled for tasks beyond ridicule. We think what we are witnessing might be dignified, sophisticated even. And then we realise with horror that what we are seeing here is actually tasteful. We're not sure that this is even legal, which is why we've come to the conclusion that Barney is somehow implicated.

We can only hope against hope that sanity will prevail and the Best Actor and Actress announcements will be preceded by interminable, hideously gushing testimonials from a selection of previous winners like last year's which left us gagging on our vodkamisu. No such luck. Short. Tasteful. Appallingly so. This is like watching a theatreful of Roger Federers.

And then, a grand finale of statements of the painfully obvious. The King's Speech. Natalie Portman. Colin Firth. The King's Speech. The edges of our seats remain conspicuously under-occupied. We aren't watching next year, not unless SJP is in every movie.

*Nora Barnacle apparently announced, on the publication of husband James Joyce's Ulysses, 'Jimmy should have stuck to singing'.