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Green Bay Press-Gazette

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wolverine "jacks" up 2009 Oscars ratings, can't quite slash the length

And the Oscar goes to... Hugh Jackman!

No, really, Wolverine should get an award for spicing up what is normally a drudgery of a show, punctuated by painful acceptance speeches, gratuitous shots of Jack Nicholson looking pissed and Ryan Seacrest. OK, so there was no Jack this year on the Red Carpet, but there was a lot of Ryan Seacrest and we'll address that tragedy in a moment. A preliminary report shows that the ratings for the 2009 Academy Awards were up 6 percent, which sounds like a lot, but isn't much considering the audience for last year's boring, bumbling ceremony was the smallest ever for an Oscars telecast. But, let's credit Jackman for making the Oscars watchable, again. He was cute, he was satirical and, in spite of the ridiculous musical number, he kept the show moving to a pace that was ever-so-slightly faster than my grandma (compared to last year's glacial pace, that's pretty good).

Here are a few of our favorite and not-so-favorite moments from the Red Carpet and beyond.

Favorite Moments

Malavika: Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix impression. Eeriely reminiscent of Presidential candidate John McCain's wandering around the debate stage, Stiller perfectly captured the ridiculousness of Phoenix's recent appearances since his "retirement." Natalie Portman's line about him resembling a Hassidic Jewish meth head was a perfect zinger, and the whole thing came at the most boring part of the telecast.

Sara: When certain awards are given out -- no offense, sound mixing -- I tend to drift off. However, this wasn't the case when Kunio Kato came up to accept his award for Best Short Film (Animated). Typically a snoozer of an award, and acceptance speech, Kato made the best of his limited English. After simply saying "thank you" before each person or group of people who helped in the film's development ... "Thank you, my producers, thank you, my company, Robot, etc.," he ended completely awesomely with "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto." Best. Speech. Ending. Ever.

Adam: Not only did Kate Winslet finally win her Oscar, but she provided the evening's best moment during her acceptance speech when she called out to her father to whistle so she'd know where they were. He obliged, and camera quickly found the elder Winslet, decked out in a bad-ass, wide-rimmed black hat. It's Hollywood law for winners to thank their parents, but for Kate to actively engage them in her moment of glory was classy and heartwarming.

Adam and Malavika: Danny Boyle's shoutout to Tigger from Winne-the Pooh in his acceptance speech for Best Director mostly because it's hilarious to imagine the director of "Trainspotting" and "28 Days Later" as Tigger. Also we hear the British-Irish director's bottom really is made out of rubber, and that the cast and crew describe working with him as "bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!"

Kendra: Things didn't go so smooth when the "Slumdog Millionaire’" kids were subjected to Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet (see Malavika's post and cringe), but they fared much better when they bumped into Meryl Streep. During carpet coverage on the TV Guide channel (co-hosted by a horrendous-looking Lisa Rinna) the cameras captured Mama Meryl crouched down next to the kids and being all animated and gushing over them. Then one of the little cuties held up a notebook for her autograph. A rare genuine moment amidst all that posturing, posing and pretending.

Malavika: Peter Gabriel's refused to sing his nominated song from "Wall-E" actually kinda worked out. The John Legend (with the Soweto Gospel Choir) version coupled with the two nominated numbers from "Slumdog Millionaire" performed by A. R. Rahman was both a visual and listening treat. Jai Ho, indeed!

Adam: I haven't seen Best Documentary winner "Man on Wire" -- about Philippe Petit's daring high-wire walk between the World Trade Center buildings in 1974 -- but after Petit's charming acceptance last night I'm going to seek it out. Anybody who can balance a notoriously heavy Oscar statue on his chin deserves to have his movie seen.

Not-So-Favorite Moments

Kendra: Love a great musical ("The Sound of Music’"). Love even just a good musical ("Grease’"). But what I didn't love was Baz Luhrmann mashing them all up together in a hokey tribute to the genre that included "Mamma Mia!", that couple voted "High School Musical's" most likely to be overexposed and Beyonce's lip synching. I really didn't like that they wasted our time with that when it had been 90 minutes since the last award anybody cared about, Best Supporting Actress. Note to telecast producers: This is why the show is still four hours long.

Sara: I'm sorry -- love Hugh Jackman, love Beyonce -- but that tribute to musicals was just annoying. Perhaps it was the incorporation of "High School Musical"-ers, Vanessa Hudgens and Zak Efron, but man, I just felt like that dragged on for much longer than it should have. It was a musical tribute -- I shouldn't have been bored and wanting to switch channels, and yet, the only thing that kept me glued to the channel was the chance of a top hat dancer taking a spill on stage.

Malavika: Ryan Seacrest's interview with the "Slumdog Millionaire" kids. Seriously, somebody take the microphone away from this dipdoodoo. Seacrest couldn't pronounce their names, so he held up a piece of paper with their names written down at the camera because clearly THAT was going to help him. Then Seacrest fired a bunch of rapid questions at Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail (OK, that's a mouthful, but so are Marion Cotillard and Stellan Skarsgård) before someone had to tell him that the kid doesn't speak English . Luckily the kids saved it for him by being totally adorable and excited.

Sara: I love Jennifer Aniston. Love, love, love her. But I have to say her little award presentation with Jack Black was just awkward and uncomfortable. I know she was probably dealing with the stress of having to look directly at her ex Brad Pitt sitting with homewrecker Angelina Jolie, right in the front row, but I couldn't help but feel bad for her the entire time she was struggling through her lines. I was kind of hoping Jack Black would start doing somersaults to take the pressures off her or something.

Adam: The "In Memoriam" segment always induces some cringes, given the audience's determination to clap louder for one dead person over another, turning the entire proceedings into a macabre popularity contest. The producers probably thought having Queen Latifah sing "I'll Be Seeing You" as the montage rolled would be a good solution, but it didn't help that they only showed the clips full-screen half of the time, and relagated them to the background the rest of the time to show Latifah belting out her song. And we could STILL hear the audience clapping more for their favorites. (Luckily there's this clip on YouTube of the entire montage.)

If there are other gems that we left out, moments that stuck out as either horrendous or brilliant, do let us know by leaving a comment or two.

Earlier today, two of Channel Surfing's own blog crew and another Press-Gazette Oscar junkie dished out the best, worst and the Miley Cyrus of the 2009 Awards. Read the transcript here.

--Malavika Jagannathan,; Adam Reinhard,; Sara Boyd,; Kendra Meinert,



THANK YOU for saving me from being the only one who didn't like the In Memoriam montage. I hated the way it was over produced. And see Man on Wire. It trudges along at times, but you find yourself rooting for trespassing vandals.

By Blogger Ms. Quarter, At February 23, 2009 at 9:45 PM  

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