Odds & Sods: Laughing Academy Edition

the-who odds--sods

All awards shows are terrible so I only watch one, the granny of them all, the Laughing Academy Awards aka Oscars. Twitter is pretty darn entertaining during awards shows as it gives you an excuse to ignore the *really* bad or annoying bits. And there are always oodles of those. Here in no particular order are some random and scattered observations about the Oscars:

Famous People Have Just As Much Difficulty Separating Public and Private Spheres As Us Mere Mortals: Jeez, that was a long ass title. The prime examples are John Travolta with his face squeezing and general creepiness, and Sean Penn busting the chops of his old friend Alejandro Innaritu with the unfunny green card joke. It wouldn’t be funny in a bar or at a party but it set the tweeter tube ablaze because you’re in public, Sean, and Twitter is an ignorant context free motherfucker. Btw, Travolta won the award for the worst wig I have ever seen. Yikes.

The Actor/Actress Who Plays A Character With A Disease Or Disability Always Wins: It happened again this year with, Eddie Redmayne,  the dude who played Stephen Hawking. I thought the popularity of Birdman meant that Michael Keaton would win since he was the best thing about that movie, but he was merely a depressed asshole as opposed to sick or disabled. Anyone remember either Cliff Robertson or the movie Charly? I thought not.

As to Julianne Moore, she had 2 rules of the Laughing Academy in her favor: disease and the “much nominated, we love her, so it’s her turn” rule.

I’ll continue doing the nattering nabob of negativism thing after the break.

Unexpected Highlight: When they started the Sound Of Music tribute I groaned and tweeted sulphurously. I’m on record as hating that movie despite my affection for its director and stars. I’m also more of a Rodgers and Hart fan than a Rodgers and Hammerstein guy. Give me Pal Joey any day. BUT Lady Gaga kicked ass on that medley and it was fun to see her with Julie Andrews who, for some reason, decided to dress like a nun. It’s a pity she didn’t come as Victor/Victoria. Time to be agog over Teevee Gaga:

In this era of pro-tools and other studio trickery, people were astonished that she could sing this well. Just remember that Tony Bennett wanted to work with her, not vice versa. She even made me praise the Sound Of Fucking Music. Damn you, Gaga.

Running Gags: Doogie’s prediction box was one of the worst running jokes I’ve ever seen. It was compounded by having Octavia Spencer in the role of its keeper, which reminded me of Hattie McDaniel and her “it just ain’t fitting” mantra from Gone With The Wind. I guess she was selected to make the event less white or some such shit but it wasn’t funny and they didn’t tell her in advance. The “pay-off” laid an egg and as Ms. McDaniel would have surely said, “it just ain’t funny.” One of my Twitter people proposed a much better pay off:

There *were* some excellent running gags on Twitter, particularly the ones involving Michael Keaton’s rather ferocious gum chewing, which led inevitably to a spoof Twitter handle, Michael Keaton’s Gum. I contributed this after Keaton didn’t win best actor:

The Running Sore: I’d heard what a good job Neil Patrick Harris did hosting the Tonys, but even people who liked him in that role panned his underwear wearing ass. They’d brought Ellen Degeneres in because she’d done well hosting the Emmys and she flopped too. It seems that, in the social media era, this is an impossible job. I thought Seth McFarlane did a pretty good job-at least he wasn’t boring like NPH-and enjoyed Billy Crystal’s one year return, which was also widely panned. The Laughing Academy wants to please everybody and that’s just not possible. Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, and Billy Crystal set the gold standard and they’d get ripped today. I’d bring back Chris Rock, which could help defuse the whole #WhiteOscars thing and piss off Sean Penn; always a good thing.

Maybe Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the answer but the Doogie and Ellen precedents are not reassuring. Still, it’s always good to see those two and Tina can write better jokes in her sleep than the ones  written for NPH.

The Worst Moment: Every year they try and make the Oscars shorter. It never works so why bother? In recent years, they have turned the career achievement awards into a sideshow. This year’s honorees included the amazing Harry Belafonte, John Ford’s favorite actress, Maureen O’Hara, and the great Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki. The Laughing Academy is so desperate to be down with the kids that it’s kicking its own glorious past in the teeth.  Guess what: the kids still don’t give a shit. I recall when awards to Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin,  and Barbra Stanwyck among others were the highlight of the whole tedious affair. I thought of one past honoree while fuming over the Belafonte/O’Hara/Miyazaki snub: Kirk Douglas would have refused to be part of a sideshow, declined the award, and told them to shove the special Oscar up the Academy’s collective ass. Now that’s a movie star, y’all.

The Winners:  I liked Birdman but it hasn’t worn as well in my memory as Boyhood, which is a truly remarkable film. Also, the best thing about Birdman was Michael Keaton, who gum chewing aside, I’ve always identified with. He should have won for best actor and the film should have been runner up to Boyhood, which took audacity and tenacity to produce over a 13 year time span.

The rest of the acting awards pleased me. I’m always happy when a career character actor like JK Simmons wins in the supporting category. And who doesn’t love Patty Arquette and Julianne Moore?

I also thought the best nominated song won, so I’ll give John Legend and Common the last word with their deeply moving song,  Glory, from Selma. Their speeches were good  too but this post is long enough without spending more time on the politics of this year’s Oscars:



6 thoughts on “Odds & Sods: Laughing Academy Edition

  1. “The Actor/Actress Who Plays A Character With A Disease Or Disability Always Wins”… Anyone remember either Cliff Robertson or the movie Charly? I thought not.”

    I do. Pretty well. A sort of earlier version of “Awakenings” (for which DeNiro was nominated and didn’t win, though he should have.)

  2. First of all, I too remember CHARLY and Cliff Robertson. I also remember MY LEFT FOOT and Daniel Day Lewis and PHILADELPHIA and Tom Hanks and SCENT OF A WOMAN and Al Pacino and I could keep going on because the list is as long as that Polish directors acceptance speech.

    The only one of BIRDMAN’s awards I quibble with is for the screenplay. 4 writers can create an original screenplay only if three of them are there to get coffee.

    Hosting this show is a no win situation, but the writers and NPH missed what could have made an interesting running gag. “Best and whitest, er, brightest” and “he couldn’t be here for some treason”, if they had kept up with that kind of unintentional intentional word faux pas that would have allowed the audience to see NPH as the guy saying what they were thinking. And the Oscars need a healthy dose of snark now and then.

    I hate THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Honoring it’s fiftieth anniversary just reminds me that I’ve hated it for 50 years. But Lady Gaga hugging Julie Andrews is one of those Oscar moments that will be remembered for a long time. As for the actual nominated songs, if they wanted to cut down the running time of the show they should just say “yeah there are five nominated songs, but three of them are stinkers from movies you never saw, so here are a couple of production numbers for the two that have at least a chance of winning”.

    My friend Rick’s mother lives next door to JK Simmons. Yes, Rick gave her a call last night. Of course it was to say that he thought the TV was telling him what to do.

  3. Sometimes the critics really get into the disease of the week thing. I remember one year we went to see The Elephant Man on Broadway. Then came Who’s Life is it Anyway?. Then we were going to see Children of a Lesser God, but we just couldn’t take it. Granted, the big round of AIDS plays came after that. (e.g. Angels in America, Prelude to a Kiss, and probably others, but some metaphors are best left unexplored).

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