Monday 23 February 2009

"The Recession Era"

So this is what we will come to call these years, should they ever pass.

"He sang, he danced, he sat on Frank Langella’s lap and he also presented the 81st annual Academy Awards. Hugh Jackman was a shrewd, even thrifty choice for a recession-era Oscar night — the hosting equivalent of a value meal.
But mostly the actor was chosen to be the first noncomedian Oscar host in more than 30 years for what he didn’t do: deride Hollywood. Mr. Jackman was high-spirited, not mean-spirited. He spoke with sass, but unlike more satirical predecessors like Chris Rock and Jon Stewart, there were no smirks; he came to the task with Broadway sizzle, not a stand-up routine.
The movie industry was in no mood for mockery, and perhaps in no condition for it. Every Oscar ceremony tries to reclaim old Hollywood glamour; this one tried to suit the times by reverting straight to old Depression-era glamour. "

NY Times: A Dose of Deference and Earnest Showbiz, February 23, 2009

By the way, I quite enjoyed the show this year. Many things were different, Hugh Jackman did a fantastic job and being nice without boring (OK, I admit, the accent helped) - the segment for those who died last year was done brilliantly and lacked the awkwardness of previous years when nobody quite knew whether to clap or remain in silence (especially when they weren't sure if they had heard of the deceased individual) - this time, whatever they did was overshadowed by Queen Latifah, singing a song. I also liked the idea that rather than one person presenting the award, a whole group of previous winners would do the job, each getting one nominee. I especially liked the fact that they decided to let Nicole Kidman introduce Angelina Jolie rather than Sophia Loren, and I always feel happy to see Shirley MacLaine (she played the wise woman telling Anne Hathaway she would have a great career, and the only thought in my mind was "The Children's Hour" because Hathaway reminds me of Audrey Hepburn).
I haven't seen "Slumdog Millionaire" this year but generally I was glad for most of the winners, even if I enjoyed previous works more than what they got the award for (especially Kate Winslet - I had to read "The Reader" by Schlink in school and never liked it, there has been a broad discussion about whether it deals with its topic well or not, and there is such a wide range of stunningly better movies with Winslet available ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Heavenly Creatures", "Little Children", "Iris"). Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" is one of my favourite zombie apocalypse movies of all times but naturally, this is not the genre you usually get an award for. "Milk" is not my favourite movie by Gus Van Sant, but Sean Penn did deserve the award for his impersonation of Harvey Milk (and I haven't seen "The Wrestler" to say whether Mickey Rourke should have gotten the recognition).
Jackman's opening sketch, which seemed to be conceived in the spirit of "Be Kind, Rewind" (and, as I keep telling myself, possibly "Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog", but I guess they were referencing Slumdog with the musical...), was well-done, but has apparantly gotten a "see, it's a recession! They use paper-cut props! They can't afford special effects! WE ARE DOOMED!" reaction. But if the beginning of a bad period starts with Hugh Jackman casting Anne Hathaway as Richard Nixon, it's fine with me. They also kinda bribed me into liking the show by inviting Tina Fey, because secretly, the tv show business will always be way closer to my heart than the big movie business.

The Economist: And the loser is…, February 21, 2009
Salon: Are the Oscars recession-proof?, February 23, 2009
Slate: Let's Talk Oscars, February 23, 2009


? said...

I missed this. You must have seen it coming!

flame gun for the cute ones said...

Oh the "we are doomed, it's a recession" part? Some time ago I looked through my past entries and found that the first time I recognized the crisis was back in September, when Greenspan said that the chances of avoiding a major economic crisis were less than 50%. I just thought the New York Times articles about the Awards was so funny, mentioning the Great Depression in almost every paragaph. You know it's serious when something as purely pop and kitsch and entertaining as the Oscars gets that kind of coverage.