The 2011 Oscars: Boring, flat and uncomfortable

It took all of my energy to sit through the entire broadcast of The 83rd Academy Awards, but I did. I kept hoping it would pick up the pace with the next award, but it let me down most of the time. The show was slow, the musical numbers unnecessarily solemn, and though the hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, were young, fresh and vibrant, they just couldn't pull the enormous weight of the production they'd been handed. (At times it looked like the show was carried entirely by Anne Hathaway, didn’t it?)

Photo OK Magazine

The three hour awards show started with a delightful montage of the nominated films with Franco and Hathaway worked into each of the clips making fun of certain scenes.

Photo Daily Beast

They injected the few light moments of the entire broadcast right at the beginning (and got our hopes up that this irreverent pace would be the tone for the rest of the evening) but never recreated them.

One of the larger than life moments of the Awards was 94 year old Kirk Douglas walking on stage to present the Best Supporting Actress Award. Earlier this year his son, Michael Douglas, was also the first man on stage at the Golden Globes representing the Hollywood acting dynasty. After the longest presentation of the evening, Melissa Leo's expletive while accepting her Oscar made me stop mid-yawn and chuckle. (It must have been tough to finally let go of her character in The Fighter, so Leo let the audience and viewers have it one last time.)

Sprinkled throughout the show were attempts at giving the younger demographic a little attention; James Franco in drag (what was the point of that?), an unoriginal auto-tune of Harry Potter, The Social Network, Toy Story 3 and Twilight; and the multiple gown-changes, supervised by the popular and eight-months-pregnant stylists Rachel Zoe, host Anne Hathaway was subjected to providing one of the few dynamic visuals on stage. (Okay, this and she woo hooing every time after she announced the presenters also startled me awake to pay attention.)

But the show failed to take the cue from these few fast-paced pieces and instead continued its slow slide to snooze-ville.

Billy Crystal showed up midway as a presenter and got a standing ovation (deservedly so), but was unable to change the down-hill course of the program. The best technical feat of the evening was Bob Hope's holographic appearance along with him. This must have been an awesome sight sitting in the Kodak’s theater large auditorium.

I have to agree with some of the twitter comments with reference to Gweneth Paltrow. If there's someone who was surprised to hear her sing for the first time late last year, it was me! But, let's stop milking her talent with the country songs and moooove on.

And how could they have failed to convince Hugh Jackman to repeat the onstage sizzle he and Hathaway created last year? We were looking forward to that!

As for James Franco’s flat and uncomfortable demeanor on stage, well, more than a few tweets went by my stream claiming he was under the influence of something (and NYU will likely be influenced by his presence at the Oscars and might see a spike in college applications due to his public plugs).

There weren't many surprises on the list of winners this year either. If you saw the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, you saw practically the same winners give almost the same speeches. The only difference in their Oscar acceptance speeches was the lack of true surprise and genuine shock since most had already been on stages and podiums accepting other statues for their performances in the last few months.

There are always a few good messages one can take away from these elaborate awards shows that are worth noting. Natalie Portman has been conscious of thanking her parents each time she's accepted a trophy. At the Golden Globes she said that her parents had taught her not be an a**hole. At the Oscars, she said they had showed her how to be a good human being by example. I personally loved this acknowledgment. 

Aaron Sorkin demanded respect from his daughter’s Guinea Pig while David Seidler, who won for Best Original Screenplay for The Social Network, provided hope for those dreaming of taking the golden statue home one day: “My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer”. At 73, he is the oldest to win in this category.

The Red Carpet arrivals this year were by far the most entertaining part of the Academy Awards Show. There's never a dull moment when checking out the fashion hits and misses (by the way, the misses we're not that obvious to me this time around). The obvious Best Dressed winner of the evening was Anne Hathaway in her eight outfits, which included hair and makeup! (Her glam squad certainly worked overtime!)This might not be a fair call since the future Catwoman character was the only one who had eight chances to rectify any fashion misstep.

Did this year’s Academy Awards appeal to a younger demographic as intended with the young hosts of the mother of all awards shows? Maybe in the few energetic bits dispersed throughout the broadcast, but I don’t see how. As @Alexa90210 wrote, “If it weren't for Twitter, I would have nodded off more than a few times”. 

Even the competition between films was even. There was no mystery as The Social Network, a favorite among young-movie goers, The King Speech, a pleaser for the older folks, and Inception straddling both age groups were neck-in-neck for awards taking away much of the suspense. (Perhaps this was due to an exceptional year in film making.)

The Oscars this year was like watching a bad movie; we invested our time and resolved to give it chance waiting for it to get better, but it never did.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I agree with everything you said. I can't figure out why I sat through the whole thing though. I knew it was bad, why didn't I get up and do something else? Or change the channel?! No matter how bad, there's something magical about movies and celebrities that draws me in.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think this is the same reason I sat through the whole thing (and a few glasses of wine helped me stay put). In fact, I've noticed this year's shows, like the Grammys, seem so thrown together. I can't put my finger on it. Still fun, and more fun discussing it!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I agree with your synopsis. I thought it was going to be a good show from the beginning montage but fell flat after that. I do like that there was not a clean sweep from any one movie and that all the bigger movies got a piece of the Oscars. I like Anne Hathaway but it seems that her team wasn't quite there to support her. James Franco is good as an actor but not as a host (possibly nerves??). I didn't get that cross-dressing moment either but it did make for a good Charlie Sheen moment. It is quite interesting how much the actors/actresses are critiqued on their dress, it actually takes away from why they are there in the first place…to celebrate the best in cinema.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I missed the show but I'm glad to read your re-cap!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jen, I wonder if commercialization, like in many aspects of US culture, has taken the lead of Hollywood's biggest night. The gowns have priority with more hours of pre-show than the main event itself. At any rate, I think it's the fantasy and Cinderella moments of the fashion scene at the Oscars that attract many of us to watch this show. Glad you stopped by!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for reading!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I agree with your assessment–boring. And flat. Even the audience in the Kodak Theater lacked energy.
    I loved Kirk Douglas–94 years old and recovering from a stroke–was wonderful to see him on stage.
    I also loved the kid who won the award for Best Short Film. I think it is he who will be responsible for NYU getting a spike in applications–not that they need it.
    Other than those two moments, I found the show to be horrible. Almost like the producers were trying to replicate SNL.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I actually clicked off with about 30 minutes to go. My husband said reruns of “How I Met Your Mother” were more entertaining.
    I adore Anne Hathaway and anything she does is liquid gold IMHO. I love her real-ness. That being said, I cringed everytime she “woo-hoo”ed for a presenter…
    I also love James Franco, but not as a presenter….now Anne and someone more dynamic…that might work.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I wish I would have just skipped the Oscars and read your recap instead. Your post was miles more entertaining.
    I was right there with you on all your observations. A few highpoints — but just a few. I think Anne coulda been better with a more entertaining sidekick. But as it was, she couldn't carry the whole show on her own (which she was forced to do b/c Franco was a persona non-grata).

  10. Anonymous says:

    Excellent recap. My exact thoughts.
    James Franco's lack of interest in a classy 83 year old establishment was insulting. He was given an opportunity that most would in Hollywood would feel privileged to have and he crapped on it. Truly disgusting.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yes, horrible describes the torture we endured watching the Oscars. SNL gang would have done a better job.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I'm still asking myself why they chose Franco? Sweet-faced hunk or what? I think next year they have to get some professional comedians and not actors — unless it's Hugh Jackman and Anne again (maybe).

  13. Anonymous says:

    He was a complete disgrace! Knowing Hollywood, I wouldn't be surpised to hear 'glowing' reviews simply to keep him on top. Ugh.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I actually recorded it since I can't seem to sit for that long and impatiently wait for the awards to be handed out. Luckily, I didn't miss anything.
    I also recorded the E! Live from the Red Carpet and was disappointed that they focused so much attention on the “recap” of the same stars throughout the show.
    I ended up fast forwarding through most of the award ceremony, although I, too, loved Billy Crystal and the amazing Bob Hope “appearance.”
    The best part had to be the montage at the very beginning…definitely went down hill after that.
    The dresses were elegant and my favorites were Scarlet Johannsen's and of course Natalie Portman glowing in her pregnant-ness. Gwyneth Paltrow looked great too.

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