To the Oscar grouches

Posted by · 10:05 am · February 27th, 2009

Hugh Jackman at the 81st annual Academy AwardsAlright, we already we handled the “Slumdog Millionaire” backlash and overall sense of hatred toward the film from movie-goers who simply couldn’t handle the boredom of an awards season that was written.  Today, it’s time to take the folks to task who couldn’t get to their computers quickly enough to bemoan the Academy’s presentation of 25 honors Sunday night.

Patrick Goldstein and Mary McNamara were two of the first to cut loose, leaving their own LA Times colleague T.J. Simers to wonder if they thought they could have done a better job.  And we all knew Nikki Finke was going to breathe fire because that’s what crotchety dragons do.

And yet, despite the sniping — ratings were up.  And they’ll probably go up again next year just due to the anticipation created by this year’s telecast, which was the plan all along.

Pete Hammond, in his final installment of Notes on a Season this year, addressed the issue with this wrap-up of the reaction to the reaction:

It was fitting that it all ended Sunday night with an Oscar ceremony that was one for the ages — a beautifully produced show by Bill Condon and Laurence Mark that captured everything we still love about movies and the Academy Awards. Those bloggers, columnists and critics out there who were panning it before it was even over have had to run back into their holes and take cover from the vociferous reaction, in and out of the industry, to their ill-conceived attack.

“I don’t get the criticism,” one longtime academy member told me Monday. “This was an amazing show. You could just feel it in waves as it went along. Those guys [Condon and Mark], they are really good.”

I’m told the academy itself was fielding numerous calls complaining about the complainers — but, hey, everyone is entitled to an opinion even if it was formed before the show made it to the air. You can’t please everyone, but with this production the Academy got back on track — and the 13% increase in ratings was the cherry on top. Here’s hoping this team returns next year. Clearly, the public still has a jones on for the Oscars when they are produced with smarts and style.

Smack down.

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

7 responses so far

  • 1 2-27-2009 at 10:17 am

    Loyal Mehnert said...

    I would welcome everyone back with open arms and hopefully, a much better slate of BP nominees.

    As for the Slumdog backlash, I’m not sure when it’ll die down.

    One of the child actors was apparently briefly beaten by his father during an appearance in Mumbai. Reality crashing down can be harsh.

  • 2 2-27-2009 at 11:50 am

    Mikey Filmmaker said...

    I guess you can’t please everyone. I thought the show was great and can’t wait for next year’s.

  • 3 2-27-2009 at 12:02 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Yikes, as someone who wasn’t entirely sold on the ceremony, I guess I’ll just “run back into my hole.”

    Parts of it worked for me, parts of it really didn’t. I don’t really understand why everyone apparently has to be of a like mind.

  • 4 2-27-2009 at 2:45 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Some of the criticism was way too harsh and pessimistic. The change was good and next year will be even better.

  • 5 2-27-2009 at 7:40 pm

    Da'Tarvia said...

    After reviewing the winners of the 81st Academy Awards (Oscars), I must say I was overwhelmingly relieved that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt did not win in the category of Writing (Adapted Screenplay). Although it received numerous nominations and was victorious in the categories of Visual Effects, Make-Up and Art Direction, the film did not portray an accurate depiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary work.

    I was simply marveled at Taraji P. Henson’s mammy role in film and found myself repulsed and perplexed about the implementation of such character. For those who have not read Fitzgerald’s short story, this “Mama” character is no where to be found! It is the extreme and disappointing imagination of the film writer, Eric Roth.

    Mama, a stereotyped character, is the relentless effort of many film makers to continue to confine African-American female actresses. Whether the image a stereotype projects is positive or negative, it still serves the purpose of limiting the range of human behaviors and emotions that viewers will ascribe to a stereotyped group; and as result, the creation of “flat” characters. As African-American women appeared in films throughout the 1930s as mammies and maids, Hattie McDaniels emerged with an Oscar for her mammy role in Gone With the Wind (1939). Although this transpired 70 years ago, maybe Roth was aiming to reenact history, as Taraji P. Henson was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

    Henson’s character as Benjamin’s Mama, and maid to all the other whites in the home, highly fears the Lord and finds pity on bizarre born Benjamin, after his biological father drops him off on the door step of an Elderly Care Center where Henson finds him, and where she and several other blacks work as maids and butlers. Henson rears Benjamin as her son, and like other traditionally stereotyped black female characters, she reverence God in her efforts to make morally just decisions, is extremely loyal to Benjamin, does not hesitate to lie, engages in pre-marital sex and even displays the typical sass of an angry black woman. What a minstrel show!

    Roth hit the hammer on the head with the recreation of the mammy figure. Nevertheless, I am still quite baffled at his creation. Fitzgerald writes of a baby who was indeed born bizarre (mother dies while giving birth- born aged becomes younger); however, he also gave this boy a loving father, Mr. Thomas Button – who rears him with superb fairness. Maybe that father-son story would have been too much like the Pursuit of Happiness for Eric Roth, but this revised Curious Case of Benjamin Button is too much like a minstrel Forrest Gump remix to me.

  • 6 3-01-2009 at 3:56 pm

    Glenn said...

    Guy, there are people like you who may not have loved the ceremony but can be rationale about it and not go around saying it was an abortion of a ceremony or the worst of all time. Those people wouldn’t have been satisfied with anything.

  • 7 3-02-2009 at 5:30 am

    Eunice said...

    @Guy: The rational kind of criticism you just gave is what they needed. Efron, Hudgens and Pattinson’s appearances didn’t work for me, so it wasn’t a 100% perfect, but it was definitely better than the most recent ceremonies.

    @Glenn: Agreed. 100%. Thank you.