Monday, March 27, 2000

Another one bites the dust

Many years ago, before I had kids, before I had a husband who hates award shows, and before I lived on the East Coast where everything's three hours later, I used to throw big Oscar Night parties. My friends and I would dress up in gowns, sip champagne, and dis the proceedings. We'd all seen all the films and so had actual opinions. The evening was a highlight of my year.

Fast-forward about 12 years. I never see any movies, much less award-nominated ones. I'm in New Jersey, where the ceremony starts at 8:30 p.m. and ends the next day. It's hard to have a party that ends in the wee hours of a work morning, so we've scaled down to having our two closest friends over. We sit around in our sweats, drink red wine out of a box, and dis the proceedings. This year, three out of four of us actually managed to stay awake, which may be a record.

Maybe it's just that everything seems funner when you're younger, but the ceremony seems similarly anticlimactic to me these days. There were some improvements this year--the presenter's banter, while not altogether eliminated, was at least reduced to one limp exchange. Liked the two music montages, dozed through the multiple movie montages, thought Billy Crystal's opening inserted-into-films montage was not as funny as previous ones, nor were his song parodies. Tell Bruce Vilanch to get working on some new schtick.

It's probably impossible to produce an Oscar show that everybody approves of. Last night's seems to be getting generally good morning-after reviews, but I found it somewhat airless. Possibly too well-produced. Even Robin Williams seemed reined-in, which is no mean feat considering he was singing a profanity-laced song from "South Park." There were no spectacularly awful dresses or makeup jobs (possibly because Helen Hunt did not appear to be in attendance), no spectacularly embarrassing acceptance speeches, no spectacularly nonsensical dance numbers, no spectacularly corny Begnini-esque behavior, no spectacle at all, come to think of it. The dry ice around Isaac Hayes was about as over-the-top as it got.

And if it had been a corny, spectacular, over-the-top kind of night, I probably would have complained about that, too. It's bad enough to see how old stars like Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty (and Crystal and Williams, for that matter) are looking. It's worse to feel like an old coot myself because dang it, the Oscars used to be more fun back when I used to watch movies.

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