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Monday, February 23, 2015

The Oscars are alive with the sound of Gaga

I give last night's 87th Annual Academy Awards and first-time host Neil Patrick Harris a disappointing grade of C-. Here I thought he might become the next Johnny Carson or Billy Crystal, but now I predict that he will suffer the same fate as David Letterman, who was never asked back after his infamous 1995 "Oprah, Uma" joke. Neil wasn't as bad as James Franco or Seth MacFarlane, but sadly he just wasn't his usual amusing self as most of his attempts at humor fell flat. And the telecast itself was long and often boring - but, thankfully, there were some memorable highlights. So let's move on to the best and the worst of the evening:

NPH's Opening Musical Number: He began with a "slip of the tongue" by referring to this year's nominees as the "best and whitest" - but the producers made sure that there were many presenters/performers of color. As for his "Moving Pictures" number with the lovely Anna Kendrick and Jack Black, it was good - especially the impressive projections. But Neil's night went downhill after that - well, except maybe for his tighty-whities moment.

Best NPH Joke Runner-Up: "It takes a lot of balls to wear a dress like that" made me laugh (in reference to the interesting gown worn by film producer and Oscar winner Dana Perry).

Best NPH Joke: "Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s not only the most awesome name in show business - it’s also the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce 'Ben Affleck.'"

Best Comedy Bit: After his robe got caught in his dressing room door, NPH appeared on stage in his tighty whities (à la Birdman's Michael Keaton) and told us that "acting is a noble profession".

Worst Comedy Bit: NPH's Oscar predictions in a locked box with poor Octavia Spencer designated to guard them. I assumed that it would be his actual predictions instead of just a lame magic trick that went on forever and bombed.

Best Musical Performance: Lady Gaga's wonderful Sound of Music medley in honor of the film's 50th anniversary.

Best Surprise: Julie Andrews, of course, who showed up after Gaga's number to present the Best Original Score Award - and doesn't she look fabulous for 79?

Hollywood Royalty: The only presenter from Hollywood's Golden Age (1927-63) was 80-year-old Shirley MacLaine - but I will include Ms. Andrews as well since she made Mary Poppins in 1964. And wouldn't it be nice to see an entire telecast of only past Oscar winners - or even nominees - as presenters? I have nothing against young Hollywood actors in hit films, but I prefer to see Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep.

Most Unnecessary Musical Number: Did we really need to see Jennifer Hudson sing AFTER the "In Memoriam" tribute? No, but I guess she and/or the producers wanted us to watch her and not the honored deceased. As for the tribute itself, why were Joan Rivers, Elaine Stritch, Polly Bergen and James Bond villain Richard Kiel left out? It doesn't make any sense - especially when Ms. Hudson got plenty of airtime.

Hottest Hunk at the Oscars: Chris Evans

Most Gorgeous Gal at the Oscars: Zoe Saldana

Funniest Presenter: Jared Leto, who joked that "they are four women, plus, in accordance with California State Law, Meryl Streep” when presenting the Best Supporting Actress Award.

Most Amusing Couple: Presenters John Travolta and Idina Menzel, who had some fun reminiscing about his "Adele Dazeem" fuck-up last year.

Best Expression: Oprah seemed genuinely thrilled when she received a Lego Oscar during the "Everything Is Awesome" musical number from The Lego Movie.

Meryl Streep's Favorite Speech: Just like at the Golden Globes, Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) read her "thank yous" from a piece of paper - but at least she got Ms. Streep excited with her Norma Rae "equal pay for women" moment (which I agree is an important issue). I'm sure she didn't want to forget to thank someone, but I found her speech boring to watch until the end.

Best Speech Honorable Mention: A tie between Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore, who won Best Actor and Best Actress for their performances in The Theory of Everything and Still Alice (click here to watch his speech). I am especially happy for Ms. Moore, who has received four previous nominations - beginning with 1997's Boogie Nights - and she has come a long way since her Daytime Emmy-winning role as Frannie and Sabrina Hughes on As the World Turns.

Most Handsome Husband: Director/screenwriter Bart Freundlich, who is nine years younger than his wife, Julianne Moore (who will now live five years longer by having won an Oscar).

Best Speech Runner-Up: J.K. Simmons, who won Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash, gave a nice speech about calling your parents without an endless list of "thank yous" to everyone under the sun. Click here to watch his speech.

Best Speech: 33-year-old Graham Moore, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, gave a heartfelt and moving speech that hopefully was heard by many "weird" kids who don't feel that they belong. He also thanked presenter Oprah Winfrey, which was cute. Also, Mr. Moore is apparently a straight man - not that there is anything wrong with that, but my gaydar was quite surprised to learn this news.

The Grand-est Awards of the Night: The brilliantly talented Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors, but none of his films have ever won an Oscar - until last night when The Grand Budapest Hotel deservedly took home the awards for Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design and Best Original Score.

Most Amusing Thank You: Birdman co-writer Nicolás Giacobone, who won Best Original Screenplay, thanked his dog Larry.

Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Best Picture: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (I was expecting director Richard Linklater's Boyhood to win Best Picture and/or Best Director, but Patricia Arquette took home the film's only award).

And that, folks, is my review (click here for a complete list of the winners). I had a dismal year with my predictions, correctly selecting only 8 out of the 24 categories. But I did much better with with my predictions for this year's Razzie Awards - 7 out of 10 categories - which were announced on February 21. Below are the "lucky" Razzie winners:

Worst Picture: Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas
Worst Actor: Kirk Cameron in Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas
Worst Actress: Cameron Diaz in The Other Woman and Sex Tape
Worst Supporting Actor: Kelsey Grammer in The Expendables 3, Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return , Think Like a Man Too and Transformers: Age of Extinction
Worst Supporting Actress: Megan Fox in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Worst Director: Michael Bay for Transformers: Age of Extinction
Worst Screen Combo: Kirk Cameron and his ego in Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas
Worst Screenplay: Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas (written by Darren Doane and Cheston Hervey)
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel: Annie
Razzie Redeemer Award: Ben Affleck (From Razzie “Winner” for Gigli to Oscar darling for Argo and Gone Girl)

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