Must be the L.A. in me, but I love the Oscars. Give me gals in gowns, guys in tuxes (some of whom even remember to shave), a jokester emcee, a bunch of liberal pieties, some bad music, and the obligatory expressions of gratitude to a deity, and I'm happy to sprawl in front of the tube for three and a half hours. Last night was no exception (although I did put the laundry in the dryer during Celine Dion's aria; even I have my limits).
Some random observations:
- Ellen DeGeneres: winsome, harmless, badly dressed (I knew she wouldn't wear a gown, but the velvet leisure suit looked like it came from Anchorman's wardrobe department). In short: no Billy Crystal.
- The gospel choir: great idea. Should be compulsory on all awards shows.
- As always, the acceptance speeches for the short films--which few moviegoers get to see--were the most moving. These filmmakers, who toil in obscurity and subsist on ramen and yogurt, are the true artists of the industry. I wanted to see every one of the nominated shorts. Fortunately, the enlightened Landmark Theatre chain is screening all of them right now.
- Will Ferrell (coiffure by Bozo), Jack Black, John C. Reilly in a singing, dancing tribute to movie comedy: loved every silly second.
- And speaking of Jack Black, will someone please cast him and Philip Seymour Hoffman (who should have consulted Monsieur Bozo instead of Monsieur Cuisinart--or perhaps just a mirror--when he showed up in Hair and Makeup) as brothers in something?
- I thought the Pilobolus silhouette-dance numbers were magical and marvelous, but Cintra Wilson at Salon and Tim (Cranky Pants) Goodman at the S.F. Chronicle disagreed. They couldn't even be bothered to note the name of this highly original dance troupe. For shame.
- I'm happy to see Jennifer Hudson live the dream, but Lord, I hated Dreamgirls. Bad music, worse lyrics, histrionic script, and unlistenable, lung-busting, American Idol-esque, utterly un-Motown-like singing. And three of its songs were nominated. Well, Best Song is never a high point. (For the record, I hated Melissa Etheridge's self-important award-winner, too.)
- As the for the ads,I'm usually impervious to bank advertising that tells me how loving and caring the bank is, but Bank of America's "Window of Opportunity" spot had me 99 percent won over. In it, pedestrians young and old stop to gaze into a mirrored BofA logo and see visions of happy, successful futures. The actors and scenarios are unusually diverse, and the editing is quick (I was glad to have a chance to see the spot more than once) but not jarring. Dave Young at Branding Blog points out that BofA has integrated the spot into a multimedia campaign: you can watch it online, and today's daily newspapers carried two-page ads restating the theme (albeit with much less charm).
The Diet Coke spot, which took place on a movie set, was charming and thematically appropriate if morally dubious (the unseen protagonist is a pouty diva who won't go to work without her Diet Coke). Don't try to find it on the DC site, though. Big oversight. (Thanks again to Dave Young for pointing this out.)
Then there were the auto ads. Someone's been a little too successful in spreading the "story" gospel--three car companies (Honda, Cadillac, and Mercedes) featured Joe and Jo Customer talking about how much they loooove their cars. (In Mercedes' case, I believe it was Joseph Wentworth Customer III.) Too much.