Sunday night’s Academy Awards telecast had its moments — a celebration of diversity, small films being recognized, the charming setting of a railway station.
It was still painful to watch, at times a cure for insomnia. Even an appearance by Harrison Ford couldn’t liven things up.
Sacha Baron Cohen should have hosted. He’s funny and he can sing.
Absent were lavish production numbers, shots of A-listers in the audience and clips from the films nominated for best picture.
Instead, they allowed the winners to speak longer than 45 seconds which, depending on the recipient, was both good and bad.
Danish director Thomas Vinterberg shared the pain of losing his daughter just weeks before he began filming “Another Round,” chosen as 2020’s best international film.
Tyler Perry, accepting a humanitarian award, offered a message of love and tolerance.
Youn Yuh-jung, the best supporting actress who hails from Korea, appeared overwhelmed, showing her admiration for presenter Brad Pitt, who held back tears from the side of the stage.
There were very few clips offered, something that would have been easy enough to do. Since we’ve never even heard of many of this year’s nominees, it would have been greatly appreciated — not only by the viewers, but by the filmmakers.
They raced through the “In Memoriam” section, often the show’s most touching segment.
They offered more background on the nominees for the technical awards, but we didn’t need to know everyone’s favourite movie as a child.
Taped sound bites from movie songs were offered, plus a trivia game of best original songs (winner, nominee or ignored). It was ironic. With the exceptions of “Over the Rainbow” and “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” Oscar voters usually botch this category.
It all built to a strange conclusion where they broke tradition and presented best picture as the third-from-last trophy.
I was ready to turn the TV off.
“Nomadland” won. Expected.
Next, a minor surprise with Frances McDormand winning best actress. She was undeniably great in “Nomadland,” but the odds were stacked against her because she’s already won twice.
The late Chadwick Boseman, who had won most of the major awards building up to the Oscars, was considered a lock for best actor. It would have made for great television, his family in attendance to accept his one and only Oscar in his memory.
“... Anthony Hopkins.”
Sir Tony, who hasn’t attended the ceremony the last three times he’s been nominated, wasn’t available for a live address. Having dethroned Christopher Plummer as the oldest person to win an acting Oscar, Hopkins responded hours later with a quick speech.
His work in “The Father” was outstanding but, like McDormand, he had won before.
I need to chill more. It’s a union presenting awards to its members, not brain surgery or a moon walk.
Hooray for Hollywood!
James Miller is managing editor of The Penticton Herald. He's watched every Oscars telecast since 1978.