Smile Politely

Surviving The Oscars

I have mentioned before that TV makes me nervous. 

Obviously, I find most of my TV-watching to be extremely enjoyable, but live TV, and my lack of control over what I will see and hear on live TV, makes me overwrought and anxious. Sporting events, CNN, Al Roker, awards shows — they all cause some serious visceral reactions in my soul. I know in my heart that people are professionals and trained and polished and most likely things will go off without a hitch, but I also know in my heart that something very bad could happen at any moment (Joe Theisman’s leg, Adrian Brody kissing Halle Berry, etc.), and I might be watching and have no control over making it better. So I react, umm, physically, meaning my nervousness manifests itself in behaviors: I have to hit Last Channel every two seconds, or jump around, or hit mute, or walk into the bedroom and back out into the living room and back into the bedroom again, or stand off to the immediate left or right of the TV, so it’s only in my peripheral vision, whilst constantly jabbering nonsense at whoever else is in the room.  Some people I know have charitably referred to this behavior as amusing on rare occasions.

I think we all know it’s actually stone-cold insane and bizarre and shows that I have some major trust issues, but it’s one of those you-can’t-help-who-you-are kind of things. I am a worried TV watcher. And no TV event makes me more worried than The Oscars.

I love movies as much as I love TV. I see all the movies I should see in any given year (good ones and, like, Transformers). I care about who wins, and I am especially heartened when someone who should win does win. I get exceptionally nervous that someone (maybe even someone famous) will say something wrong, fall down, or act weird on live TV, which will only make me feel uncomfortable.

This year’s Oscars ceremony actually only produced a few really cringe-worthy moments. I almost fainted over the way they gave out the acting awards. They had five past Oscar winners in the category stand in a semi-circle on stage, each one delivering a your-performance-was-so-inspiring-for-these-reasons speech to the current nominees (Whoopi Goldberg cracking on Sister Act in honor of Amy Adams in Doubt, Sir Ben Kingsley on Mickey Rourke, etc.) without showing clips of the performances. I’m used to those clips and the standard single presenter banter! And Alan Arkin accidentally called Phillip Seymour Hoffman “Seymour Phillip Hoffman” in his tribute.  I’m way too sensitive.

Speaking of, Paul Newman died this year. You don’t note the importance of Paul Newman’s contribution to the world of film by having Queen Latifah sing “I’ll Be Seeing You” over a video montage. They should’ve stopped the Oscars and just shown Hud in its entirety. 

But I did like Hugh Jackman. In general, he was quick-witted and the show was well-paced for him, but his musical number with Beyonce was atrocious. This, after all the good will he earned with a pretty spectacular musical opening. I mean, I’m prone to liking musical numbers, and prone to calling them spectacular (I have made multiple groups of people watch the entirety of Jesus Christ Superstar with me); but it seems to me that the opening musical number was actually spectacular. He ended it by standing on a low rent The Wrestler set piece belting out “I’m Wolverine” opera-style. It was pretty cool. But the hot mess that went on with Beyonce, Zac Efron, and the girl from Big Love caused me to leave the room. They attempted to sing a little bit of every song from every popular musical ever. Badness.

Still, people were, by and large, professional, trained, and polished. And things went off without a hitch. The set was intimate and fancy-looking, the show was fast (musical numbers not withstanding), and I was most impressed by some of the acceptance speeches. I shouldn’t be, because these people, especially the actors, make a lot of money to do what they do, and in theory, they should be able to deliver a good heartfelt speech in public. Penelope Cruz and Sean Penn were especially radiant and funny and deserving of their accolades. I was glad Penn won, and you should watch his speech if you didn’t catch it. It was beautiful, with a nice nod to our elegant president and Mickey Rourke at the end. And on the non-actor side of things, the writer of Milk, Dustin Lance Black, made me flat out bawl with his acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay. “Beautiful, wonderful creatures of value,” damn right! That kid did a good job. Plus, the lead-in from Tina Fey and Steve Martin was priceless! 

And Heath Ledger won. Enough said.

I survived Oscar night mostly unscathed. It should be noted that my nervousness has, in the past, prevented me from properly enjoying Oscar and Superbowl parties. It’s my burden, but I assure you it makes me nothing if not qualified to report to you on all matters TV. And in case you were too spellbound by the Oscars and haven’t caught HBO’s newest Sunday night show yet, I highly recommend Eastbound and Down, which airs right after Flight of the Conchords. Sunday night goodness!

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