Of course this all culminates in the the forever bloated spectacle known as the Academy Awards, formerly the only game in town. Its biggest rival these days, the Golden Globes, used to be a syndicated TV show that often didn't get a tape delayed spot in prime time on an obscure UHF channel (look it up, kids). It was all about the Oscars, baby, the Super Bowl of glad hand extravaganzas. Though its cache has dimmed in the light of a deluge of copycat shows, that gold naked man with a sword remains king and it's good to be the king, isn't it?
This year's show saw the return of Ellen Degeneres as host, a safe choice after last year's Seth "We Saw Your Boobs" McFarlane. It's an interesting comment of how far we've come when an out lesbian can be considered a safe choice. Tolerance, thy name is Hollywood. Think they're progressive? Tune into to the Tony Awards sometime. Those'll make your average backwards leaning Neanderthal's head explode SCANNERS-style.
But it was a softball game at best and slow-pitch at that. The whole enterprise came off as tame, polite and generally inoffensive. In a word, safe, just like its host. This is what political correctness looks like in all its cautious form.* It's been buffed to a dull sheen, putting a grin on the proceedings instead of the pure unadulterated joy of Hooray for fucking Hollywood!
Ellen was quite competent in her role, a much better fit than her first time at bat. At times, she even channeled her finest hour as host of the post 9/11 Emmys, though that was a time when the audience needed to be treated with kid gloves. Thirteen years later, not so much. Some of the time, her antics seemed ill-conceived or randomly coy, something that works on daytime TV, but not in this arena. She scored some, flubbed others, but in all won the Kodak Theater crowd over and that's a tough room. At the end of the day, eh, telecast (same length) Ellen more than earned another stint. Who do you think they're going to ask back, James Franco and Alec Baldwin?
While I hate the cold opening as much as I did last year, at least there was a lack of unnecessary filler and the musical numbers came off surprisingly well. Pharrell Williams, U2 and Idina Menzel all delivered the goods, even with the orchestra inexplicably situated in another building yet again. Karen O's song from HER would have had better luck at a coffeehouse from INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS. The odd choice of Pink singing OVER THE RAINBOW was redeemed by her performance, though Liza with a Z didn't seem to agree.And Bette Midler singing my least favorite Bette Midler song can still knock it into the rafters, though she loses a point for flapping her bubby wing to the chorus. Yikes. But really, how can I damn those Tweeters and Facebook posters who scrutinized every flaw, faux pas and fashion disaster of all the presenters when I'm doing the same thing myself? Easily, I guess. I'm just as big of a snarky bitch as anyone. Then again, you'll never see Kim Novak in public again. As much as we decry bullying, here we sit, firing rounds at any target we choose from a safe distance like the Beltway sniper. Shame on us. Yes, me too.
So the Academy Awards are over. No decent film will be released until next September. Come March of next year, I'll spend another 3 1/2 hours sitting through another exercise in bland ambition, prizes galore and parting gifts for one and all. And then I'll roll my eyes and wonder, "Isn't it time for THE WALKING DEAD?"
*Apparently the exception being Ellen's female impersonation jab at Liza, her only "edgy" joke is causing apoplexy to the LGBTLSMFT community. The death of comedy is imminent.