Monday, February 25, 2008

80th Annual Academy Awards

I spent the majority of the evening last night watching the 80th annual Academy Awards presentation. Wow. What a bore. I have seen, with perhaps the exception of possibly 3 productions, every Academy Award presentation since 1975 and I really found last night's to have been one of the most fizzless that I can recall.

Jon Stewart's hosting performance, which I always enjoyed thoroughly on the previous times that he hosted, seemed very low-key with one-liners that barely rose above forced giggle level. The presenters were low-energy as were most of the acceptance speeches. The performances for the Oscar nominated songs were forgettable with the exception of two, those being the performance of "Raise It Up" (music and lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas for the film August Rush) and "Falling Slowly" ( music and lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova). Even though the performance of "Raise It Up" was somewhat compelling, it wasn't enough so in my opinion to "raise it up" over the now, in my opinion, increasingly tiresome cliches of the inner-city African American church choir belting out a song in that neo-gospel-American Idol style about the joys of using inner-strength to overcome hard times in the hood. Most of the dynamism from the performance came from the 11 year old Jamia Nash. Clearly, the girl is talented, but not unlike every other child belting out melismatic drivel with the hopes of becoming the next Mariah Carey.

The song "Falling Slowly" however, really rose above the fray. I was first turned onto this haunting ballad of hope months before I ever discovered that it was an Oscar nominee. I heard it streamed on some online indie-music station, fell in love with it, purchased it from I-Tunes for all of 99 cents, and have enjoyed it ever since. The two singer/songwriters, who also star in the film, were the highlight of the Awards. That and the unexpected win by Marion Cotillard for her spellbinding performance in the role of Edith Piaf in the film "La Vie En Rose". That was the other highlight of the Awards.

I first wrote about the amazing performance here last January
and it pleased me greatly that she won. Though, I must admit, part of me was hoping that Julie Christy, who was favored to win, would take away the Oscar. I think that I just liked the idea that the first (and so far the last) Oscar that she won was for her performance in the film "Darling" which was released the year I was born! I really like the idea that a performer can be so talented and still respected in the film industry that they can still be nominated for a best acting Oscar 43 years after their first win! This isn't easy in a industry that seems to value youth and looks over ability almost every time, particularly for a woman.

I hope that this means that the tides are beginning to turn a bit. The Oscar's hit 80 years old last night. Based upon last night's presentation, they showed every single year.

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