So another annual dose of TV tedium has come and gone. What I find most interesting about the Oscars, and I find the same with “theme articles” that talk about today’s most successful movies, is that the movie industry’s Prime Directive is to convince us as often as possible that (old saw) “movies are better than ever!” In fact, we’ve gotten back to the Fifties so much that the biggest, newest invention is 3D, which came in when television hit the scene for real, and the studios were panicked no one would ever go to the movies again.
Thus, last weekend we got another Oscarcast that tried its utmost to convince us that the handful of decent Hollywood productions last year were as good as the masterpieces of old, the classics made overseas, and those hundreds of films that never received Oscars but are now acknowledged as the finest movies ever made. To keep folks tuned in, the show was streamlined — but still ran over three and a half hours, because they introduced five new Best Picture nominees (talk about hubris — or is that chutzpah?).
Thus, we didn’t hear the nominated songs, and the obituary tribute was pretty much insulting to all involved — not only to those who weren’t included (I like how a brouhaha is made over Farrah Fawcett and Bea Arthur, as if they were major motion-picture talents — gimme some Maurice Jarre and Arnold Stang, fellas!). The fact that over five minutes of the show was devoted to a tribute to John Hughes (who, as I noted here, only made like three good movies) and no more than ten seconds — more like five in most cases — was given to the rest of the filmmakers, performers, and writers who died, was an insult in general. More than likely, the film clips from Hughes' pictures were considered good for the demographic watching the Oscars, and those that might be channel-surfing around on a Sunday night.
In any case, the show’s most shameful event was not snubbing Farrah (although, if you’re gonna mention her movie career, do you feature a scene from Myra Breckenridge?), but that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided that we no longer need to see the honorary Lifetime Achievement awards on the show proper. In this case, we were told about a ceremony at which studio executive John Calley, incredibly influential cinematographer Gordon Willis, Lauren Bacall, and an absolute god of low-budget moviemaking, Roger Corman, received Lifetime Achievement awards.
I could go on and on about how pathetic it is that the producers of the program try to make a connection between the “great” films of today and the classics of yesteryear... and then don’t honor those who receive Lifetime Achievement awards on air. But it’s pointless to go on at length, since the show is always badly timed, badly produced (mainly because they focus their attention on ridiculous stagebound stuff, which is not the forte of moviemakers), and remarkably unfunny (does anyone really think Bruce Vilanch is a scream, outside of the Oscar producers?).
I guess I wasn’t paying attention when the program was on (can you imagine that?), but the presentation to the four Lifetime honorees wasn’t made a day before the Oscars, a week, or even a month. It was made five fucking months before the program! Here is an L.A. Times article from a few days before it happened, which was, for the record, November 14, 2009.
It turns out that the missing presentations and acceptances are up on the official Oscars site, but they are not embeddable here. Instead, I link you to Jeff Bridges presenting to Gordon Willis, Anjelica Huston presenting to Lauren Bacall, and Jonathan Demme presenting to Roger Corman. The Oscar producers should be ashamed of themselves for “hiding” these honors.