Days like this I wonder why I even bother to watch the Oscars. I managed to stay up as long as Jerry Lewis' award, and then hit the sack and by this morning it's all just a big so-what. I love movies, and I love celebrating them, but nothing they can do will make that event what it promises to be.
For one thing, there is seldom any excitement. It's certainly not a surprise who will win, and when they've won there is some question what all the fuss was about. The event is rife with small awards and people making overlong, uninteresting speeches. A lot of self-congratulation for not very much. The same guys getting up time and again and trying to think of different things to say and do every time.
I admire Hugh Jackman. That guy is a huge talent, a show of his own. But this time they gave him center stage and seemed to tell him not to do much with it. If given free rein the whole event would have become The Hugh Jackman Show, and a much more exciting one at that. His little turn with Anne Hathaway at the beginning was charming (and what a surprise that she has a voice and a flair for the musical-comedy realm), and the "Puttin' on My Top Hat" number with Beyoncé almost worked, except for the fact that it made no sense whatever. The moves kept veering from Fred Astaire musical to recent Broadway and cinema--the lyrics complicated matters with occasional references to a current or former movie. Calling Beyoncé "Maria" was confusing and uncalled for. Was this the 2008 Oscars or a tribute to every musical movie ever made? Why?
The interminable awards to unknowns for technical achievements are of no interest to the television audience. It's their "big night," maybe, but I'm just a schlub sitting on the couch hoping to see something that makes me laugh or warms my heart. No chance the hours of waiting for a gem amid this noise and clatter will provide what I was hoping for.
The award to Jerry Lewis didn't show us any of his best work, clips of which would have livened things up and showed some of the people under 40 in that crowd exactly what it is that makes us regard him as an American original, a world-class clown, the antecedent of Robin Williams and Jim Carrey. Lewis himself seemed sedated and weary. So was I, man. I went to bed. Maybe next year?