The Oscars seemed an exercise of going through the motions last night.
But it was this year's host Hugh Jackman who is getting the most mixed responses. His opening musical number fell flat for some, and Ben Stiller's Joaquin Phoenix bit felt out of place.What was predictable was the big win for Kate Winslet, and "Slumdog Millionaire."
What was a bit of a surprise was the win for Sean Penn for "Milk", as the tide of Hollywood favor seemed to be washing over Mickey Rourke, who gave the most emotional (and profane) acceptance speech ever when he took the previous night's IFC Spirit Award for Best Actor in "The Wrestler."
The tone of the awards was all over the place, and the video montage that blended past and present nominated films was annoying; you want to see as much of an extended clip of each nominated film, not snips of similarly themed films interspersed when the Best Film noms were being presented. Also a trial was the far away screen shots of the Memoriam reel, where the camera kept focused of Queen Latifah singing on stage. I would have preferred to see the people who passed up close and in great scenes from their careers, not just the deeply missed Paul Newman.
But the show seemed to have no core to it, and even though Hugh Jackman is a great performer, his oeuvre is certainly not hosting. Will Smith, however, demonstrated some real stage presence with the swath of technical awards he doled out.
Perhaps the producers of the Oscars can channel some of that Danny Boyle "Tigger" spontaneity and let a real host run with the bulls and surprise us all next year.