The great thing about skipping the Oscar broadcast this year was all the reading I got done during the program’s 3 hour and 40 minute running time. It sounds like I didn’t miss much. Everyone seems to agree that Neil Patrick Harris was bland and his jokes fell flat; the acceptance speeches were brutally cut too short by the music cues; the production numbers dominated the first 90 minutes, in which only two awards (Best Supporting Actor and Actress) were announced; and the major winners were ho-hum predictable. Even the signature montage, "In Memoriam," came in for criticism.
Mickey Rooney, James Garner, Robin Williams, Ruby Dee and Mike Nichols were among the greats that passed away in 2014, but I guess Oscar was too tight to pony up for a few film clips, or even a few measly production stills. Instead, the segment featured animated watercolor portraits materializing next to the names of the deceased, a cheap artistic gimmick more suitable to a eulogy for Thomas Kinkade.
Sets from Alien to honor the work of H.R. Giger? A luminous black-and-white still from Manhattan to represent the genius of cinematographer Gordon Willis? How about a scene from Lone Star featuring Elizabeth Peña, who tragically died from alcoholism? Nah, too expensive.
For something better done, check out Slate.com for its parody of the "In Memoriam" segment, a salute to movie characters who died in their 2014 films. Kim Jong-Un, the basketballing dictator from The Interview; Wanda, the suicidal judge from the Oscar-winning Ida; dozens of Russian mobsters from the Keanu Reeves actioner, John Wick; William Cage, Tom Cruise’s character in Edge of Tomorrow, who died over and over and over again; and, in the name of poetic justice, Desi Collings, the character Neil Patrick Harris played in Gone Girl.
Maybe Oscar will subcontract with Slate next year to produce this segment. They at least had actual film clips in their tribute.