January 6, 2006

Setting the mood for the Oscars.

From the L.A. Times:
Oscar's desperate search for relevancy continues. With the choice of Comedy Central's Jon Stewart as the next Oscar host, the film academy has apparently opted for the host most like the films that presumably will be nominated for the award itself — small, literate, political-ish, gems like "Brokeback Mountain," "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "Capote."...

As news of Stewart's coronation spread through Hollywood, people were cheered for just the potential break in the increasingly staid, self-important, Oscar glopfest.

"I'm excited about it," says "Chronicles of Narnia" producer Mark Johnson, an academy member and former member of the organization's board of governors. "There's such a need for relevancy in the world at large, and not just the movie business. You want to make the Oscars as relevant and sexy as you can be, within the guidelines. I have [nothing against] bad taste and vulgarism in a lot of what I listen to and see, but in the Oscars there's no place for it."

Others hope that the irreverent Stewart will cut loose a little. "The Oscars have grown into this appalling circus," says film historian and critic David Thomson. "We're trapped with it, and very often the films are not worthy. I don't think the host is terribly important, but to the degree that we're fed up with the show, a new host is fresh meat.

"A new host can say, 'I'll only do it if I can do it my own way.' That's the real bargain — whether the real host is given liberty or the academy sits on him. If they give Jon Stewart his freedom, it would be a merciful touch. He's always against pomp. Maybe he can be fun."
But those movies -- those "small, literate, political-ish, gems like 'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Good Night, and Good Luck' and 'Capote'" -- do so want to be taken seriously, and the Oscars are supposed to be the occasion to make us take the serious movies seriously. It's a difficult trick to be a good, funny host without stepping over the edge and signaling that the Oscar movies are not the pompous things they pretend to be. Maybe Stewart can do what they need.

21 comments:

Sloanasaurus said...

I was dissappointed to hear that Stewart is heading the Oscars.

I probably won't watch it - more because I am unimpressed with the movies this year than Stewart.

However, I think Stewart is a dope and his show is for the dumb dumb crowd and those who don't read.

My opinion of course.

PatCA said...

America, take your medicine! Go see these "serious" films!

My favorite host was Ellen. Her line after 9/11 that what would upset the terrorists more than "a gay woman telling jokes to a roomful of Jews" made it the funniest, and truest and almost heroic, of all Oscars.

AJD said...

Well, Ann, you'd be the expert on wanting to be taken seriously. Emphasis on wanting.

And hey! If/when you learn to separate the banal from the merely mundane, that day might just come.

Might.

reader_iam said...

I used to enjoy Stewart, but he's gotten too embittered and snide for my tastes--which is fine; a lot of other people do like him.

This choice signals to me, though, that we're likely to have an even-more-political-than-usual sort of show this year, and that's a real disappointment. I'm still enamoured of all the glitz etc. attached to the Oscars and I even like it when the shows run way long.

But if this year's goes the way I fear it might, given this choice, I may duck out fairly quickly. Does every darn thing have to become so political and partisan.

HEY! ROTFLOL! Guess what my word verification is!

dmwts

The best ever! And perfect timing!

Sigh.

reader_iam said...

Anti-sheck: Why do you bother to come here? I don't get it. You really remind me of the self-satisfied, jerky bully-types that we had to put up with in junior high, but blessedly got to (mostly) leave behind once reaching adulthood.

I wish the word verification for this post was as appropriate as for the last one ...

wildaboutharrie said...

PatCa, I'm embarrassed to know this, but I think that was the Emmys. I didn't see the show, it's worse than that...I think read about that line in People!

Stewart shouldn't have taken this job. It should have gone to...hmmm...how about Jack Black? Queen Latifah? Ben Stiller?

I'm too out of touch, I think, I've not seen a movie in a few years except for Matrix 3 (awful, except for the beautiful Keanu's beautiful face...).

SWBarns said...

I once thought that John Stewart was funny. Then he decided that he was "small, literate, political-ish" and stopped making fun of his new peers. It's been downhill for him ever since.

Chris Gabel said...

If Stewart will skewer Hollywood as brutally as he did "Crossfire" it could be wonderful. Unfortunately, I don't think he's interested in biting the hand that feeds him. These are the people he wants to like him.

SteveR said...

Anti-Sheck: I'm inclined not to respond because a reaction is obviously what you want but why come here just to be so immaturely negative? Is your life really that shallow?

flounder said...

Maybe anti-sheck should join quxxo's Carthusian anti-Althouse monastery. He certainly has the Pavlovian response down pat.

DaveG said...

Jon Stewart? Ehh. Might as well go whole hog and make it Bill Maher.

Either way, I expect a lot of cheap shots at Bush, and very little in the way of the insightful jabs Stewart used to throw at everybody. It'll play well in the Hollywood echo chamber, though, and as we all know, it really is all about them.

tock said...

It's not about the politics, people, it's about the jokes.

The Oscars are not about taking serious movies seriously, they're about selling tickets. And feeling the love. And selling ads during the broadcast. And they used to be about keeping Billy Crystal's career alive.

When Chris Rock was anointed last year, my first reaction was, "Well, so much for Chris Rock." Sure enough, he was bland and eager and careful not to insult anyone except Jude Law, or offend anyone except Sean Penn... and now he has his very own sitcom. Good Chris Rock! Good boy!

It'll be interesting to see how many viewers Jon Stewart manages to hang onto, and whether he, too, gets a sitcom... oh, wait, he already has one.

Jake said...

To continue what tock said:

The critics will hate the Oscar show as always and a billion movie fans will love the show. And movie revenues will continue to decline as Hollywood continues to turn out movies and fewer and fewer want to see.

Donna B. said...

I like Jon Stewart, though I hated his book. He's not funny in print because so much of his humor has to do with body language and facial expression. Johnny Carson was like that too.

Also, like Johnny Carson, the best of his humor is self-deprecating.

Then again, I'm basing my opinion on very few viewings of his show and hearing his 2004 Commencement speech at W&M.

It's enough that I'll probably make it a point to watch the Oscars this year, which will be the first time in years.

Harkonnendog said...

Sigh... I won't watch this year because I don't want to hear Stewart's take on the Iraq war, and I'm 100% sure he'll give it... Fargh. Well, given the movies nominated I'm not missing much anyway.

Pogo said...

Stewart's hosting these Oscars? Ugh.

I don't think I can watch clips from Good Night, Brokeback Geisha Kong without the help of a bucket of chianti.

Jon will likely give a few laughs at the expense of the unwashed redsate rubes at home, and then it'll be over. But jiminy, Edward R. Murrow as a hero in the fifties? Gay cowboys faking heterosexuality and making promises to women and children they won't keep .. a love story? Wha??

I know it's probably good for me to see tender love scenes about sweaty sheepherders, but thank god in heaven I we don't have to watch this flotsam, like those pitiful Iraqis had to read Saddam's novels. Oy vey.

Eli Blake said...

The problem is, as long as they nominate little watched films that most people haven't seen, they will continue to get low ratings. The year Titanic swept everything (except best supporting actress, which was a crying shame, IMO) they got very good ratings-- because people had seen the movie.

You know, if you don't have a horse in the race, then you don't care how it turns out.

me said...

Jon Stewart doesn't do it for me. He always has that I'm smarter than you tone, and he isn't. I though Chris Rock did a fair job, and maybe the second time around he would have been a bit less uncomfortable.

I haven't seen Match Point, but that looks ok. Capote was good. You me and everyone else was great. Other than foreign movies, I can't remember much else this year. Broken Flowers wasn't very good.

Pat Patterson said...

The suspicion I have is that when the best picture award is given, greeted with thunderous applause by the Academy audience, the rest of us will go, "Yep, didn't see that one either".

tock said...

Funny, the year Titanic won (almost) every award in sight was the year I decided to go backpacking in the desert for two days rather than face another Oscar party... and the sight of that abysmally bloated, self-important movie winning every award in sight.

Coincidentally, that was the year I realized how little cultural resonance the Oscars held: on my way back to LA from Joshua Tree the day after the awards, I didn't hear a single comment about the Oscars.

Craig Ranapia said...

Sorry, but this is another item for the WGAF file. I only watched the Oscars last year because I went to high school with one of the nominees for best live action short and wanted to see which dress she eventually decided to buy. Otherwise, once you've seen what Nicole Kidman is (barely) wearing, it has all the interest of the race for Prom Queen and King at Carrie White Memorial High.