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Published: Monday, 3/8/2010

Oscars, Oscars, Oscars: Culture Shock goes to the Academy Awards

Welcome to the Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog will appear Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

... only 80 years behind the Academy Awards. Should be fun tonight. I predicted a big night for The Hurt Locker -- seven Oscars -- compared to two Oscars for Avatar. I'm thinking now I may've gone out a little far on the Hurt Locker limb. It's probably going to be 6 to 3 Hurt Locker.

We'll see.

Anyway, thanks for joining me. I'll be posting as often as I can. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts: kbaird@theblade.com. I'll check e-mails when I can.

So ... let's get to it:

The two-host format might've worked if Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin had better material. I thought the opening jokes were the worst the show's had in years. They were like two amateur comics at open-mic night, riffing on the audience out of desperation.

LET THE PEOPLE TALK! I'd much rather hear a little-known filmmaker enjoy his 5 minutes of fame in front of a billion people worldwide than to watch actors talk about how great their fellow actors are. Hollywood has always been self serving, but the Oscars only make it worse.

Art over money: Mostly. The Hurt Locker proved that substance rules over style (Avatar), but the Sandra Bullock win still bothers me. Her performance was great for her, but not to the level of her competition.

Overall, fairly predictable and one of the most unmemorable Oscars I can remember. It really dragged beyond its nearly four-hour telecast.

Anyway, thanks for checking in. It was a lot of fun. Hope to do it again next year.

Meanwhile, I'll be back late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning with the next blog and some thoughts on Crystal Bowersox's performance on American Idol.

It took six of its nine nominations. I predicted seven for The Hurt Locker and two for Avatar, which won 3. All in all, not bad.

I'm glad the Academy saw through the box-office and technical success of Avatar and realized it was an OK sci-fi battle film, and second-rate James Cameron. The Hurt Locker, which I still don't think it was the best film, was fresh and tense; you really had no idea what was going to happen. Avatar was almost paint-by-numbers screenwriting.

The last three nominations were slam-bam ... Kathryn Bigelow didn't have time to drop off her Best Director Oscar.

The Hurt Locker. Wow, the Oscars barley gave presenter Tom Hanks time to breath.

But, as I said, no surprise.

Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, becoming the first woman to win an Oscar for directing. She looks stunned, but she shouldn't. Lee Daniels (Precious) and Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) were her biggest competition.

Bigelow made a war film that was fresh and tense.

Oh, no commercials. The Oscars are in a race ... to get this over with.

Sandra Bullock. Well, she finally has her Oscar and will forever be taken as a serious actress ... until her next romantic comedy or Speed 3.

"Did I really earn this or did I just wear you down?"

It's like Julia Roberts all over again, without the tears.

Spoke too soon ...

soon as she mentioned her mom she wells up.

I feel bad for Gabourey Sidibe. She really deserved it and everyone knows it, including Bullock.

together like that you realize just how little she belongs in this category. It's a great performance by her, but it really does seem so much smaller than the other performances. But, she's going to win.

For the first time in a while, I'm genuinely happy for an actor to win the Oscar. I don't just mean for the performance, but just as a good guy who's been overlooked for a long, long time.

Jeff Bridges! It's about time. Now, Tron Legacy can have "Oscar Winner" on its merchandising.

Not many actors can say groovy and Sea Hunt in an acceptance speech and still be cool. Bridges is that kinda cool and completely deserving. He and T-Bone's music were the only remarkable things about Crazy Heart.

The LONG intro tribute by the five fellow actors into this was unnecessary and makes you question the Oscars even more for what they leave in, like this and the dance number, and take out, like cutting off Oscar winners.

Argentina's The Secret in Their Eyes is a surprise over Germany's The White Ribbon. Man, the orchestra is brutal tonight.

The Hurt Locker. Surprisingly, the tight drama beat out a nearly three-hour-long sci-fi fantasy. Then again the nearly as long JFK won an Oscar for editing, so anything's possible.

I think this bodes well for The Hurt Locker.

The Cove. Frankly, any of those documentaries could've won, but The Cove is one of those rare documentary movies that lives up to the buzz.

Way to cut them off after the sign, "Text Dolphin to 44144" was held up. Cue the music, cut to another camera, and usher this group of rabble-rousers off the stage. Shame the Oscars couldn't cut off some of the jokes.

Michael Giacchino Up. One of the best scores in years. I can't remember an animated film being so moving in years, and much of it is do to the brilliance of Giacchino's score. His music made the first 10 minutes of the movie, arguably some of the best 10 minutes in every animated film.

This just in ...

Avatar wins best effects. Was there any debate? I mean, you're one of the other nominees, do you even bother to write an acceptance speech?

We're looking at a four-hour telecast tonight and for Best Original Score we've got dancers onstage performing to the various musical pieces. Which, of course, only take away from the music that's nominated. Not to mention how much extra time this is packing onto the Oscars.

And the performances have NOTHING to do with the music. I'm all for interpretive dance, but not at the Academy Awards.

Avatar over The Hurt Locker. Not a surprise, although I picked The Hurt Locker. Avatar was a beautiful film -- not a great one, but a beautiful one.

And now, In Memoriam.

Please not Fire and Rain, James.

I think I prefer the orchestral accompaniment, sorry James.

The Hurt Locker for Sound Editing.

Second face-off goes to ...

The Hurt Locker for Sound Mixing ...

A sign of things to come?

Paranormal Activity video gag was the best joke the night ...

And now the Academy pays tribute to horror films with Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner to introduce the clips.

Sorry, Kristen Stewart, 37 years since a horror film won an Oscar -- The Exorcist? What about 1992's Silence of the Lambs. Last time I checked, it's a horror film.

No surprise about Avatar. Shame the third guy got cut off -- second time in the night.

Costume goes to Sandy Powell, who could've won the same award for her dress and accessories.

Mo'Nique for Precious. Was there any doubt? She was stunning as an abusive mother struggling with issues.

Liked her speech. She remembered those who paved the way for her. And didn't overkill the thanks to everyone she's met along the way, as many on the podium do.

From 85-year-old Lauren Bacall after winning an special Oscar: "The thought when I get home that I'm going to have a two-legged man in my room is so exciting I can hardly stand it."

Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious. Bit of an upset. Really expected Up in the Air to win this. Might there be an upset in the making for Gabourey Sidibe over Sandra Bullock.

Nice, humble, heartfelt speech. I think Geoffrey was as shocked as the rest of us.

And Best Supporting Actress is coming up ... this is going to be a LONG night.

Best short documentary gave us the first awkward moment of the night when a woman, I'm pretty sure Elinor Burkett, appeard onstage and cut off the winning speech by Roger Ross Williams for Music By Prudence.

and speaking of awkward ...

Ben Stiller dressed up again in a costume. It's kind of become his Oscar shtick, like Billy Crystal's song-clip opening.

And for Best Makeup ... Star Trek. I'm 99 percent that's the first win for any of the Star Trek movies.

Logorama and Nicolas Schmerkin over Nick Park's A Matter of Loaf and Death ... we have our first upset.

Wow ... Molly Wingwald -- looking like an Egyptian queen -- and Matthew Broderick onstage to pay tribute to the man who more or less gave them their start.

Surprised that the Academy devoted this much time to Hughes rather than the In Memoriam part. Not that he didn't deserve this kinda tribute. He made true teen comedies that no one has made before or since.

And now a partial Brat Pack reunion.

It's a shame that Hollywood feels the need to pay tribute to the writer-director now that he's gone. Why wasn't he allowed to keep making movies instead of being, more or less, pushed to the side.

It's weird to see everyone up there, some of the Brat Pack have not aged too well. But it's nice to see Hughes' family in the crowd. A great tribute to an underrated director and writer.

The Hurt Locker, Mark Boal. Great, really original story. Riveting movie that deserves to win many more Oscars tonight.

Robert Downey Jr, love the Peter Bogdanovich look.

He and Tina Fey should've hosted the Oscars, Funniest bit so far.

And now Best Original Screenplay ...

This is one of the most unmemorable Oscars I can remember. Very flat. It's been 40 minutes and it feels much longer than that. This may be the first Academy Awards that feels longer than it is.

T-Bone: "The Weary Kind." Despite the bad lip-synching by Colin Farrell. A great song.

Up ... one of the best animated films in years. This also cinches the film's Best Picture chances. It won't win 2 Oscars, though it was every bit as good as any film ever nominated.

Love to see Ed Asner there.

And now, back to the gags ... (groan)

Watching the best picture clip of the The Blind Side you wouldn't know anybody else was in it other than Sandra Bullock. Looked like a clips package for Best Actress.

Was thinking back to the unfortunate jokes by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. It reminded me of a bad SNL opening.

Christoph Waltz ...

No surprise. He was amazing. He's also won every award so far this year. Still seems to find something new to say each time he's on the stage, while still doling out the thanks to everyone. Hope we see him in more films and that this Oscar doesn't prove to be his swansong. Classy speech. Sorry, Woody, just not your year.

I think George Clooney's reaction summed it up for everyone.

Finally, one to first presenter for supporting actor ...

Martin: "Meryl Streep holds the record for most nominations? Or, as I like to think of it, most losses."

I don't mind the two-host format, but give 'em something better to work with.

At least they're having fun, though I don't think anyone watching is.

Martin was much better on his own.

Just bouncing around the room and mocking the crowd. There's no edge to any of it. It's like they're just crackingwise to friends.

The spraying the scared spirits gag was the worst yet. Where's Jon Stewart when you need 'im?

Barbara Walters on her final Oscar interview after 29 years: "... guess I could've stopped at 30, but it seemed like a cliche."

Buzz Aldrin on Dancing With the Stars? Let's hope for his psyche he doesn't come in second place again.

Is it just me, or does Kathy Ireland still look like she's modeling? Or, at the very least, auditioning for a Barker's Beauty?

Kathy: "Jake [Gyllenhaal], please tell us about your new movie?"

Let the softball questions begin.

Really, Jake, is Prince of Persia going to be the video game movie we've always wanted? I'm not sure you can top Super Mario Brothers.

Meanwhile, Kathy is representing super models well as another lame quasi-celeb interviewer.

Some other thoughts ...

Sandra Bullock, way too makeup.

George Clooney, drop the shaggy-hair look.

Mo'Nique: After the Babs interview I'm really curious if she bothered to shave for the Oscars. Seriously. http://toedit.sx.atl.publicus.com/apps/pbcsedit.dll/red#

She's 64 and could pass for someone in her early 50s. Mirren's simply stunning. Funny how she's only been considered acting royalty in the last 15 years or so. I guess most everyone has forgotten about Caligola. Just as well. I still think of her in A Cook, A Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover.

Sarah Jessica Parker I'm talking to you.

Kathy Ireland asking Miley Cyrus about acting in a drama .... does it get any better and more awkward on the red carpet?

Love the Dude. The more interviews I see with Jeff Bridges, the more I wonder how much of the dude required acting.

Gabourey Sidibe: Pullin' for her, but she doesn't have a chance against Sandra Bullock.

And then there's Meryl Streep. Nominated 16 times ... probably deserved to win 10 or 11 of those times.

And Kathy throws out a wild and crazy reference to Steve Martin.

And now, here we go ...

Opened with all the actors up for leading role Oscars. Different way to kick it off, but I like the star power.

Wonder how the dual host will work?

And now Neil Patrick Harris ...

why does the prisoner drop the soap? Because no one wants to do it alone? Wow, way to stay classy, Academy.

Agree or disagree with a posting? Lemme know. Have a topic or suggestion? Lemme know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com

or call 419-724-6734.

LINK: For all of Kirk Baird's Culture Shock riffs



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