Last night, I watched the 84th Academy Awards (while Tweeting 184 times and drinking a lot of caffeine). True, Billy Crystal pretty much gave the performance that we, as a society, expected; George Clooney is a charming man, as always; and most of the winners — save for a couple of surprises — were foregone conclusions. But! That doesn’t mean there weren’t lessons to be learned. So, with that, here are the five things I learned from the 84th Academy Awards.
1.) People think Meryl Streep wins an Oscar every year.
I can’t believe the amount of articles/Tweets/Facebook status updates/smoke signals/carrier pigeon deliveries I’ve read that allude to Streep’s victory as, “Ho-hum, what else in new?” Well, in the last 29 years (!) since she last won an Oscar, a lot is new, actually. First of all, Ronald Reagan is no longer in his first term as President of the United States. Michael Jordan is no longer a sophomore at North Carolina. Here’s quite a few more things that “are new.”
2.) Every actor should attend the Academy Awards as the next character he or she happens to be promoting.
Sacha Baron Cohen, as his character in The Dictator, dumped an urn of pancake mix onto Ryan Seacrest. Admittedly, my first reaction was to label Cohen an unabashed publicity whore. But, then again, at least he’s owning the fact that he’s a publicity whore. Look, around the same time that incident occurred, Jonah Hill was giving a red carpet interview in which he spent about half the time talking about his new film, 21 Jump Street — as if that topic just happened to come up in conversation. Would it have been any worse if Hill had shown up on the red carpet as his character from the film? I feel Cohen could have done something a bit more clever than dumping pancake mix on another human being, but showing up in character is no different than what every other actor does when they promote their next project on the red carpet or during the ceremony.
3.) Apparently appearing in 104 movies isn’t quite enough to be included in the Oscars death montage.
Somewhere along the line, was a producer asked, “Hey, we need to cut five seconds from this show, what do we do?” Which was responded to with the words, “Cut Harry Morgan. I don’t give a damn that he was in High Noon and 103 other movies. He’s out.” And the thing is: People love Harry Morgan! Sure, he was best known for playing a television character — something, perhaps, DeForest Kelly was snubbed for, too, in 2000 — but that’s even more reason that the average viewer last night would have enjoyed seeing Morgan’s smiling face one last time. Hey, we all love Whitney Houston, but she was in approximately 100 less movies than Harry Morgan. Seriously: dick move, Academy.
4.) Cirque du Soleil is boring to watch on television.
I’ve never attended a live Cirque du Soleil performance. People seem to love it, so I’m sure it’s riveting entertainment. But for the entire length of that performance, I couldn’t help but think, Right now we could be watching Jason Segel and a Muppet performing “Man or Muppet.” Knowing Segel, he would have this immensely entertaining. (And, you never know, maybe Jesse Eisenberg would have shown up to sing “Real in Rio.”) But, no, we get Cirque du Soleil for no reason whatsoever other than Brian Grazer apparently likes Cirque du Soleil.
5.) I have become inexplicably annoyed at Woody Allen for not being there to accept his Oscar.
I say “inexplicably” because, yeah, I know, Woody Allen does not attend award shows. He did attend the Academy Awards back in 2002 to give a speech in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. And, yes, there was something poignant about the fact that he was there on that night. I’ll admit: it’s 100 percent selfish, but I wanted him there last night, too. On a night that was, for the most part, fairly dull, I would have loved to hear what Allen had to say as he acknowledged his first Oscar win in 25 years. I get that he doesn’t like the idea of awards — stemming from a bit of a kerfuffle over the lack of nominations for Sleeper — but not showing is almost smug. It’s time for him to let this go.
Mike Ryan is the senior writer for Moviefone. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, GQ.com, New York Magazine and Movieline. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter