“…so you want to be in love like the movies
But in the movies they’re not in love at all
And with a twinkle in their eyes
They’re just saying their lines
So we can’t be in love like the movies…”

The Avett Brothers, “Love Like The Movies”


It’s ten minutes to three in the morning and I just got through answering the thirty-something e-mails I got after the Oscars went off the air last night. Ahhh, the curse of being a movie fanatic… folks need answers to their movie questions, they come to the one person they know will know. And they know that if I don’t know the answer, it will drive me crazy until I figure out what the answer actually IS. I mean, you are talking to someone who has spent many a sleepless night trying to figure out where I had heard a particular line from a movie.

One memorable occasion, for whatever reason, a scene popped into my head, a woman entering a room and yelling “WHAT the HELL is happening?” It was a throwaway scene, and it meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Discovering the source was not going to unlock the Secret of the Pyramids, or solve the national debt, or anything monumental like that. But it bugged the crap out of me. I could see the scene in my head, I could hear the woman’s voice, but I could not, for the life of me, figure out WHERE I had seen it. And for a year (yes, gentle readers, a YEAR…), it gnawed at me like a beaver on a spruce tree. But, by cracky, I figured it out. Not through Google, not through any website or book of movie quotations, but by sheer repetition, repeating that little film clip over and over in my head when I had some down time, the light bulb FINALLY pinged on and I placed the evil film clip. For the record, it is from one of the true funniest movies of all time, My Favorite Year, starring Peter O’Toole and Mark Linn Baker, and the line, well, I will allow you to find it for yourself in the movie….

But I digress…

For many years, I worked on a website that allowed me to review movies, offer my opinions on the industry, and I had a ball doing it. And one of my favorite columns I used to write was my annual “reaction” essay to the Oscar telecast. My readers then would flock to the site the day after the show to see what I liked and what I hated about the show, my reactions to the winners, and so on. Well, the site still exists (www.stairwell.com/doc , should you feel like perusing), but we have not done new content in many moons. It became a victim of time management, lack of sponsorship, and, truthfully, frustration because we were apparently ahead of our time as far as being amateur movie critics. Every now and then, though, someone will pop onto it and I will get a vicious email because of my comments about Dirty Dancing (which has to be one of the stupidest movies of all time), or blast me because I thought then, and still do, that The English Patient was as boring as a mayonnaise and white bread sandwich with a glass of water as a chaser. And I still get the emails about the Oscars telecast.

So, to save me having to spend another late night hitting “reply” over and over again on my email, I offer to you now, gentle readers, my official reaction to the Oscars of 2011, from the point of view of a true fan of motion pictures…

First and foremost, let me get this off my chest. An open note to whomever it was who had the grand idea to put James Franco and Anne Hathaway up for hosting – walk to the nearest gas station and buy a gallon of gas. Then walk to the nearest cliff. Pour said gasoline over your head. Pop your Zippo lighter and touch the flame to your chest. When you feel the skin melting off your face, jump in a glorious swan dive…

Was James Franco hitting the Pineapple Express through the whole show? And who kept feeding Anne Mountain Dew Amp??? “Appeal to a younger demographic”? You chose THESE two??? They may, and I am being very gracious by saying “may,” have reached “mildly watchable” twice. When a 91-year old stroke victim can steal the show from you, you are officially “epic fail.”

As to the show itself, I still stand in awe as to how, year end and year out, they manage to make the show so insufferably boring for the middle ninety minutes. The first 45 minutes or so are usually okay, and the last 45 are interesting because that’s when they do the awards the causal movie fan wants to see. But that whole middle section moves like an opossum that didn’t quite make it across the road in time.

Yet, in order to SAVE time this year, they cut the montages. The montages are the stuff we might actually HAVE FUN watching, people!!! We don’t need the interpretive dance crap, we don’t need the labored little sketch humor you throw at the hosts to do while they change the set, and we CERTAINLY do not need song and dance numbers (unless it’s Billy Crystal as the host, which I will get to in a second…).

And let’s go back a second to that theory of appealing to a “younger demographic.” The “In Memorium” montage, the one montage you keep in the show, you frame it with Celine Dion? CELINE DION??? The most overrated singer on the planet??? The woman whose voice made the love theme from Titanic sound like she was saying “…my hot dogs go on forever…”?? And before you even THINK about commenting on that, readers, listen to the first chorus of that song and TELL me she is not saying the hot dog line… I swear to you that is what she is saying!

Now, for my last word on the whole issue of hosts… I don’t care what it costs, I don’t care if he is harder to work with than The Rolling Stones, I don’t care how many writers he wants. Hire Billy Crystal to be the permanent host of The Academy Awards. He is the only man who has made these shows consistently fun to watch for the whole 4-plus hours of the telecast. End of discussion.

As to the winners and losers, this was not the biggest mystery of all time, folks. Natalie Portman had that thing wrapped up when she put on that tutu. Colin Firth or Jeff Bridges were the two in line to win the Best Actor gold, and nothing was going to change that. That kid in The Social Network, the one that everyone thinks was in Superbad but wasn’t, was not going to win that award. He has three emotions in his acting repertoire, and two of them are “slightly confused but likeable.” I was pleasantly surprised that the Best Director winner, Tom Hooper, won over David Fincher. I was honestly shocked that Hailee Steinfeld lost to Melissa Leo, but the Best Supporting Actress category has always been the one where you get the shocks. Marisa Tomei, anyone?

I do wish they had kept the Lifetime Achievement Award a part of the main broadcast, because, well, the winners usually deserve the accolade. Same for the Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Do they slow down the pace of the show any more than the Cirque Du Soliel “interpreting” the Best Original Score nominees while dressed as insects?

All that being said, I thought the show was mediocre. The best moment of the night, honestly, was when Billy Crystal came onstage, and for a fleeting moment, I thought they had fired Franco and Hathaway mid-telecast and he was coming in from the bullpen to save the show. But the reaction he got from the audience may have signaled to someone in charge that he really needed to be the one to save the show, so we can hope.

For now, I am going to sit back, watch this year’s movies, and see what The Academy can do to make me want to watch next year’s show. Oh, who am I kidding… I will watch it… I may not like it, but I’ll watch it… I’m a movie fanatic… what can I say?