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Monday, February 25, 2013

Confessions of an Oscar junkie

I planned my annual soup-exchange party for Sunday, February 24. My friends had all responded and the date was set.

Then I found out the Oscars were that night. I had to change my party date.

It's embarrassing to be a movie junkie. Worse, I share the addiction with my husband, Mike, so we enable each other.

I was excited all day Saturday and Sunday in anticipation of the  Oscars. Sunday afternoon, I prepared: no, not with a fancy dress and a group of friends at an Oscar party, but with my fuzzy pink robe, my recliner, and my man in his recliner. Now that's comfort. I like to watch glamor, but I don't want to be it.

I must confess that although I'm a movie junkie, I'm a popular culture dummy in many ways. I catch up on movie stars I know in the occasional People magazine in doctors' offices (one of my dirty little secrets and always a cheap thrill). But I'm almost a TV dropout (the only show I watch is "Modern Family"), and we don't have cable.

So during the pre-Oscars red carpet show, I had to ask Mike "Who is that Kristin Chenowith?" I loved her beautiful - and modest - gown, that accentuated her petite figure. Mike knew who she was, probably from late-night TV, which he sometimes watches after I go to bed.

Whew! That Kristin! Caffeinated or what? I've always thought of myself as a cheerful person, but holy cow, I'm Scrooge compared to her. Her cheer became overwhelming; she fairly chirps. I did get tired of hearing her call grown women "Girlfriend." And (as a five-foot-one person myself), I wanted to tell her, "Kristin, no one cares how short you are. This show is not about you." She does seem sweet, but you might get cavities if you watched her too long. 

My fave look of the evening was Charlize Theron's. Amazing white gown for her body, and can you believe how stunning she looked in that simple hairdo? That is true beauty. Halle Berry looked gorgeous in her short hair too, as usual. Maybe more actresses should try the scissors.

The long locks don't always flatter everyone (Take a hint, Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Chastain).

The dresses were pretty but man, some of them looked HARD. I mean HARD like a Batman costume with the molded abs. I don't think a dress should look like a metal bra. Ouch.

All the red-carpet interviewers asked the actresses an obnoxious question: "Who are you wearing?" Come on, man. I get the process, I really do - the stars get to drape free beautiful gowns on themselves, and drip free gorgeous jewelry from themselves, in exchange for advertising famous designers. But really. Boring. I liked the mother of a star (can't remember who) who said "I pulled this out of my closet."

The stars looked great. It's fun to watch. I'm always amazed at the Michelle Obama arms, lack-of-stomachs, and beautiful posture. I can't imagine standing and posing like they all do, for the zillion cameras. That would be so boring. I do wonder who popularized this hand-on-hip pose they often affect.

The messiest hairdo awards should be shared by Helena Bonham Carter and Kristen Stewart. Holy rat's nests!

I had never seen Seth McFarland before, but I saw his movie "Ted" and it was some of the worst punishment I've ever sat through. I only laughed at one part, when Marky Mark recited his litany of slut names. That @#%^*+#@#* bear was too crass and in-your-face. Thank goodness we got the film from a RedBox for 79 cents.

I was pleasantly surprised with McFarland. Good looking in a 50s way, beautiful singing voice, nice smile. His song, "I saw your boobs," shocked me at first but then I thought, Yup, that's right. You did. I liked when Jennifer Lawrence pumped her fist as he sang that he'd not yet seen hers. I hope she keeps that record. No actress should feel that she must bare her breasts for a role; heaven knows she'll be upstaged by them, after all!

Here's an odd bit of trivia that seems like it may be true: my husband heard on today's morning radio that the clip of Charlize Theron as she sat in the audience looking disgusted at the mention of her name in the "boobs" song had to have been pre-taped; in reality, she was obviously in the wings offstage, ready for her appearance dancing, which happened right after the boobs song. If it's true that they spliced in a pre-recorded video of her, it's very dishonest television, like when they pre-videotape people's disgusted expressions on reality TV and show the clips at appropriate moments, even though they didn't happen that way in "real" life.

I didn't mind the very LONG intro with Captain Kirk. But I'll tell you what bothered me to the point of a headache: the repeated montages of movie clips, from the 007 tribute to the bits of best movie nominees. In my opinion, video montages are as obnoxious as song medleys. Don't they know that some of us have a long enough attention span for more than clips?

I know they must keep the Oscars moving, but the "Jaws" theme was funny in a rude way. I didn't like when they "Jawed" off "The Life of Pi" visual effects team during their Oscar acceptance speech. The winner was trying to let the world know that the "Pi" Rhythm &Hues animation studios have filed bankruptcy. Rhythm & Hues isn't the only animation studio going under. This is an important bit of movie news - and history - that shouldn't have been cut off.

I enjoyed the real singing by real people (I hope it wasn't lip-synced). I love and bless that smoky-voiced Adele - thank you for being a big beautiful woman in an entertainment world full of women who seldom eat! Barbra Streisand was gaw-jus  singing a beautiful tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, and I must say I've come to love her from her recent appearances in films (the Fokkers movies, "The Guilt Trip"). I have a tender spot for the very young Jennifer Hudson, even though her voice hurts my ears. I wish she'd tone it down a bit. During the ensemble "Misérables" song, I wish they had given a close-up to Russell Crowe, whose voice is so much more pleasant to listen to than that of the beautiful Hugh Jackman (Sorry, Hugh).

Finally, the awards. I was delighted that Jennifer Lawrence won best actress. She's had me since "Winter's Bone." She's a powerhouse. And I loved it when, after she took a tumble (young women these days don't know how to pick up a long dress any more than they know how to wear a slip), she laughed about it. (Did you notice that even when she tumbled, she looked beautiful?)

I was SO glad that "Lincoln" didn't win. It was an earnest, important movie about a national shame and a beloved president played by a superb actor (hooray for Day-Lewis for winning that award), but it was an hour too long. There's no excuse for that.

But "Argo"? Best movie? Here's what I think the criterion should be for best movie: it should be one you'll never forget.

I'll never forget "Les Misérables." I'll never forget "The Life of Pi." I'll never forget "Zero Dark Thirty." I could see any of those getting the top award. But "Argo"? Yes, it was good but I'm afraid it was forgettable. I had to think pretty hard to remember its details. I loved "Silver Linings Playbook," but I think that as with "Argo," I'll be hard-pressed to remember its details in a few months. I feel the same about "Beasts of the Southern Wild." I loved all the actors and especially the beautiful little girl, Quvenzhané Wallis. I love Louisiana and its history of floods. But the forced symbolism was too much. Giant wild boars? Really? The obviously very sincere movie-makers tried too hard to make a FILM instead of a movie.

I haven't seen "L'Amour" yet, but I look forward to it. (How could it be nominated in two categories??) I will never watch "Django" or any other Quentin Tarantino film - his movies are punishment for me. I can't stand being battered by ultra-violence delivered with a smarmy laugh.

However, I loved what Tarantino said when he picked up his award for best original screenplay: He said that the most important thing is story, not script.

I agree. Over and over to to my writing students, I've said, "Story trumps style." Story, and I might add novelty. How else can you explain the run-away success of such clunkers as Love Story, The Bridges of Madison County, The Shack, DaVinci Code, and Fifty Shades of Grey?

Story trumps style. My pick for best picture would have been "Les Misérables." It was eminently moving and it told a human story that is universal. It had both story and style. And in the theatre where I saw the movie, the whole audience burst into applause at the end of it. How often do you see that nowadays?

Here's a story I'll never forget: the tale of the real-life musician Rodriguez in the movie that took the Oscar for documentary feature, "Searching for Sugar Man." It's a beautiful account of an American singer who never "made it" in the US in spite of the fact that, unknown to him, he became huge in South Africa and his lyrics fueled the anti-Apartheid movement. The story proves that truth is stranger than fiction.

I loved when Anne Hathaway accepted her award and said, "Here's hoping in the not-too-distant future, the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and not in real life."

Bless you, Anne Hathaway. The plight of single mothers was all I could think about during Hathaway's entire heart-wrenching singing of "I dreamed a dream." I volunteer for HOPE Network, a charity helping families led by single mothers, and I can promise you this: in 2013 just as in 1982 when I founded HOPE, people are prejudiced against single mothers. It's a vicious prejudice that can only hurt children. I don't understand it. So brava, Anne Hathaway, and brava for your earnest listing of the names of people to thank.

Daniel Day Lewis cracked a couple of much-needed jokes when he picked up his best actor Oscar. By then the night was very, very long (somewhere along the way the momentum died - I think it was those dumb movie clip montages). I have always loved Day-Lewis and I've seen every one of his movies. I got a charge out of how almost geeky he seems. A handsome, talented, intelligent, good-humored, very-married and slightly-geeky recluse. I love the man!

Ang Lee seemed like the picture of humility when he picked up his best director award for "The Life of Pi." It made me like him, and because I loved "Pi," I'll finally forgive him for his lame special effects-ridden "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (I'll never figure out the scene where the main character, who can fly, has to WALK up the hundreds of  stairs of the mountain).

I'm not sure what the First Lady is doing as part of the Oscars show, but her speech was lovely and she delivered it with graciousness. Her dress was beautiful (metallic black and grey with a geometric design, like many of the actresses), but I think she could use a pair of scissors also. Her bangs were shorter and cuter at the Inauguration.

That's the poop from your no-glamor reporter and sometime movie critic, wearing a fuzzy pink robe, with a cat on her lap, watching TV from a recliner.

Gail Grenier is the author of Calling All Horses, Dog Woman, and Don't Worry Baby, all available from


  1. What an enjoyable "read." Thanks for the sharing Gail!

    1. Hi Allyn!

      Thanks for your nice comment. I don't usually write a blog post this LONG. But there was so much fun stuff to comment about. I hope I didn't sound too mean. I don't want to be one of THOSE. I prefer to be just a little sassy.

    2. Hey Allyn, I woke up this morning (Tuesday) & decided to delete my bit about Kristen Chenowith doing a voice-over for Alvin & the Chipmunks. That just seemed too mean. If God gave her that voice, who am I to knock it? Anyway, thanks again for the comment.

  2. I found your wrap up of the Awards very entertaining and down to earth. I love that you watched it in your fuzzy pink robe in your comfortable recliner. Although I didn't watch the awards I saw many people the next morning commenting on everything, but mostly what the kind of outfits the actors/actresses were wearing. I have always thought the question of "who are you wearing" was a rather strange way of putting it.

    1. Especially strange if you imagine a star actually wearing a person. Like Bjork with her swan dress only more cumbersome!

  3. I love your humor, Gail! I was curled up in my jammies, with a blanket on the couch. I loved the singing and dancing - Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum looked elegant, though I was partial to a little soft shoe.

    I do believe all the audience responses to the "boobs" song was pre-recorded. It would have been near impossible to have a camera ready (no editing if they didn't hit the cue perfect) - for the appropriate actor to respond in a way that made the response humorous, and do it all of that in time with the lyrics of a song they hadn't heard before. It doesn't bother me the way fake "reality" shows do, because they claim to be "reality" - Oscar night is entertainment, even though there is much reality mixed in.

    There were many beautiful gowns and many beautiful people. At least Helena Bonham Carter is going for a "look" - people watch her to see what crazy outfit or hairstyle she'll show up with - it's her brand. Kristen Stewart on the other hand just looked like she hadn't washed her hair in a week. And when she presented, Daniel Radcliffe had to practically point (maybe he actually did) to the words on the card, as she was staring off into space. Does that girl ever look happy or sound anything more than bored to tears? What a shame.

    I haven't seen Argo yet, I LOVED Le Miserables, and I thought Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln was magnificent. I did not find Lincoln to be too long. For me, a movie is only too long if at some point I'm fidgeting and wondering when it will move along. I was fully entranced the whole time while watching Lincoln.

    I want the thank you's to be short but heartfelt. They shouldn't start listing every actor, producer, and assistant producer they can think of. It takes thousands of people to make a movie, either they will be there until next week, or they will leave someone out. They should say - Thank you to the entire cast and crew. Thank you to my spouse and kids or parents or whoever it is that is the driving force in their lives - and how about thanking the writer, for giving them the story to tell in the first place! I know one actor, who routinely, in his award speeches. thanks not just the screenwriter, but the author of the original book, for creating the world and character that gave him that opportunity. Now that's my kind of thank you!

    1. Thanks for your comments, D.L.!! I agree about the mighty importance of thanking the writer. Yeah. That's it. Without the woids, nuttin' happens.

      You're right about Kristen Stewart at the podium. Maybe she was on pain pills for whatever put her in crutches. Thank God Daniel was there to rescue her, eh? Oh, I forgot to mention what a normal, down-to-earth gentleman he seemed to be in his runway interview. Lovely young man.

      I also LOVED the dance. I was amazed at how Charlize's dress FLOWED. I have to get me one of those gowns(oh yeah, and legs that are a foot longer!) haha

      I didn't fidget during "Lincoln"; I just slept. So did my husband. I think we might have been all right if we'd had a nap beforehand.

  4. LOVE your Oscar blog, Gail. The one thing I didn't like was the short time they gave some of the winners to accept their awards. Some of the production pieces were great but others....mmmm...not so great and this Oscar night may be the only time some of these recipients will ever receive an award and to play them off stage so they could show a Bond montage was, I thought, undercutting the very reason for the event.

    1. Dear Big Sister Says,
      Hey! I'M the big sis. What's going on here?? I agree with your assessment 100 percent. Bond montage...mmmm...really not worth it!

  5. I really enjoyed this blog Gail. I totally agree with D.L.s and your comments about how the writers should be thanked more. Without them, there would be no movie. I saw Jennifer Lawrence in Winters Bones too. She is an amazing young actress. I knew after that movie she was off to a good start. Ofcourse, I loved the end of your blog with the kitty in the lap:)