Monday, February 23, 2009

A Real Song And Dance

I really liked the Oscars. I did. I thought the new approach was brilliant. It was fresh and exciting. Hugh Jackman was a great host. The musical numbers were fun. I even like the five-headed hydra presenters. Of course, there is a “but” here.

They had slyly put out the word that this would be a “stripped down” Oscars due to the current economy. But that that wasn’t really true. The million dollar Swarovski crystal curtain put the lie to that, as did Queen Latifa’s sultry eulogy to the stars. No, what it was was a retro Oscars, one that had less glam and more class, and a lot more music. The retro theme, the swing tempos to the music, the band on stage, was all a pean to Hollywood glamour of the golden age. Jackman, who in spite of being known as Wolverine is really an accomplished song and dance man who, before X Men, won raves as Curly in Oklahoma in the West End and who has sung at Carnegie Hall, and is also the reigning “sexiest man alive” was the perfect host. I am a comedy guy, but for too long the Oscars have been under the thumbs of comedians who, while they might individually be great, have sapped the Oscars of life and energy and, especially, elegance. The whole evening, in a way, had a message that is born out of the current recession. In the 1930s musicals were Hollywood’s bread and butter. People went to the theatre to escape. Last night’s message, shouted out by Jackman at one point, was “the musical is back!” The evening was mostly a setup for the musical numbers. His “stripped down” medley about the nominated films (Billy Crystal eat your heart out), with its cardboard cut out oscars, was in fact a set up for the main production number, a true Busby Berkeley style song and dance for which Jackman donned white tie and tails and, along with Beyonce, the casts of Mama Mia and High School Musical, and a huge chorus, sang a medley of show tunes that appropriately started and ended with “Top Hat.” The winners? Who cares? Well, ok Slumdog won, and the celebration included a Bollywood dance number to its two nominated songs (one of which won). Jackman pointed out that Mama Mia had outgrossed The Dark Night in Europe.

The “but” is that, at four hours plus the red carpet, it was still deadly by the end.


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