Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Last Time Ellen DeGeneres Hosted the Oscars

Tomorrow, Ellen DeGeneres will host the Academy Awards for the second time. So, it's a good time to see how she did the last time she hosted in 2007.
As you can see, she started the evening in this red velvet suit, and did one of her monologues similar to those that start her daytime talk show. There was even dancing at the end by a gospel choir welcoming everyone.

The 2007 Oscars was one of the longest ceremonies at about three and a half hours. Some TV critics, as they usually do, declared the whole thing boring. Others thought she was a nice change from recent hosts Chris Rock and Jon Stewart, who were chosen to give the show an "edge".
When I first owned a DVD recorder (a previous model) I would tape everything, or convert my VHS cassettes into DVDs. This included three Oscar ceremonies I happened to have. So, I looked at the 2007 awards last night.

It was long and a bit tedious, but not because of Ellen. She was chosen because she was the safe choice. There were some jokes about whether Al Gore would run again in 2008, but the humor was mostly like this:

These are from the YouTube Oscar channel. You can go here to see more from 2007, along with other Oscar moments.

There could have been cuts here and there. We can start with Chris Connelly's backstage comments that added nothing to the show, and either shorten or cut out those montages. I can see having a package on the 50th anniversary of the Foreign Language film category, but not on how the movies saw America or the writing process. The opening montage that honored the nominees, including the late great Peter O'Toole remarking that he'd been nominated eight times, was a good idea. It did include less famous people who were nominated many times but didn't win.

This was also back in the days when the show included special Oscars, like one to composer Ennio Morricone. However, Celine Dion singing "I Knew I Loved You" could have been cut.

One good idea, though, was having Will Farrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly singing about how comedy gets no repsect at the Academy Awards.

That turned out to be ironic. Little Miss Sunshine enjoyed the best Oscar success by any comedy in years by getting Original Screenplay and Alan Arkin winning supporting actor.

Another great moment was Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg coming out to present Best Director, hoping that Martin Scorsese would finally win for The Departed. The plan worked, because he did.

Some other observations:

Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith looked cute giving out short subject awards, but the fact that she did a better job at it may tell you something.

Adam Sandler was actually in an Oscar-nominated movie. It was Click, and it was up for Best Makeup. It should have been Punchdrunk Love.

There was a bit of sadness seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman (that's how you spell his name, CBS News) present Best Actress to Helen Mirren, and O'Toole losing again. He did get an honorary Oscar a few years before, but he said he would have rather gotten one the old fashioned way. His fans agree, still wondering why he didn't get one for Lawrence of Arabia.

There was a acrobatic troupe called Pilobolus that recreated some of the nominated movies' iconic moments, and the Oscar itself. It even included the logo for Snakes on a Plane, which in some way led to Sharknado.

Both Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima were up for awards. They looked at the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Allies and Japanese perspective (Letters making the Best Picture list). I wondered if anyone thought of re-editing both movies to make a longer one, or at least the parts connected to the Battle of Iwo Jima. That would have been interesting.

There was also the annual speech by Academy President Sid Ganis, which was only a minute because he had a bet with Ellen. Anyway, it ended with the announcement of plans to build a movie museum on a lot in the middle of Hollywood. Those plans evolved into the future Academy museum, which wound up at Wilshire because of several reasons including the stock market crash of 2008. That spot, however, is being used for outdoor showings of movies....

This year, viewers (and yes, TV award show "experts") are hoping for an exciting fast-paced Academy Awards. No bloat or filler. Just a lean, efficient and entertaining show. None of these rambling conversations with directors, or vacuuming at Penelope Cruz's feet near the end of the show. No special awards because they've been spun off into another ceremony that the Academy will someday allow us to see, even online. We'll get brief highlights, and that's it. Still, in the case of Angela Lansbury finally getting an honorary Oscar, what's an extra ten minutes between friends if we add that to the main show? Besides, her success in TV will get people to see her.
Ellen will do the same type of monologue as before, because that's her style. She may have less hair, but it would still another monologue in the style of her talk show. It would be a hoot if she started the show by "landing" on the now Dolby Theater stage, as Sandra Bullock did in Gravity. That'll add some edge.

Besides, the real edge that show will provide is whether 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle or Gravity wins Best Picture. Just no rambling Chris Connelly, please.

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