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March 8th, 2010

Congratulations to Kathryn Bigelow and the rest of the creative forces behind “The Hurt Locker,” which won Bigelow her first Academy Award for directing (first EVER awarded to a woman!), and another Academy Oscar statuette for Best Picture. All in all, it was a historic night.

But It didn’t go off without a hitch (or without strategic planning mistakes). Clearly this was no ‘Flame FAIL’ instance, as in the recent Olympics, when one of the hydraulic supports failed to rise during the process of lighting the ‘indoor’ Olympic flame. Instead, the 82nd Academy Awards were hobbled by bad choices, strategic errors and poor pacing. Beginning with a peppy number by talented actor/singer/comedian Neil Patrick Harris, the Oscars apparently bought the idea that any Televised Award Show will be buoyed by NPH: this multitalented hoofer has hosted the Emmys and the Tonys, and now he’s earned the “Award Show Trifecta” by opening the Oscarcast as well. It is not my intention to disparage Mr. Harris, who is a very talented performer – rather, I’d like to dispararge Oscar producers Bill Mechanic (who bragged that no one should miss the opening hour because it would change Oscar history forever… Unfortunately, he was correct, though ‘not in a good way) and fellow producer Adam Shankman, who have, in conjunction with last years’s producers Lawrence Mark and Bill Condon, turned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ‘Oscars’ awards ceremony into  a hybrid of the Tony Awards and the Emmys. Very little remains of the Chuck Workman-style montages during the show which celebrate film; they have been replaced by chatty audience interaction, dopey humor (SEE ‘Ben Stiller’s  Make-up Award’) or song & dance numbers, of which there were at least 3 last night. In short, the Academy Awards, which once celebrated FILM, now seem more aimed toward live performance. Call me a moss-backed conservative when it comes to film (I prefer the term cinema purist), but I believe the Academy Awards ceremony should honor film the most. Granted, there are performances captured in movies, but - and this is important – they take place on film, which is edited, sweetened, ‘tweaked’ and all sorts of other things to bring out its essential qualities as the medium of film.

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