If I ran the Oscars: Pop maestro Kristian Hoffman goes for broke
In this interview series, we ask a host of famous free thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Next to the podium this week: singer-songwriter-artist Kristian Hoffman, whose past efforts include the Mumps and collaborations with Rufus Wainwright, Dave Davies, Klaus Nomi, El Vez and Ann Magnuson.
Kristian, which performers and films will the academy voters pick to win the Oscars this year?
Judging by the past, it will be like Obama's healthcare plan -– pleasing nobody, angering many, but with a very small amount of inarguable, Oscar-worthy, meaningful-adjacent sentimental wins that everyone can agree on as minor triumphs. Colin Firth, anyone? Especially because he not only overcomes his "impediment," but he also concurrently sends his entire nation into war, which the whole world apparently loves!
So if you were in charge of academy votes, who would go home with an Oscar?
I think Jeremy Renner ("The Town") should go home with ALL the Oscars, 'cause he's just as cute as a button. Loved him in "28 Weeks Later"! But please God, save us from Christian Bale in "The Fighter" –- he's the new Jim Carrey, and that's not meant as a compliment! The scenery he chewed in that film could have saved a million starving wannabes all over the planet.
Which films and performers from the past do you feel deserved the Oscar but didn't receive one?
Gosh -– where to start? "Whistle Down the Wind" (1961)? "Performance" (1970)? For sure "The Chronicles of Riddick" (And I'm NOT joking: for pure B-movie repeat-viewing spectacle, I’ve worn out that DVD more times than "The Women.") Can you NAME another film from 2004?
How about "Perfume"? Only the greatest movie of the last 20 years (besides "Precious," I guess)!
Here's some (not FDA-approved) food for thought: Each of these perennial favorites of mine have "Night" in the title -– "Night of the Hunter," "Night of the Iguana," "Nights of Cabiria," "Nightmare Alley" and "Night of the Living Dead." Yet all are, with certain pathetic exceptions, criminally Oscar-free.
I also think Milla Jovovich deserves an honorary Oscar for being inexplicably alluring and watchable no matter how low the "Resident Evil" franchise stoops.
And, obviously, Gabourey Sidibe was robbed! And I thought Julianne Moore should have won for "Far From Heaven."
Let’s talk about the ceremony itself. Which award categories would you add? Which need deleting?
As a musician, I would certainly add one for "Musical that LEAST embarrasses the music it claims to represent." Then there would be no "Grease," no "Walk the Line" -– the world would just be much better off.
However, "Velvet Goldmine" could be a sleeper and, of course, "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" would have been the "Goldfinger" gilded nude corpse of Oscar glory! "The Cool Ones"! "Wild in the Streets"! The "T.A.M.I. Show" would have been the un-ironic winner.
There should also be an award for the film that most charmingly and seductively advocates the noble position of destroying organized religion. "Golden Compass" is the obvious family favorite, while "Agora" was a rather more stentorian but still fetching second.
What part of the telecast would you remove? And what would you replace it with?
I would remove all the seats in the auditorium and replace them with a full bar and free condoms. I would also remove all the security, so riots and actual personal injury were possible. I'm tempted to remove any host who ISN'T Ricky Gervais.
Of course, I would remove the orchestra cuing the recipients to stop their "thank you" lists, because that's the only thing ANYONE cares about. However, they COULD have a picture-in-picture of the producers (and sponsors) hand-wringing and swearing (with signers for the hearing-impaired) during the "thank yous," and another camera on the celeb audience members leaving for a bathroom break. In fact, they should have a PIP in the bathroom during the acceptance speeches.
Which part of the Oscars would you never change?
The musical numbers! They make cringing a participation sport.
Well said. The fashion parade on the red carpet seems to have become as important a part of the ceremony as the awards themselves. What dress code rules would you mandate there?
Full body scanners, and doctors with pool cues pointing out all surgical enhancements and marking them with indelible Sharpies.
Who would be your dream host or presenters?
Magician Rob Zabrecky would be a dream host because he would make anyone who bored him disappear. Ex-Sex Pistol, now DJ, Steve Jones would make a great presenter.
How about musical performers?
Too late for the Cramps –- they should have done "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" every year! Perhaps they should have Prince Poppycock interpret all the nominated songs.
Who would receive your honorary Oscars for lifetime achievement?
Roman Polanski, Eve Arden, Rita Tushingham and Orson Welles.
Do you have a favorite (good or bad) Oscar moment from the past?
Favorite: The intolerable "Saving Private Ryan" being shut out of the best picture award by the rather twee bit of fluff "Shakespeare in Heat" -- I mean, "Love."
And lastly, Kristian, let’s give you an Oscar this year for all your hard work. Let’s hear your acceptance speech.
"Thanks! Where's Jeremy Renner?"
-– Paul Gaita
Photo credit: Rocky Schenk
Kristian Hoffman and friends will perform songs from his new album, “Fop,” at the Steve Allen Theater on Feb. 4.