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Decoding the Oscars: Five show moments that make (a little) more sense in context

March 1, 2011 |  7:59 am

Fergu
OK, so it's been 36 hours, but before we can fully put this year's Oscars and His Hostness James Franco to bed, we thought we'd go back and examine some of the more eye-catching, and head-scratching, moments from the ceremony. Below, five of those moments/subjects, with a little more background and reporting on why they happened the way they did.

Charles Ferguson's angry speech: To many viewers, Ferguson provided the most honest, and perhaps startling, moment of an otherwise predictable night when he accepted his Oscar for "Inside Job" as best documentary with the line, "Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong." It might have seemed out of left field amid all the backslapping and forced patter. But the documentarian actually has been saying these kinds of things about the financial crisis ever since his movie premiered at Cannes last year. In the fall, he told 24 Frames of those who perpetrated the financial crisis that "the degree of their dishonety and their shamelessness is extreme." Ferguson said he had an even more scabrous version of his documentary -- which is bloodboiling enough as it is -- but decided to adjust it in an effort to reach the broadest audience possible. 

The shorts winner with the  Sideshow Bob hair: It seemed as if Luke Matheny, the winner of the shorts prize, was simply winging a speech when he ran up from the back of the Kodak Theatre after "God of Love" was called as the surprise winner for live short. Matheny tells 24 Frames he in fact had written out most of the speech -- not because he expected to win but because academy officials told everyone to prepare no matter what. "I actually had written it all out, but I was so excited it probably seemed more spontaneous than it was," he said. Except, of course, for his haircut joke. "I kind of came up with that a few minutes before." Matheny, who's back in New York to work on a new feature ("Ron Quixote" -- he wouldn't say what it's about) before moving out to Los Angeles next month, had an interesting end to the evening. After the Governors Ball, he and his collaborators headed to Mel's Drive-In, where "some drunk guys tried to hold the Oscar." He also got locked out of the apartment he was staying in and had his rental car towed. It was probably worth it, though.

Those cute kids in the T-shirts: Everybody loves kids, even kids from Staten Island, especially when they seem genuinely happy to be there (unlike, say, some presenters). How did the little bundles of joy from PS 22 end up on the Kodak stage? The fifth-grade choir --which has become a YouTube sensation for their choral covers of pop hits -- was invited by Hathaway herself after Oscars producer Bruce Cohen was made aware of them by actress Elizabeth Banks. But some questions about the heartfelt moment remain unanswerable. Why did they turn up only at the end of the show, and wearing T-shirts instead of dress shirts, as though they had just come from a bake sale? And who on God's green earth decided they should sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" instead of a song that kids in the last 50 years might actually be inclined to sing?

Montage mania: To many viewers, the first 10 minutes of the show, where James Franco and Anne Hathaway were inserted into clips of some of the best picture nominees (and Franco got a chance to act instead of host) actually provided some of the best moments of this year's Oscars. But didn't it seem a little like something Billy Crystal did back in the '90s? Well, it did, and for good reason. The director was one Troy Miller, who's done these montages for the Oscars half a dozen times and also notched work on the MTV Movie Awards. (He's pulled off, for instance, a bit in which the Brady Bunch was inserted into "A Few Good Men" back in the early '90s; you can read more about Miller here.) But why were some of the best picture nominees -- including Franco's own "127 Hours" -- absent from the montage?

Miller told TheTimes that he wanted some of the other nominees in there, and in fact felt remorse that he didn't include them.  "127 Hours" was "part of it, and I kind of regret that we didn’t do it. Because it’s such a great movie and James was in it," he said. "We had a lot of really funny jokes and set pieces that could have gone in there, but with timing, there were a lot of films we couldn’t cover, like 'Toy Story 3' and 'Winter’s Bone' and other things that were in early drafts."

James Franco: Well, this one stumps us too. Did he genuinely not care, or did he just want to make it seem as though he didn't care? More important, do we care?

RELATED:

Oscars: What's next for the winners?

Red carpet photos

Complete Coverage: The Oscars

-- Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: "Inside Job" director Charles Ferguson and producer Audrey Marrs accepting the Oscar for best documentary. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times


 
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James Franco - the gift that keeps on annoying. Earlier today I was reminded of his comment after some tech awards were announced: "Congratulation[s] nerds." How sophomoric. I'd love to be on the set of his next picture when a "nerd" is called on to make Jimmy boy look "cool." I learned long ago to separate a performer's art from his/her real life, but Franco (as good as his work has been) is making it hard.

"Somewhere" isn't part of the title of the "Wizard of Oz" song "Over the Rainbow."


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