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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Oscars: Most embarrassing moments -- so many to choose from!

February 28, 2011 |  1:14 pm

Melissa_leo This was the year my son, who is 12, decided to watch the Oscars with me. He's normally much more of a fan of the Grammys--which at least has a little hip-hop street cred--but he'd seen a few of the Oscar movies and was curious to figure out what all the hoopla was about. Well, all that curiosity lasted for about 90 minutes. Then, clearly bored, he left the room, saying he had to--gasp--do his homework. As for the show itself, he asked, "Do you really have to watch the whole thing?"

My theory is that he was turned off by all of the winners who thanked their parents, since at 12, the idea of parents being even remotely cool is a horrible prospect to consider. And it was weird to see how much parental love was in the air. In fact, so many winners thanked their parents that I almost thought I was watching the Country Music Awards, although at the CMAs most of the winners give an extra shout-out to God, not to their agents and publicists. The show itself was pretty snoozy. You know things have gone badly when the most endearing acceptance speech of the night was given by a boyishly, frizzy-haired winner of the best live-action short, who also thanked his mother.

As for the most embarrassing moments:

--Having academy boss Tom Sherak and ABC's Anne Sweeney eating up two minutes of airtime bragging about the academy extending their deal with the network. Who cares a fig about that?

--Of all the people in the world, why did the academy pick Oprah to introduce the best documentary feature? Tell me, exactly how many of those documentary filmmakers have ever appeared on her show?

--Why was the orchestra playing Aaron Sorkin off the stage halfway through his acceptance speech, drowning out the man who would clearly be the most articulate person to take the stage all night long? 

--If the academy wants the winner's speeches to be shorter, couldn't they simply tell everyone that they can't thank their agents, managers, publicists, fitness instructors and any other support personnel? It's gotten so bad I was worried that one of the winners was going to thank the reporter who did the nice puff piece in Entertainment Weekly too. 

--What exactly was Billy Crystal doing on stage, trying to milk a few laughs from the crowd? As Ken Levine wonderfully put it: "Watching Billy Crystal deliver that painfully desperate monologue was like looking at the nude photos of Nancy Sinatra in Playboy that she took when she was 54."

--I'm betting $100 that the academy gave that extra special "in memoriam" tribute to Lena Horne because--whoops!--the academy was feeling guilty that it didn't nominate any black people for Oscars this year.  

--Kirk Douglas is a movie god, but after having suffered a stroke, his speech is so slurred it's often impossible to understand him. Did the academy really think it was a good idea to make him a presenter, especially when his ad-libs clearly unhinged poor Melissa Leo so much that she shot off an F-bomb when she took the stage?

--In the midst of his otherwise coherent acceptance speech, did Christian Bale actually forget his wife's name? Or was he just really choked up?

--And maybe I'm just sensitive about this because I'm a writer, but wasn't it a little embarrassing for all those actors--Colin Firth excepted--who managed to thank their team of publicists and agents, but not the person who wrote the script that propelled them to Oscar glory?

--Patrick Goldstein 

Photo: Melissa Leo after receiving the supporting actress trophy from Kirk Douglas at the Oscars.

Credit: Gabriel Bouys / AFP/Getty Images

 

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