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February 23, 2009

Thumbs up and down to Oscarcast

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Ratings for the "81st Annual Academy Awards" are coming in, and they look to be 13% better than last year, with some 36.3 million people tuning in to the live telecast.

So, that's not bad news for ABC and the Academy.

But the reviews are also in, and some of them are downright hateful. While Defamer has declared it "pretty darn gay," meaning that in a good way, and THR found it "a heartfelt, elegant and stylish affair that played with uncommon flair," the L.A. Times took issue with what the bitter critic called first-time host Hugh Jackman's "chorus boy spaz-out" and the "mini-mentoring sessions" as prior winners introduced current nominees.

Hey, we liked that part.

84979537 So did Brian Lowry at Variety, who found a number of high points but ultimately thought the overhauled show from the "Dreamgirls" team of Larry Mark and Bill Condon was "unlikely to expunge the Oscars' age lines or chart a new direction for the telecast."

Gold Rush commenter Mary thought Jackman hit it out of the park and Philippe Petit should be invited back every year but, like us, still finds the whole shebang butt-numbingly long.

"The truth is someone in the Oscar show editing room is going to have to drown some kittens if they really want me to have faith in the live show. They may find their time-wasting montages precious and irresistible but I don't! And, seriously, a pink slip to the person responsible for including a snippet of 'Nights of Rodanthe' in any portion of an Oscar broadcast. Quickly, my smelling salts!"

"Another strong recommendation: either cut the show to under three hours or start the damn thing earlier. Think of the Super Bowl, people! That baby goes on forever -- forever! -- yet viewers actually get to see the end of the game, regardless of their time zone, because the action begins at a realistic hour."

Now there's an idea -- the Super Bowl for Women learning something from the Super Bowl. When even the manly men at our party were digging the kudofest, we'd thought it was going rather swimmingly. We sure didn't sense a bomb. 

Other suggestions for improvement out there? Reaction to the show? Let it fly.

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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