Monday, February 28, 2011

NIGHT OF THE OSCARS


As mixed reviews of the 83rd annual Academy Awards flood the internet, here’s what TV TALK thought about the biggest night on television.

For a complete list of winners, go to Oscar.com

Photo Courtesy: AMPAS
Firstly, the Oscars are definitely a class apart, standing out from any other award show in the world. While the level of excellence may vary from year to year, I definitely feel that the show can never disappoint. Even though last year’s hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were far from great, the show was still fun, and amazing to watch. This year might not go down as the best edition of the Awards in recent times, but it definitely had my attention throughout, even throwing me in peals of laughter every now and again. The presentation of lip-syncing dialogues as lyrics to songs thrown into films like Twilight Eclipse, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and The Social Network was definitely entertaining. 

Moreover, during the Oscars, I always look forward to innovative presentations, which were very much a part of this year’s show as well. The way Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis presented the Animated Feature and Animated Short awards (having the set light up into a visual from Shrek, the first film to win the Animated Feature award), was fascinating. 



The way Anne Hathaway  remembered the first ever Oscars, followed by Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem, coming in, wearing old-school dinner jackets, to present the Oscars for Screenplay was amazing. And even the way the Original Score nominees were presented with the orchestra doing a medley of numbers from each of the films was terrifically done. Celine Dion’s performance while presenting the In Memoriam was also one of the highlights of the show.


THE HOSTS—REFRESHING OR DRAB?
The show started with a hilarious sequence of the hosts being juxtaposed into scenes from the Best Pictures of 2010, with impressive guest appearances by Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman. One liners like host Anne Hathaway telling her co-host James Franco, "You look very appealing to a younger demographic as well,” were refreshing and funny. 

Besides Franco drawing perverted interpretations of the titles of films from the year gone by, there was no humor that was inappropriate and witless, which was a relief. Hathaway’s performance with references to her duet two years ago, with then host Hugh Jackman was really funny, even though I didn’t see the point in Franco turning up in drag at the end of it. Moments between the hosts like the time when Hathaway said, “I’m not modest; I’m just not nominated!” made for some laughs, and took forward their chemistry as was seen on the promos for the show. Franco seemed to have a lot less to say, as compared to Hathaway, which was fine by me, because she was the livelier host with a joie de vivre that was endearing and entertaining. I thought that Franco seemed a little subdued in comparison, which was disappointing, but Hathaway made up for that. Overall, I think their role on stage was a lot less meaty, as compared to what hosts of the Oscars usually have.  Despite that, for me, they did more than make up for the disappointing hosting of last year.

RED CARPET STYLE 

(Left to right) Reese Witherspoon, Hellen Mirren and Halle Berry
I have to say that, this year, the Oscars weren’t as impressive on the red carpet as compared to the Golden Globes. While there were a few stunning evening gowns being trailed into the Kodak theatre, I don’t think the outfits matched up to the glamour quotient and drama of the gowns worn by ladies like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Olivia Wilde and Eva Longoria at the Globes. It was interesting to see a mix of trends in terms of color, with red, blue, lavender and wine making a mark, even though more neutral tones like nude, grey and silver emerged as the most dominant trend. Further to that, I was most impressed with dresses worn by Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon and Helen Mirren. While Berry nailed the embroidered and sequined nude gown she wore, Witherspoon stood out in one of the very few black dresses of the evening, which was reminiscent of Julia Roberts’ Valentino that she wore when she won the Oscar in 2001. Mirren's dressing is always age-appropriate, despite being able to show how fit she is at her age. Her grey dress did wonders for her. As it turns out, the above ladies are all Oscar alumni—a group that could definitely be called the most stylish of the evening. Among other Oscar winners from recent times, Sandra Bullock displayed oomph and class in red.

(Left to right) Hilary Swank, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams
While Hilary Swank and Gwyneth Paltrow shimmered in silver, Penélope Cruz and Jennifer Hudson sizzled in fiery hues. Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett seemed to be the only exceptions in that group of past winners, with dresses that didn’t quite work with their silhouettes or patterns. Among this year’s nominees, Michelle Williams and Amy Adams got it right with their high necklines, as Jennifer Lawrence brought out the classic element of red with her simple gown. Winner Melissa Leo’s dress looked nice on stage and Natalie Portman’s wine-colored number looked rich and classy as she accepted her Best Actress statuette. Another impression in wine was Scarlett Johansson, who went with a look that was different from her classic red-carpet style, wonderfully pulling off a more contemporary gown and slightly disheveled hair. Other noteworthy appearances were those made by Mandy Moore and Hailee Steinfeld, both in nude-gold tones.

THE WINNERS
Natalie Portman accepts her Oscar for Black Swan
Hot favorite, The Social Network took away just three Oscars, one less than the highest number of wins in the evening—The King’s Speech and Inception, both with four each. Inception rightfully won for its stunning Visual Effects, Cinematography, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. I think that offered some consolation to disappointed audiences, who would have liked Inception to be named Best Picture, and for Christopher Nolan to have been nominated for the Direction award. When Tom Hooper won Direction, it sealed the deal for The King’s Speech, over The Social Network for Best Picture. Many feel that the Academy’s voters were just going with a more traditional choice, in that category, but I beg to differ. I think that The King’s Speech was the more superior film and hence the Academy rewarded it accordingly.

Colin Firth accepts his Oscar for The King's Speech
The Social Network did get its due, with being rewarded for its Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing and Original Score, all of which it had excelled in. Toy Story 3 took away two Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Original Song. Alice in Wonderland got its deserving wins in the Art Direction and Costume Design categories. 

Melissa Leo and Christian Bale accept their Oscars for The Fighter
Another film with two nods, The Fighter won Christian Bale and Melissa Leo Oscars. There were no surprises there, with both actors having delivered stellar performances in the film. Bale’s acceptance speech was touching, and Leo’s overwhelmed slip of tongue was funny, to say the least. Moving on to the Leading Role categories, I don’t think there was any doubt that Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Natalie Portman (Black Swan) would win this year. While I found Portman’s speech earnest and heartwarming, as she beamed with joy, I thought Firth could have made more of an impression while accepting.

After The King’s Speech joined the list of 82 Best Pictures, making Oscar history, the show ended in an offbeat way, with a choir of children performing, which didn’t have quite the impact, until all the winners from this year emerged from behind, taking a final bow. Like the ending of an opera or a theatric musical, I think it made a lot more sense than to have the hosts just saying good night after the Best Picture presentation. And with that, I’d conclude that as always, the Oscars did not disappoint in any way, proving itself, yet again, as being the best night on television and a class apart as compared to any other award show.


What did you think of the 83rd annual Academy Awards, the red carpet, the hosts, the show and the results? Share your views here. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

THE BIGGEST NIGHT IN HOLLYWOOD


It’s that time of the year, when my favorite season, the Award Season will come to an end, with the Grand Finale, which is none other than the one, the only Oscar! The 83rd annual Academy Awards will unfold this Sunday, and here’s a look at all that we should expect from the biggest night in Hollywood!

To see the complete list of nominees of the 83rd annual Academy Awards, CLICK HERE

We are just days away from the night when all the stars see red, while just twenty-four of them see gold! The Oscars are the one event I look forward to all year round, to the extent of feeling depressed as soon as they’re over, because that means I have to wait another year for the next edition. But as the year that began last year, after The Hurt Locker took award the Oscar for Best Picture comes to an end, let’s just take a look at what Oscar night 2011 has in store for us…

Photo Courtesy: AMPAS
THE HOSTS
When it was announced that James Franco (nominee for 127 Hours) and Anne Hathaway were going to host this year’s Academy Awards, I was thrilled. The last few years haven’t exactly been the best in terms of hosts. While Hugh Jackman was unexpectedly brilliant, and Jon Stewart lived upto expectations, funny-man Steve Martin and 30 ROCK star Alec Baldwin, last year, and promising Ellen DeGeneres, who came with great promise, were less than entertaining. After the Martin-Baldwin debacle of 2010, I am glad that the Academy has given a chance to younger talent, and how! Besides the fact that both Hathaway and Franco are promising stars, who will definitely see Oscars in their careers; those two just seem like a breath of fresh air in the promos of this year’s show. Hathaway’s number on stage with Jackman two years ago was one of the most memorable Oscar-hosting moments for me, so she seemed like the perfect choice. On the other hand, if there’s any young actor I’d like to see hosting, it would probably be James Franco. Rising from his supporting roles in the Spiderman movies, he’s shown brilliance in his craft with works like Pineapple Express, Milk and now, 127 Hours! He’s definitely one star to look out for. And look we will, on Sunday night, when he and Anne Hathaway will bring the Oscars to us.

THE PRESENTERS
(Left to right) Sandra Bullock, Hilary Swank, Jeff Bridges, 

Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry
A trend that the Oscars started was to have the previous year’s Best Actress winner present the Oscar to the current year’s Best Actor winner and vice versa. As much as I loved watching that happen, as though it was like them passing over the reins to successors, I really enjoyed the new format that they started with two years ago, with five previous winners in a category announcing the nominees for that category and presenting the award. This year, we will see quite a few of our Oscar alumni presenting. While Halle Berry (Best Actress, 2001), Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock (Best Actor and Actress 2011) were announced as presenters even before the nominees were announced, Tom Hanks (Best Actor, 1993, 1994), Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress, 2005), Cate Blanchett (Best Supporting Actress, 2004), Hilary Swank (Best Actress, 1999, 2004), Helen Mirren (Best Actress, 2006) and Javier Bardem (Best Supporting Actor, 2007) were subsequently revealed as this year’s presenters. And while former nominees Robert Downey Jr, Annette Bening, Josh Brolin and Jude Law will be up there to hand out a few statuettes, so will former host Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johannson, Matthew McConaughey and Russell Brand, among others. With the number of former alumni in the lists above, one can be sure to expect a power-packed presentation!

THE SHOW
The official poster of the 83rd annual Academy Awards
The hosts set the tone for the show, and then the rest is up to the presenters, but before it all gets started, it’s the red carpet that’ll capture everyone’s attention. This year, there have already been a number of distinct trends set by the red carpet events prior to Oscar night. While green was the richest hue at the Golden Globes, the color-scale that generally seems to working most is the beige-nude-pink gradient. Whether in full-sleeved, backless or strapless numbers, the strongest trend has been of those shades. And while black continues to be an evergreen element, we’ll have Robin Roberts, Tim Gunn, Krista Smith and Maria Menounos judge the best and the worst on the red carpet, as they are set to host the ‘Oscar’s Red Carpet Live’ on Sunday.

Moving inside, after the hosts set the mood, and the presenters take the show forward, the performances have to be gripping, because no one likes to have to wait for the next award, while watching mediocre performances. The performances have mainly comprised of the nominated for Best Songs, and that’s actually what makes the most sense.  Two years ago, they had a medley of the nominated songs, but last year, they went back to individual performances of the five nomiees. This year as well, we’ll have the nominated songs being perfomed. Gwyneth Paltrow will sing ‘Coming Home’ from Country Strong; AR Rahman and Florence Welch will perorm ‘If I Rise’ from 127 Hours; Alan Menken, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi will perform ‘I See the Light’ from Tangled; and Randy Newman will sing ‘We Belong Together’ from Toy Story 3. Going by the quality of the songs this time, the music will be good while we wait for the awards announcement.

THE AWARDS 
The ten nominees for Best Picture
Going by the winners at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, it seems clear that the acting awards will go to Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Christian Bale and Melissa Leo (both, The Fighter). However, if the Academy were to surprise us, the winners could also be James Franco (127 Hours), Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit). While Franco and Steinfeld would be deserving winners anyway, I strongly feel that Portman and Bale should be the only choice in their respective categories.

In Direction, while David Fincher does deserve an Oscar, I don’t think he deserves it for The Social Network. I’d give that one to Darren Arronofsky for Black Swan. Christian Bale may have, disappointingly, been left out of the Direction award nominee list, but his film, Inception hasn’t gone unnoticed. It may not win Best Picture, but I strongly believe that it stands a very good chance of winning Cinematography and Art Direction. The strongest competition there would have to be Alice in Wonderland, which should rightfully win in at least one of those categories. Inception should win Hans Zimmer an Oscar for Best Original Soundtrack, but again, the offbeat music of The Social Network winning that one might add to the predictability.

When it comes to Editing, I would give it to Black Swan, but I have a strong feeling that the Academy will honor The Social Network for executing its narrative. That brings me to Screenplay, which comprises of categories that usually offer consolation to near Best Picture winners, but this year, the competition is too tight for that. The Social Network will win Adapted Screenplay, which I would give to 127Hours, and while The Kids Are All Right might win Original Screenplay, I strongly feel that The King’s Speech will take that one away. The King’s Speech might get the Screenplay award as a consolation if it’s not winning Best Picture, but that’s the tricky part. While I think that Best Picture should go to The King’s Speech or Black Swan, I suspect the Academy will go the predictable way, as it has been, for the last two years at least, and give it to The Social Network.


So those were the predictions and the expectations from the awards. The show promises a lot, in terms of competitive wins and content on-stage. There’s no reason why this year’s edition of the Academy Awards should let us down in any way, so here’s hoping for an absolutely spectacular show.

Watch this space for views and comments on the red carpet, the hosts, the presenters, the show and the winners at the Oscars post the presentation. Meanwhile, comment below and tell me what you’re expecting from the show this year…

I would also recommend that you register yourself on http://oscar.go.com/, where you can involve yourself in a lot of interactive features, including listing down your own set of predictions for Oscar night.


Saturday, February 05, 2011

COMING TOGETHER


The camaraderie on BONES reminds me of all the friendships, family bonds, and other special connections that television characters have with each other. Read on and tell us which relationships on TV makes you feel all warm and fuzzy!

I recently started watching BONES, and it has become my latest addiction. It puts a lot of crime shows to shame, with its forensics, the gripping storytelling of complex, high-profile cases involving twisted murderers and serial killers. But what appeals to me most about it is how some of the cases involve the characters at a personal level, throwing them into predicaments, with the others coming to their rescue. Two seasons into the show and what I’m loving the most is the camaraderie between Bones, Booth, Angela, Hodgins, Zack and Cam. The strange and spark-filled friendship that Bones shares with Booth is one of the better relationships written for the screen. The romance between Angela and Hodgins grew in such a beautiful manner. Booth and Zack have an unspoken, unexpressed, yet sweet bond, and Bones and Angela have an unconventional ‘best-friendship’. I love the boss-and-subordinate relationship between Bones and her team and now Cam and the team. When it came to Bones being suspended for fighting a case that was not in favour of the FBI, or Bones finding out about her mother’s death, or Hodgins and Bones being buried alive in a car, or Cam joining the team when Bones and she had some friction going on, or when Zack was trying to get his doctorate and get a permanent position at the Jeffersonian, everyone stuck by their side, coming through for each other in a way that I think a lot of people can learn from. It reminds me of all the other shows that I watch and I realize that this is probably the one element I enjoy most in television.

Take the residents on Wisteria Lane in DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES for example. Right from the beginning, when Mary-Alice shot herself, to Lynette’s cancer, to Bree’s drinking problem, up until the most recent disaster episode when Lynette literally comes to Lee’s rescue, even though he and Bob had mistakenly betrayed all the residents, the show has had these warm moments all along that’s made it special for me. One moment I remember distinctly is the climax of S4, when Katherine needed to be protected from the police after shooting her ex-husband. Bree just had to tell the rest of the ladies that Katherine needed a cover story, and without asking questions or batting an eyelid, Susan, Lynette and Gaby put together that cover story and saved Katherine.

We all know that the doctors of Seattle Grace-Mercy West Hospital have had their share of disaster and depression. From the beginning of GREY’S ANATOMY, when Dr Bailey went from being the Nazi to being mama bear to her five interns, to S2, when everyone was there for Izzie when Denny died, to Izzie’s cancer and George’s death, to the aftermath of the S6 shootout, when all the doctors began to rely on each other in ways they never thought they would, Shonda Rhimes knows how to portray camaraderie better than many other writers. She created one of the simplest and sweetest expressions one could use to describe your best friend—‘your person’. Meredith and Christina are each other’s ‘persons’, just as Izzie and George were each other’s ‘persons’.

The cops on DEXTER have a strange bond too. Whether it’s Angel Batista treating Deb as his younger sister, or Dexter helping Finn get exempted from being a murder suspect, or everyone coming through for Dexter when Rita died, saying she was family, DEXTER’s quite out there with its share of camaraderie. GOSSIP GIRL’s Upper Eastsiders, Serena, Blair, Nate and Chuck always come through for each other when any of them are in need, and god help someone if they’re from Brooklyn and plotting against S or B! And everyone may always give Robin a hard time for being Canadian, or Barney for being such a man-whore, but the HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER five-some, always stick together just as snugly as their booth in McLaren’s keeps them tight. And while the weird households of MODERN FAMILY endearingly come together for an annual family photo, arranged by Claire Dunphy, and our favorite dysfunctional BROTHERS AND SISTERS, with mother Nora Walker stick together through thick and thin, Adam Braverman and his siblings are always there for each other when it comes to PARENTHOOD and everything else!

So there it is! The list is endless, but my point is, watching such stuff makes television so much nicer! Which on-screen relationships make it nicer for you?