Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscars 2014

♫  It's a wonderful night for Oscar... Oscar, Oscar. ♫ 

I came this close to missing it because I got bored during the lackluster Red Carpet preview and almost forgot to turn back to the TV once the show started.

What went wrong on the Red Carpet? Nobody looked bad, which is a plus. Everybody just looked "blah". 

These last few award seasons, the stars have been going all out with color and fun for the Golden Globes and then playing it much too safe come Oscar night.

The first problem of the night, TOO MUCH BEIGE!!! 

It's as if everyone overbooked the same stylist who, for lack of inspiration and in a award-season panic, decided to pull life-sized pantyhose over the heads of the most famous bodies in the business, all the while assuring them of how great this will look great on camera. Not only did it not photograph well, but it gave me Winter Olympics flashbacks that it's just much too soon for me to be having. (And, at least Johnny Weir would have added feathers!)
Pretty and unoffensive were American Hustle's Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence's matching column dresses. (Adams in Gucci, Lawrence in Dior.) It was nice to see a pop of color and a few ladies who remember to structure from underneath. (I won't mention those who forgot their Spanx last night...)

Speaking of color!
How adorable was Lupita Nyong'o whipping around in her princess train all night?

Proving once again that she has the body and complexion to make any dress in any color look good (and winning bonus points for the mohawk-headband combo) she had my vote for Best Dressed on the Red Carpet.

But, then the show started and I saw Catherine Martin accept her award for Costume Design and I had to change my vote for best dressed.

The men showed up the ladies a bit by planning a white jacket conspiracy.

Pharrell even gave his wife an honorary invitation to this boy's club, for if only one night.

There's not much else to see here, so onto the show!

Ellen stepped up to hosting duties for a second time and played the part more as Delightful Party Hostess than M.C., but that's okay. Me likey!

From her clean-cut razzing of the nominees to her calling Hollywood out on its lack of education. ("Between all the nominees here tonight, you've done over 1400 films, 1400 films, and you've gone to a total of six years of college.") She never crossed the line and she usually brought the laughs.

The delightful thing about Ellen Degeneres is that she so good-natured that she can even get away with calling Liza Minnelli a drag queen. (Eliciting this sisterly response out of  Lorna Luft.)
Liza didn't care.  She was so excited to be welcomed by the Academy to its most sacred event, that she thanked them by acting like a pill all night.

First by annoyingly tugging on Ellen's arm while she was trying to take a joint selfie. (In Liza's defense, she didn't seem to understand the term "selfie".)

Exhibit B: She held poor Lupita Nyong'o hostage in the aisle while the Best Supporting Actress was trying to politely make her way up to the statuette that was waiting for her onstage. (Cute hair though, Liza!)

Lupita's win started a trend of acceptance speeches for the night. That trend being speeches that were actually genuine, heartfelt and appreciative. This made up for the fact that there were no real upsets or surprises in the big acting categories and it seemed to keep the band from playing anyone off stage.

Among the musical performances, I was surprised at all the nervous crackling that came from mouths of some of our most famous songstresses. 

U2 performed up to par and offered a bit of bonus entertainment when Bono kneeled to the ground and almost crawled off stage in his two-inch heels. (Tinted glasses and darkened rooms aren't usually a smart mix.) 

My favorite performance of the night was my boo, Pharrell Williams, jauntily singing "Happy" while simultaneously preventing forest fires. 

He even made the extra effort to trot offstage and take turns dancing with the female nominees that were seated in the front row. Starting with Lupita, swaying in her Nairobi blue. Moving on to Meryl, who busted out some seated Mama Mia moves. And, ending with Amy Adams, who cast an adorable "I killed this dance-off!" look on her face as she sat back down.

Other highlights included the largest celebrity megaselfie that, supposedly, shut down Twitter with its overload of reTweets.

(In that selfie moment, pesty Liza Minnelli got left out of the cool crowd that even Lupita Nyong'os nonfamous brother was eagerly welcomed into. "Back here! I know what a selfie is now! It's me, guys! Liza, with a 'Z'!")

At one point, Ellen sensed the hunger rippling through the crowd that had been onsite for hours and suggested ordering some pizza. I thought to myself, "If she really follows through with the pizza bit, Ellen will be my hero." So, in thirty minutes or less, I obtained a new hero.

She and a Big Mama and Papa's Pizza delivery man handed out hot slices to the hungry elite. (I'm venturing a guess that the Minnelli clan may have also left out of the grub.)
This was all fun, but there was one moment that has me still chuckling today.

No, it wasn't Jennifer Lawrence tripping and falling, once again. Been there, done that.

Was it Ellen introducing Kristen Bell and "Kristen B. Elle"?  Close.

It was John Travolta bringing out Idina Menzel to perform "Let it Go", but nonsensically referring to her as "The wickedly talented, one and only, Adele Dazeem!"

I thought I had heard him wrong during the broadcast. But, by morning, the internet had confirmed for me that John Travolta cannot read a teleprompter.

It wasn't even funny at the time. But, once a slight gaffe meets the bored hands of its witnesses, all funny heck breaks loose!

Oscar bloopers. The gift that keep on giv-ziggi-ning!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Grammy Wrap-Up 2014

After a lackluster Red Carpet and a ho-hum (but non-offensive) hosting job by LL Cool J, I had leery feelings about this year's Grammy Awards.  Fortunately, soon after, several memorable performances were able to pick up the slack and keep my finger off the remote.

This is your 2014 Grammy Wrap-up.

The Fashion: I'll skip my usual red carpet walk-through, 'cause I don't want to bore you with the Gaga-less pre-show that we were forced to endure. Let's just quickly tick the most talked-about looks off the list:

Taylor Swift: I've been happy to see Taylor trying something a little more grown-up these past few red carpet walks. Grammy night, she made a very rock 'n roll effort in shoulder to toe chain mail. My sources* tell me she asked her stylist to "Find me something as hard and heavy as my cold cold broken heart." (*Sources=The voices in my head.)

Katy Perry: A vision in treble clef.

Madonna: I was honestly surprised at the shock and awe the red carpet commentators showed over Madonna's look of the night. I mean, come on people.  It's the twenty-first century and she's 55 now. Let's not be amazed that the lady finally put on a pair of pants.

Pharrell's Hat: I adore Pharrell as I would a newborn kitten. He's usually the first man on-point on any red carpet, stage and probably even, grocery store. So, what was with the Addidas jacket/Mountie hat combo?  It's like he ran into the costume shop grazing one arm down the Run DMC rack and while the other got tangled up in camping goods. At least he could boast the warmest head in the nation during this polar vortex, if nothing else.

Macklemore: My boo decided to forgo the thrift shop for the biggest music night of the year and ended up looking tame and handsome in his velvet suit. (His male secretary looks pretty spiffy too.)

[Shake, Shake] You can wake up from your fashion coma now!
Let's move onto the Show: 

The Performances:
A shapely figure appears out of the shadows. She's curvy (so, not Miley), pantsless (can't be Madonna), steamy (is it Rihanna?) and she's starting to sing (...oops. Can't be Rihanna.)

As the camera finally pans to our opening diva's face we realize, "Oh, it's Beyonce!" I knew Beyonce and Jay-Z were slated to perform, once again, together on the Grammy stage.  I just didn't realize I was in for a case of the major TMIs.  Let's just make this short and sweet by saying the couple offered us an intimate peek into their bedroom (sorry, kitchen...) life.  By the time Jay was rapping, "I am Ike Turner. Baby know I don't play. Eat the cake Anna Mae. Said eat the cake Anna Mae!" with his wife grinning behind him, I was begging, "Keep your domestic abuse fantasies to yourself next time!"

Lorde took the stage just in time to cleanse the palate with an elegantly stripped-down version of "Royals". I just couldn't decide if the irony of the lyrics was completely lost on her audience that night, or if they'd just come to accept their jet planes, islands, tigers-on-their-gold-leash status.

I've been so impressed with the growth and maturity of Katy Perry this year. (Of which, I oddly credit to her relationship with John Mayer. Call him what you want, but he does net the recognition of being a true musician.) I was taking this all in as her "Dark Horse" performance began. "Look at her hair. Her graceful dancing. What a lady she's becoming." Then her boobs lit up.

Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons set me to head-banging (gentle head-banging. I have a tender neck.) with their "Maad City/Radioactive" mash-up. Two things that stood out in this collaboration. One: Their obvious inspiration by someone's participation in a Color Run. Two: Their cooperation in sharing percussion duties.

Speaking of Head-banging: Taylor Swift's "All Too Well" performance I found to be actually enjoyable for a change. I rooted this girl on throughout her teens, impressed by her writing her own music and running her own empire at such a young age.  But, once her twenties came along, "the change" never happened that you usually see in artists at this crossroad. She was still complaining about boys breaking up with her. But, guess what Taylor? That's what boys do. That's what men do. That's why you've amassed your own huge fortune to support yourself with. Welcome to the age of feminism! But, I can't lie and say I don't enjoy the short-lived game of Guess Who? that's involved each time a new single is released. "Who's this one about?" A quick Google search tells me Jake Gyllenhaal. Truth in lyrics? I don't know. Something tells me if she really left her scarf at Maggie Gyllenhaal's house, it's most like being used as a baby sling. (And, it's time to make a choice Taylor. Turn left, turn right... it's your choice. But, you GOT to move forward. That's what happens at the crossroad.)

Pink took to the aerial silks once again for her "Try" performance, reminding us she will always have a fall-back career in the Cirque du Soleil.

Robin Thicke and Chicago filled their ho-hum duties by being one of the less-stellar old school/new school match-ups of the night. Chicago did earn ten extra bonus points from me, however, by managing to keep their butt-cracks off of Robin during the "Blurred Lines" segment.

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and newly dubbed Highwayman Blake Shelton kicked up some country bumpkin fun with a nostalgic performance of "Oakie from Muskogee" and "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys". I was impressed with the number of hot shots in the audience who managed to sing along through the entire medley. It seems we all shared the same family road trip experiences.

Metallica plus classical pianist Lang Lang had us first saying "Huh?" and then screaming "MORE!!!" And, how shallow (and old) do I sound when I mention that they're all still as hot as ever? Metallica, that is. Not Lang. Well, fine Lang... we'll give you one night only of hot-by-association.

Which leaves us with Macklemore, Mary Lambert, Madonna and Queen Latifah (I'd mention Ryan Lewis too, but I'm still not sure what he actually does. Macklemore's fluffer?) with their beautiful ceremonial collaboration of "Same Love" and (seriously) "Open Your Heart". (Am I the only one who could have done without the "Open Your Heart"?) I use the word ceremonial with good reason too. There was actually a wedding ceremony performed during the medley! 33 couples (a mix of both gay and straight) wed to the lull of Mary Lambert cooing, "She keeps me warm ♫" while Queen Latifah performed the vow recital with, apparently, some sort of power vested in her. I was surprised at the odd backlash this segment received online immediately afterward. Not even over the issue of gay marriage, but because an awards show was seemingly not an appropriate place to hold a wedding ceremony. And, drunken in a Vegas drive-thru is?! Call me tacky, but if this is controversy, then point the finger of judgement directly at me too. I'm sorry, but weddings are boring. The commitment is beautiful, but the event is usually such a snooze. If I ever bite the bullet myself one day, may it please be at an awards show, with a half-sleeve tattoo and Mack, Mar and Mo as witnesses.

And, all the Rest... (ie. other uncategorized moments)

What? Huh? I understood the presence of Anna Kendrick. She is a sanger now too, you know. (Not to mention, a delightful presenter.)  But, Julia Roberts? Jeremy Renner? I fail to see the presenter connection here. And, I welcome Jeremy Renner anywhere, anytime with open arms... but, huh? Don't they have enough red carpet looks to worry about this season.

After the fun Guess Who? game during Taylor Swift's song, my brain just could not shut off. This led to me tabulating during the In Memoriam segment. And, if the averages of the list are to be believed, the three most deadly music genres: country, jazz and classical piano. (But, you might want to check my math on that...)

Jay-Z dedicates Best Rap Collaboration win for "Holy Grail" to God. (Lyric sample: "Blue told me to remind you n-----s. F--k that sh-t y'all talkin; about. I'm the n---a, caught up in all these lights and cameras. But, look what that sh-t did to Hammer. G-d d-mn it I like it.") To which God replied, "No thanks, I'm good."

Daft Punk were the princes (or princesses? Who really knows what's going on under there) of the night winning four big categories. They could only share their thanks through an interpreter, but I have a sneaking suspicion they may have wed during the mass ceremony, undetected.

I saved a very special award for last. 

The Best Audience Member trophy goes to Steven Tyler!
He sang along, shimmied and rocked his brains out to every performance that came along. Then as presenter he literally sang his praises to his co-presenter, the great Smoky Robinson.  Why? Because someone handed him a microphone and he's Steven Tyler. May everyone have this much fun this award season.