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John Eby: Oscars wouldn’t last 127 hours if they lose the music

Published 12:25am Thursday, March 3, 2011

Maybe I tuned in to the 83rd Academy Awards Sunday night because this year I actually saw a couple nominees, “Inception” (cinematography, sound mixing, sound editing, visual effects, while director Chris Nolan had to sit there and hear his name a lot), “Toy Story 3” (animated feature film) and “Black Swan” (very pregnant Best Actress Natalie Portman).

ebyPlus, I heard raves about “The Fighter” from my family.

It certainly wasn’t for surprises because there weren’t any when it comes to gold paperweights.

Maybe I was curious about younger, hipper hosts, but I hope James Franco and Anne Hathaway are one and done.

Clearly, Franco was there to embody the 127-hour Oscars running time.

Franco, it’s hard for me to get past his previous role as Spiderman’s nemesis, the Green Goblin.

Hathaway, so poised beside Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada,” as herself is like a giggly teen-age girl.

I counted seven writers in the credits, so their jokes should have been funny.

Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock they’re not — especially with Anne in the tux and James donning a Marilyn Monroe dress and blonde wig.

Madonna already did that.

When eight-time host Billy Crystal strolled out, my first thought was that they had summoned the cavalry to the rescue. He looked marvelous.

“Where was I?” he joked and recalled 18-time host Bob Hope.

There were a couple of moments in this typically tedious tradition where many laugh lines mock the Hollywood arrogance for running long.

It’s not like ABC is going to yank all the movie stars offstage at 11. The alphabet net just re-upped until 2020.

Try 11:42 with a finale by P.S. 22 to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

They were in that field just outside “The Wizard of Oz’s” Emerald City (and hey, thanks, Academy, for the product placement on March 19-20’s Union High School spring musical!) where everyone falls asleep.

Don’t fret a wicked witch cast a spell, these kids were just up way past their bedtime.

And the clout continued.

President Obama popped up in a cameo touting “As Time Goes By” for greatest movie song ever.

We got a snatch of a powerful summer popcorn flick, “Super 8,” from stalwarts Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams (“Lost”).

There was the political moment which slipped in and fell on deaf ears.

Oprah presented the documentary Oscar for “Inside Job” to Charles Ferguson, who commented on all the fraud, for which no one has gone to jail.

There was Kirk Douglas shuffling amuck.

There was Justin Timberlake impressing Mila Kunis with an app to fill the landscape with “Shrek.”

There was Helena Bonham Carter, who deserved some kind of special award for appearing in two Oscar-winning projects, “Alice in Wonderland” (art direction and costume design) and the night’s big winner, the four-for-12 Best Motion Picture “The King’s Speech,” a “triangle of man love” between Director Tom Hooper, Best Actor Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.

Rush picked the wrong year to do some of his best work in the same category as Supporting Actor Christian Bale.

Hooper’s material was brought to his attention by his Australian mom, so “listen to your mother.”

“I have a feeling my career has just peaked,” Firth quipped.

As for the queen’s speech, Russell Brand translated Helen Mirren.

Batman was a lock and made a point of not dropping an F bomb like “The Fighter” castmate and Supporting Actress Melissa Leo, who candidly admitted, “I’m shaking in my boots here.”

There was Adam Sorkin, prepared to outshout the orchestra after winning adapted screenplay for “The Social Network,” which also nabbed original soundtrack and film editing.

I haven’t heard it, but I was shocked to see half of the winning team with Atticus Ross was Trent Reznor, late of Nine-Inch Nails, which always sounded to me like power tools.

How odd to see him in a tux.

But this isn’t the Grammys and they could shave a good hour off this marathon by not performing all the songs.

I mean, do we really need Randy Newman, winning his second in 20 trips without ever topping “Short People” banging out “We Belong Together” in his best Will Sasso on Mad TV imitation? He squandered what sliver of time he did have agonizing over being “good television.”

In one of those hipper-than-thou touches, the Academy made musicals of everything in reach, from hip-hop Harry Potter to Twilight, which is a favorite of new Miss Dowagiac Gabby Dorman.

She said she would miss the show because she had to study medical terminology for a college class.

I think she would appreciate “He Doesn’t Own a Shirt.”

At least a lot more than I did.

Lose the singing, especially Celine Dion during the dirge for the dearly departed.

Her voice triggered ominous lightning flashes outside my window.

Even more especially, passing off Gwyneth Paltrow as a country singer.

What, couldn’t they get Chris Gaines?

Music should be used sparingly, like Halle Berry. leading Lena Horne’s journey through “Stormy Weather.”

Horne famously said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.”

Then there would be time in the main room for Marisa Tomei and the nerdy tech awards with insight into incredible special effects.

It was a nice touch to have Cate Blanchett, a woman who portrayed Bob Dylan, present the make-up Oscar for “The Wolfman.”

Kevin Spacey introduced himself as George Clooney.

Where was George?

And Brad Pitt and his wife and the rest who keep the tabloid industry humming?

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law seemed to relish trashing their sexy movie star images.

Lesser awards make for better television from the standpoint grateful recipients have given their moment on the global stage a lot of thought and don’t appear to resent racing the music to make a boyhood ambition come true.

Speaking of ignoring the baton, where was Julia Roberts?

Did Pretty Woman Erin Brockovich miss seeing Denmark capture its third foreign language trophy for “In a Better World?”

Newman could probably write a song about it.

John Eby is Dowagiac Daily News managing editor. E-mail him at

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