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Miller: Not much to be disappointed about on Oscar Sunday

March 03, 2014|By Michael Miller
  • Ellen DeGeneres gathers members from the audience for a selfie, from backstage at the 86th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood.
Ellen DeGeneres gathers members from the audience for… (Al Seib / Los Angeles…)

Twenty years ago, film critic Danny Peary released a wonderful book called "Alternate Oscars," which compared his own choices for Best Picture, Actor and Actress to the Academy's for every year from 1928 to 1991. Not surprisingly, he agreed with Best Picture only five times and the other two categories not much more often.

The Oscars wouldn't be nearly so much fun if they got it right — in my opinion, or yours, or your neighbor's — the majority of the time. Part of the reason we implant ourselves on the couch once a year is to supply our own commentary and bristle at the Academy's choices. "Crash" for Best Picture? "Django Unchained" for Best Original Screenplay? And so on.

I can't think of any strong intellectual defense for being an Oscar buff — but then, as "Django" auteur Quentin Tarantino once said about the violence in his films, "I don't have to defend it. I love it!" We're all entitled to our guilty pleasures.

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That said, one partial disappointment of Sunday night's Oscars was that I didn't have much to be disappointed about. True, I didn't love "Her," which won Best Original Screenplay, as much as some people did, but all the other choices were met with a ready nod.

"12 Years a Slave" for Best Picture? For sure. Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor? Perfect. "Gravity" sweeping almost every technical award? Well, of course.

Still, regardless of who takes home the gold, the show is never without ups and downs. In no particular order, here were my thoughts on the telecast:

The host: Ellen DeGeneres, we love you. You were warm, witty, homespun and a perfect combination of reverent and biting. The pizzas, the selfies, the affectionate picking on Jennifer Lawrence — no major complaints here. Come back in 2015.

Death to montages: Every year, just about, people complain about the length of the show. As a first step to solving that problem, please retire the clip montages. No matter what their purported theme is, they always amount to the same thing: a series of snippets from a lot of different movies, patched together and set to maudlin music. When Jon Stewart viciously parodied montages in his 2008 hosting gig, I thought the Academy had learned its lesson. No such luck.

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