Why even bother watching the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night? It's a fair question. Pomp and circumstance aside, it seems increasingly likely Aaron Sorkin's acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay will be the highlight of the telecast. This is what happens when the hosts aren't funny, Colin Firth is a lock for Best Actor, and a psychological thriller about ballet is one of the more widely seen nominees. Also, the show will be long. They always are. With that in mind, there are still some unanswered questions in the days leading up to Sunday's show. Among them:
Will James Franco Sing?
When the Academy announced James Franco as co-host back in November, it seemed like an odd choice. Was it the stoner act, short fiction, or simulated self-amputation that won them over? None of the above, apparently. They just wanted him for his vocal chops. Whether he'll get to display them is another matter. E! reports the actor's "dreadful cover" of Cher's You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me--originally written for the film Burlesque--was nixed from the final telecast by producers. It now looks as if he'll be performing a Grease-inspired duet with co-host Anne Hathaway.
Will Banksy Show Up?
Imagine for a moment you are a radical British street artist. Your public persona (or non-persona) is built around never being seen. But you've also made a documentary, and that documentary is up for an Oscar. On the one hand, you hate the establishment, of which the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is most definitely part. On the other hand, you are human, and realize this might be your only chance to hobnob with Jack, Meryl, and whoever Robert Duvall's married to this year. What do you do? This is the dilemma facing Banksy, nominated for Exit Through The Giftshop, as he weighs whether to attend Sunday's ceremony. His initial offer to show up wearing a monkey mask was rejected, then (kind of) accepted by Academy president Tom Sherak. While acknowledging he'd like Banksy to "respect the night" by arriving monkey mask free, Sherak admitted to The Hollywood Reporter yesterday there was little he could do to stop it from happening. "I'm not gonna stand up to stop him," said Sherak. "Nobody is, that's not what we do."
Will Melissa Leo's Lobbying Pay Off?
Best Supporting Actress is one of the few competitive categories this year, mainly thanks to The Fighter's Melissa Leo's decision to run her own series of 'For Your Consideration' ads in the Hollywood trades. The breach in Oscar protocol is particularly startling considering co-star Amy Adams is up for the same award. The Frisky's Kate Torgovnick deemed the images depicting Leo in a sequined gown and floor length fur coat "cheesetastic." Nicole Sperling echoed that sentiment in the Los Angeles Times, calling the display "tacky" display and stating a Leo loss Sunday would be "blamed squarely on the ads."
Will The King's Speech Really Win Best Picture?
The King's Speech is a nice movie about a powerful man conquering a speech impediment and making a friend. This is not in dispute. But was it really the best movie of 2010? More to the point, does it really deserve to win an award previously given to Casablanca, The Deer Hunter, and The Godfather? Considering the film's wire-to-wire frontrunner status and the Academy's prior history (Rain Man, Tom Jones, and Out of Africa are also all Best Picture winners), it seems likely, unless any undecided voters are moved by this plea from Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells:
"Allow me to paraphrase words spoken to a military tribunal in Paths of Glory by Kirk Douglas's Colonel Dax: 'There are times when I'm ashamed to be a member of the industry-supported, Oscar-following community, and this is one such occasion. Ladies and gentlemen of the Academy, proclaiming to the world that you sincerely believe that The King's Speech is the Best Picture of 2010 reveals a mediocre sensibility. It will be seen in the eyes of history as a very pedestrian call, and will haunt each of you, due respect, to the day you die. I can't believe that the wisest and noblest impulse among movie lovers, which is the ability to recognize the difference between a very good and highly likable film vs. one of exceptional craft and dimension and incandescence, can be completely dead here. Therefore, I humbly beg you to come to your senses, forget about what you 'like' and think of the contempt and derision that may be your legacy for decades and centuries to come."