I wasn’t especially pleased with last night’s 2010 Spirit Awards show, which I watched with a couple of friends at their Horatio Street studio. One thing after another needled, bothered, put me off, pissed me off, or resulted in “tsk-tsks.” It’s a long list but I’ll stick to the pop-throughs.
Host/emcee Eddie Izzard was a nervy provocateur, as expected, but he wasn’t funny. He was hyper and jabbery in a stream-of-consciousness way, but the reaction in the room was “why is Izzard the host of this thing again? Because he met Dawn Hudson at a party after they’d both sloshed some wine? In what way is Izzard’s schtick supposed to provide enjoyment for the viewing audience? This is all about endurance.” You know who was funny when he hosted the Spirits back in the mid ’90s? Kevin Pollak.
The pre-award-bestowing podium patter for the nominees, written by someone in the FIND/Spirit Awards organization (or by a freelancer), was drivel — awful. I have the same complaint every year.
And the endless thank yous by the winners, acknowledging not only their on-set colleagues and agents and managers, etc., but also their wives and parents and sisters and brothers, were pure agony. What semi-sincere person would actually contend that his or her brother or sister (whom he/she most likely hasn’t had any meaningful interaction with since their mid teens) had something to do with winning a Spirit Award?
Jeff Bridges sang a live country-and-western tune with T-Bone Burnett and a couple of jowly 50ish guys providing electrified backup, and guess what? Not only does Bridges have a weak country-nasally voice — it has no manly heft or diaphragm oomph — but he doesn’t seem to know how to sell a song within his vocal limits. Even a person with a shitty voice can sound half-okay if they can deploy the right kind of phrasings and lung power and whatnot.
Every so often a corporate sponsor’s logo would be seen on top of the coverage. We all understand the necessity of this from time to time, but it looked technically amateurish every time because the blending of the Spirit Award footage plus the logo overlay created a generally darkened image. It reminded me of video overlay effects that I used to see back in the ’80s. Embarassing.
This is the first year since the mid ’90s in which the Spirits weren’t held inside a big white tent in Santa Monica. They happened instead inside a big white tent on the top of a downtown plex called LA Live, which is adjacent to the Staples Center. And yet the director of the Spirit Awards inexplicably chose not to provide the audience with a basic panoramic establishing shot of the LA Live neighborhood at the very beginning (and maybe a return to this once or twice during the show) that would have explained what’s visually dramatic or exciting about being in downtown LA — i.e., how it all looks and feels.
Ryan Reynolds and Maggie Gyllenhaal presented an award while holding drinks in their hands. Part of the point of the Spirit Awards, which is supposed to be a much more informal affair than the Oscars, is to have a blast — I get that. But never hold a drink in your hands in front of a camera of any kind. It always make you look like a lush.