Oscar Fallout 2013
What the hell just happened?
By: Lawrence Napoli
What can I say? Oscar night is a magical night. It’s my Super Bowl night and I was really anticipating the results of this evening because the films up for contention were much more interesting from top to bottom than last year. I was also intrigued to see how Seth MacFarlane would host such a gala event and his selection makes a lot of sense, right? He’s been celebrated for being the ring master behind Family Guy that has delivered countless laughs that poke fun at anything and everything, but particularly, the “ridiculousness” of American pop culture. In a way, his selection is quite ironic because The Academy Awards represent a hallmark in Americana that he wouldn’t mind completely ripping into for its elitism, shallowness, and plasticized prima facie. However, this stage represents an opportunity for his irreverent comedy to keep this show fresh and significant to the movie patrons of the future. Considering the extra attention this evening is receiving for the political films that are the frontrunners this evening, I fully expect a Brian Griffin moment from Seth where he makes an observation that is neither too hilarious, nor too poignant and everyone pauses for consideration. That being said, Seth will either soar with the eagles or crash and burn and melt and leave a really bad smell afterwards. How did it turn out? Read on Cosmic Book News faithful, read on.
[Red carpet observation: What was the deal with all the white girls getting the memo regarding the requirement to show up with equally white dresses? Noteworthy exceptions to this were Jennifer Anniston, Catherine Zeta Jones and Nicole Kidman.]
I really appreciated Seth’s rip on The Artist right off the bat. It also didn’t take long for Seth to get a few “ooo” moments for the jokes he made: Chris Brown/Rhianna. And then Captain Kirk appears? Ok so, it led into Seth’s first musical number (pre-recorded, but pretty funny about all the women we saw the b–bs of), but the little dance number between Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron was unexpected, but completely adorable. Then Daniel Radcliffe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth perform a short rendition of “High Hopes.” Obviously Harry Potter has Broadway skills, but who knew Robin could sing, too? This led to a skit of MacFarlane hitting on Sally Field in a “Flying Nun” costume. Meh.
Octavia Spencer presents Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained
Big surprise #1. I really was not expecting this and I’m pretty sure no one else did either, but I guess someone has to continue feeding the Taratino machine that sweet sustenance of credibility. Shame on me, I didn’t see Django Unchained yet, but I’ve heard nothing but mixed reviews concerning it. That’s not a knock on Christoph Waltz who is deserving of such recognition based on the excellence he displayed in Inglorious Basterds. Still, this may be a sign to come that Lincoln the pre-show favorite to win it all, might be snubbed all together.
Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy present Best Animated Short Film – Paperman (John Kahrs).
What is it with comedians being earmarked for animated presentations? What is it with them totally flubbing what they have to say in the process? Rudd and McCarthy should have just played it straight because Paperman was one of the best animated shorts I’ve ever seen because it was quite touching in its simplicity and inspiring in its fantasy.
Best Animated Feature Film – Brave
What a surprise. Disney Pixar takes the category made for Disney Pixar films. Yawn. Moving on.
The Avengers Assemble! And they present Best Cinematography – Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
Please do take a box office bow, gentlemen. But where are the mighty Thor and the seductive Black Widow? Excellent live chemistry was displayed by the group in attendance led by Tony Stark himself. I just wished they could have been given more time to do their thing. Guess I’ll just have to wait for The Avengers 2. Good for Life of Pi, but the cinematography had better look great when the whole film is practically CGI.
They also present Best Visual Effects – Life of Pi (Bill Westenhofer and co.)
I’m sure glad they brought The Avengers on the stage to be completely ignored by The Academy. I get the distinct impression that something very weird is happening and that weirdness could be Life of Pi winning a heck of a lot more than it was projected. Cue the orchestra for its first awkward play-off for a long running acceptance speech. The Jaws theme completely drowned out Westenhofer just in time for the camera to cut to Nicole Kidman who frowned in disapproval for the classless move. Still, everyone should have a go to “wrap up” comment to avoid being cut off.
Jennifer Aniston and Channing Tatum present Best Costume Design – Anna Karenina (Jacqueline Durran)
Jen welcomes Chan to the waxed actors club. Didn’t really need to know that one, but I’m glad a period piece won this award because they’re made to do exactly that.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Les Misérables (Lisa Westcot and Julie Dartnell)
Production value was big, big, business for Les Miz. Costumes in that film were very well done and I expect Oscar gold in production design for this film as well.
Halle Berry presents the 50th Anniversary of James Bond
A nice little video montage of Bond’s greatest moments on film was nice, but nothing a freshman in college couldn’t compile on Final Cut Pro. But then Shirley Bassey comes out of the floor to sing the Goldfinger theme quite masterfully; so much so that her rendition surpasses the original in every, single way. You go girl! Standing O: deserved! Hopefully we get more of this with Adele waiting in the wings to do the Skyfall theme.
Kerry Washington and Jaime Fox present Best Live Action Short Film – Curfew (Shawn Christensen).
I understand the need to thank The Academy for supporting the more obscure categories such as this, but it would be better if The Academy showed some real love to this category by making some comprehensive programs for those interested to actually see these little nuggets of gold.
Best Documentary Short – Inocente (Sean and Andrea Fine).
So, the subject of this documentary was homeless last week and so shame on Hollywood for not getting artists like her seen and heard? How about shame on humanity for allowing atrocity like hunger and homelessness to exist anywhere! Look, I’m happy they won, but let’s have some solutions before pointing fingers.
Ben Affleck thanks Seth for the constant ribbing and presents Best Documentary Feature – Searching for Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chin).
I’m glad that the one documentary that didn’t cover absolutely depressing material won, but I really hate the Jaws theme being used (AGAIN) to play people off their speeches. It’s starting to get annoying.
[Best MacFarlane joke of the night so far: “The cast of Prometheus tells us, what the hell was going on there?”]
Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain present Best Foreign Language Film – Amour (Austria).
Yay Austria, but then Seth MacFarlane thanks the orchestra and there’s a moment where everyone thought he was joking about it as they played behind his presentation. One word: awkward.
Catherine Zeta Jones performs All That Jazz
If her singing was, in fact, live singing, then color me impressed. If she was just lip syncing it, oh well, everyone’s doing it and I’m less impressed. Still, she had to record it at some point.
Jennifer Hudson sings a number from Dream Girls
This number certainly sounded live because we could all hear her breaths as she swung the mic dramatically away from her mouth. Jennifer’s a professional singer and she won an Academy Award for acting as a singer in this movie, so it better be live because it certainly kicked all sorts of ass.
The cast of Les Misérables performs together.
I really enjoyed the staging of this musical number which incorporated everyone’s entrance (and I mean EVERYONE) as they rallied around One Day More. Yeah, yeah, Russell Crowe still did his thing, but they sounded great as a collective. Screw you Adam Lambert. If you thought they were so terrible, get all your friends together and make your own musical adaptation.
Mark Walhberg and Ted present Best Sound Mixing – Les Misérables (Andy Nelson and co.).
I guess Ted had to do all the comic heavy lifting because Marky Mark was having none of it. It makes all the sense in the world that a film requiring the balance between sound, dialogue, sound effects and background music would win this award. No other film had such a heavy sound mixing burden.
Best Sound Editing – WTF? (No BS, but a tie?) Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall.
I can’t remember a tie for an Oscar in recent memory and it only ever happened twice before: once in 1932 for the best actor and a second time in 1968 for best actress. And now it’s a third . . . for best sound editing?
Christopher Plummer presents Best Supporting Actress – Anne Hathaway
Sitting next to her Les Miz costar, Hugh Jackman, Anne makes a nice gesture acknowledging every other nominee as well as the Wolverine himself. She got so much hype for winning this award, but it was hype well deserved because it was an amazing performance.
Sandra Bullock presents Best Film Editing – Argo (William Goldenberg)
It took a while for Argo to make any kind of splash but here it is. And speaking of firsts, people winning their first awards seems to be the theme of the evening. This doesn’t look good for the likes of Daniel Day Lewis.
Adele performs Skyfall
So we all know this song will win the Oscar later on in the evening right? I’d just like to make note of the fact that Adele sings so well in that voice when she’s as British as the day is long. Regardless, it was another inspired performance by a “true” singer which is actually better than the recorded version for the film.
Daniel Radcliffe and Kristen Stewart present Best Production Design – Lincoln (Rick Carter and Jim Erikson).
Another Oscar frontrunner picks up its first award and although this film did not involve any fantastic settings or highly stylize set pieces, the effectiveness of the production design was no less impactful. By the way, if Stewart injured herself some way, why is she determined to hobble around like the walking dead (pun intended)? Her constant grimacing was kind of annoying, so let’s get her some assistance and I don’t just mean from the Actor’s Studio.
George Clooney presents In Memoriam
The obvious somber moment of the evening plays out like normal, but then opens up to Barbara Streisand singing Memories as only she can. All that can be said is that she gave us all a beautiful and heartfelt performance. Streisand is the epitome of dignity and class.
Some of the cast of Chicago present Best Musical Score – Life of Pi (Mychael Danna).
Chalk up another for the Ang Lee’s production, but it is unfortunate that no one on his cast or crew can pronounce his name correctly. Pi is seems unstoppable at this point.
Best Original Song – Adele’s Skyfall
Good for Adele, but once again, no surprise here. Anyone else signing this song, however, doesn’t bring the attention required to take home the victory.
Charlize Theron and Dustin Hoffman present Best Adapted Screenplay – Argo (Chris Terrio).
Argo’s writer makes the first political statement of the evening giving a nod to nonviolent means of solving international problems. Perhaps that message will get across to the US government, but it is not this day.
Best Original Screenplay – Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino).
Nice leather tie Q. It was an interesting move to thank the power of his characters for his writing. Although I will say that this year’s films were certainly better overall than last year’s, but I’m not necessarily thinking that this year was, in fact, the year for the writers. Battleship and John Carter still happened this past year. What about them?
Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda present Best Director – Ang Lee (Life of Pi).
Yes! More redemption for the terrible Hulk. With so many awards going Pi’s way, this really wasn’t a surprise. Thanking Taiwan is interesting in that it’s dangerously close to thanking our good buddies in China who are having a blast hacking our databases for industrial espionage, crushing our economy with slave labor and probably prepping for WW III. How much money do you think Lee’s production paid his two crews in India and Taiwan?
Jean Dujardin presents Best Actress – Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook).
Holy *ucking sh*t! Don’t get me wrong, I love Jennifer, but wow. She had the hype, she had The Hunger Games and she has the whole of Hollywood eating out of the palm of her hand. She is talented, she is capable, but she better not screw up the good fortune she’s found early on in her career. Many actors have long careers with zero recognition and honorary Oscars do not count. Christopher Plummer taught me that. Good for you Jennifer, but you still have two more Hunger Games to muddle through.
Meryl Streep presents Best Actor – Daniel Day Lewis.
About damn time! The most deserving winner for the most perfect category: this man became Abraham Lincoln. No one else can claim this level of immersion. Daniel offered up the best acceptance speech of the evening with a good dose of comedy. Cheers Daniel! Keep making and taking incredible roles.
Jack Nicholson presents Michele Obama who both present Best Picture – Argo (Ben Affleck and co.).
Ben’s co-producers took a specific time out to thank and re-thank Ben Affleck for his directing contributions to the film as a final “stick it” to The Academy. Argo is deserving of this victory because of the story. Please refer to my review concerning the historical accuracy of the actual event, but I don’t care if it was or wasn’t. I want to be entertained and if the story is compelling enough, I will do research to find the “real” real story.
Let’s make this quick. Seth did not sink or swim. He did not exactly impress, but he did a respectable job. All of his jokes simply took jabs at anyone in attendance and I was expecting some evolution of that strategy during the show. It wasn’t terrible, but it got boring at times. He did not succumb to the temptation of breaking into Family Guy voices at all. That’s saying something, I guess.
The Big Loser
Zero Dark Thirty. This movie should have gone home with absolutely nothing because sharing a tie for best sound editing, of all categories, seems like a door prize. James Bond took home more Oscars than Kathryn Bigelow’s production this year.
The Big Winner
This was a little more difficult to arbitrarily designate, but it has to be Argo. Certainly Life of Pi won a lot and for a while, it looked like it could go all the way. But, the controversy of Argo as a production makes for a better story, right? If it were nominated for more categories, it probably would have taken home more gold. I’m just glad Affleck didn’t bust into his kegger acceptance speech from Good Will Hunting. He came close, but pulled it back.
The Wrap Up
There were some twists and turns, some surprises and “no duh’s,” but overall I think this was a successful Academy Awards. It’s still too long and there’s no way to address this issue without seriously thinking about cutting categories that get live presentations during the show or perhaps losing the musical performances. I’d prefer the former because the performances really do add quality entertainment value. At the same time, I really hate the orchestra playing people off with Jaws. How about adding an “enhanced experience” for people to follow at home on their computers, tablets or smart phones to experience some of the trimmed fat in future shows?
Did your favorites win? Does The Academy have a clue? Do you just want Jennifer Lawrence’s phone number? Hollywood can still make amazing films when it wants to, so hopefully we can see better films at the theatres and when that happens, I hope to see you at the movies.