2013: An Oscar Commentary

It’s time for a post-mortem, which is the appropriate term after Seth MacFarlane beat the show to death. MacFarlane is a versatile and talented performer, but he is also juvenile and self-promoting. All of those qualities were very much in evidence throughout his time on-stage, and it wasn’t exactly enjoyable waiting to hear his next tasteless joke or spot the next shameless plug for his own stuff.

Using the “Jaws” theme to cut off speeches was spectacularly unfunny, and went unused against the most egregious offenders late in the show . . . Are the “little people” experiencing their 5 minutes getting short-shrift just so we’ll have time to listen to Anne Hathaway gush tiresomely?

Meanwhile, the Oscars continue to grasp desperately and embarrassingly for relevance with a younger, hipper audience, trotting out lame gimmicks and youthful presenters by the bushel. Even more experienced talent fell flat, though. Rudd and McCarthy sounded like they planned their banter backstage in the 5 seconds before they walked out, having never met each other before. At least the musical elements of the show worked well.

That leaves me with the actual outcome. The night’s biggest winner was Life of Pi, with 4 awards, which I’m very happy about. I’m less happy that Moonrise Kingdom lost its only nomination, while Les Miserables (far and away the worst of the Best Picture nominees) won 3 and Beasts of the Southern Wild was the only Best Pic that got shut out entirely. Argo got 3 awards (including, of course, The Big One), Lincoln and Django Unchained each got 2, and Amour, Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook got 1 apiece. Other than that, only Skyfall (with 2), Brave, and Anna Karenina (with 1) walked away with Oscar gold.

I’d have redistributed all of Les Miserables‘s Oscars and probably given animation to Wreck-It Ralph, but I’m fairly happy with everything else. I’m certainly no less happy with the winners than I was with the nominees, and maybe slightly more. Could have been worse, and sometimes that’s the best that can be said. I feel a “Best of 2012” list coming on . . .

Okay, so I’ve gotten a late start on the live-blogging for uninteresting reasons, but that turns out to be a good thing. Dunno where I’d have started talking about MacFarlane joking, singing, and dancing his little heart out. Jokes. Thick and fast. And I’ve laughed more than once, and groaned more than laughed. Anyway, awards are starting!

Best Supporting Actor:Octavia Spencer gives the award to Christoph Waltz! Tarantino has been good to Waltz, lifting him out of obscurity and planting double Oscars on him in only a handful of years. I thought this award might go to Tommy Lee Jones, but I’m very happy to see Waltz get it. I loved his performance in Django Unchained. He stole the movie.

The less said about Melissa McCarthy and Paul Rudd’s presentation of the Best Animated Short award, the better, but hooray for “Paperman” . . . Not my pick, but a fine little piece.

Best Animated Film: The award goes to Brave, the first time I’ve been a little sorry to see Pixar win something. I was really pulling for Wreck-It Ralph.

Best Cinematography: In a pretty obvious (and pretty lame) grab at relevance, a bunch of the Avengers are presenting cinematography. Happily, it lands where it should, on Life of Pi. That was my pick and my hope, as this was by far the best-looking film of the year, and incredibly innovative use of 3D. And the cinematographer is so overcome that he can’t even talk.

Best Visual Effects: And the Avengers are presenting this one, too. And making lame jokes. But I don’t mind, because Life of Pi wins again! Joy! Also, apparently Oscar is a real dick this year, because that “playing them off” music was incredibly tacky (Jaws theme? I’m sure that sounds like a great gag on paper, but no), and what a terrible moment to cut his mic. Even the audience was bummed that he didn’t get to finish, and then there’s MacFarlane grinning like a idiot and slapping his hands together. Gah.

Best Costumes: Channing Tatum and Jennifer Aniston present this award to Anna Karenina, which is not an undeserving pick, certainly. I liked the costumes in Mirror Mirror best, though. Ah, well.

Best Makeup: This award goes to Les Miserables, even though it is clearly the only award that should have gone to The Hobbit. I don’t recall anything remotely special about the makeup work in Les Mis, and the “old Valjean” bit was actually pretty bad, I thought. Oh, well.

Bond girl Halle Berry is introducing the Bond tribute, which is cool, even though it’s a bit odd, as the Academy has never cared much for Bond. Oh, wow . . . Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger” live is way cooler than any video montage. That was a nice breather. I feel like I’m having a really hard time getting out in front of this show. Everything seems rushed. But I know that’s not really true. The show has been on for an hour already, and they’ve given out less than a third of the awards. I think I get this feeling every year, and I just forget during the months in-between.

Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington are announcing the Best Live-Action Short and Best Documentary Short awards, which, sadly, I haven’t seen. Maybe I can at least see the winners. “Curfew” for live-action short, I’d also really like to see “Death of a Shadow.” “Inocente” wins documentary short, which I’d also really like to see. Great acceptance speech for this one!

It’s like the show heard my complaint, since they haven’t given a feature award in like 20 minutes. This is our second round of Best Picture nominee montages, which are being presented, 3 at a time, leading up to the big moment at the end of the show.

Best Documentary Feature: Ben Affleck presents the award, and it goes to Searching for Sugar Man, which I am dying to see. They should have had Affleck give the award for Best Director, if they were going to face-slap him and ask him to present at all. Just saying.

Best Foreign Film: Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain are presenting this award, and it goes, obviously, to Amour, which I finally saw, and very much liked. Michael Haneke is an amazing filmmaker, and any recognition he gets is richly deserved.

John Travolta is introducing a tribute to musicals, which I feel like is something we see every few years at the Oscars as they herald a “comeback” of the genre. Musicals have never really gone away, but they haven’t really come back, either. But, hey, whatever excuse gets Catherine Zeta-Jones to do a live performance of “All That Jazz” is okay by me. I’m excited to see where else this tribute goes, with a lead-off like that. And it goes to a Dreamgirls solo by Jennifer Hudson, in case we needed a reminder that she hasn’t done anything since she won an Oscar. And then a really great Les Miserables number with a large chunk of the cast, highlighting exactly why the musical works better on the stage than it did as a film.

Best Sound Mixing: Inevitably, Seth MacFarlane got his CG creation, Ted, a presentation gig alongside Mark Wahlberg. Definitely a step down from the Muppets. I wonder what the audience is seeing? Anyway, the award goes to Les Miserables for some reason. Yes, I know, I know . . . The singing. I don’t care. Blech.

Best Sound Editing: So, this turned out to be the third tie in Academy history. The last one was in 1968. The award goes to both Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall. They both had great sound. I wanted to see more awards piled on Life of Pi, but I’m sure sound people are capable of making this decision without my input.

Best Supporting Actress: A great Sound of Music gag, but hardly a great way to bring in an actor of Christopher Plummer’s caliber. He seems nonplussed, as would anyone who has had the career he’s had reduced to a joke about a film he was in nearly half a century ago. He gives the award, as expected, to Anne Hathaway. This has been a presumptive lock for long enough that surely no one is surprised, but I think it could as easily have gone to Amy Adams or Sally Field, and probably should have. Oh, well.

Best Editor: Sandra Bullock is out to present this award. It goes to Argo, the presumptive winner for Best Picture, and its first award so far. Slow start, but probably a big finish to come.

Adele is singing “Skyfall!” Hooray!

Best Production Design: Kristen Stewart and Daniel Radcliffe just gave this award to Lincoln, apparently, even though Life of Pi was the best-looking film of the year. I was called away unexpectedly and missed it.

George Clooney introduces the “in memoriam” montage. And Barbara Streisand is singing. Okay, I’m sorry I said it was rushed. Let’s get this thing moving again.

Best Original Score: Cool to see the leads from Chicago together to present this, even if it is a really odd choice. The award goes to my pick: Life of Pi! Yay!

Best Original Song: Finally, they’re actually letting us hear the nominees again as part of the show. This show still needs to be cut down to size, but songs are not the place to make that cut. I feel like I’ve said that before . . . Kind of weird that the two of the songs that haven’t been performed already get recorded excerpts, but MacFarlane’s song is performed live. Anyway . . . The award goes to . . . Skyfall! Excellent. That makes me happy, too. Adele’s speech: Adorable where Hathaway was tiresome.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Dustin Hoffman and Charlize Theron present this award. I think Lincoln was the most impressive work of adaptation I saw this year, an incredible job drawing that story out of a mass of historical material. But the award goes to Argo, which is picking up steam now going into the end of the show.

Best Original Screenplay: Moonrise Kingdom won’t win this and the outrage will be complete . . . but I can hope. Until that hope is dashed. But if it had to be dashed, at least Quentin Tarantino was the one to dash it. He’s right, this was a great year for writing. Django Unchained was pretty far from his best work, but even his worst work pops and sizzles like few others’.

Best Director: Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda emerge to strains of “Nobody Does It Better” to announce this award. I kind of expected this to go to Steven Spielberg, but I’m thrilled to see it go to Ang Lee. I hope Spielberg will win again someday, when he’s really stretching as a director again, the way Lee did in Life of Pi.

Best Actress: Jean Dujardin announces this award, which I’d kind of like to see go to Jessica Chastain. Or Jennifer Lawrence. Or Emmanuelle Riva. Lots of great performances out there. Jennifer Lawrence gets it! I didn’t think she would, but honestly, I forgot she didn’t win for Winter’s Bone. So, this is cool. Even though she tripped on the stairs. Dresses . . . Yeesh.

Best Actor: Meryl Streep, who needs no introduction, presents. Presumably she’ll present to Daniel Day-Lewis. I liked Bradley Cooper and Joaquin Phoenix a lot in their respective roles, but there’s no question where this award should go. And it does! And Day-Lewis gives, not only the best speech of the night, but possibly the best Oscar speech I’ve ever heard.

    Best Picture

: Jack Nicholson, rocking an awesome bow-tie, came out to introduce the real presenter of the final award . . . Michelle Obama? Well, at least there was one surprise left in the show. I can’t imagine anyone was shocked that she declared Argo the winner.

~ by Jared on February 24, 2013.

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