Monday, February 25, 2013

The 85th Annual Oscar Show: The Films were Way Better than the Show

You know you're in for a long Oscar evening when the show starts off with a whimper.  But this one ended with a bang as Ben Affleck enthusiastically accepted his Best Film Oscar 15 years after winning for writing Good Will Hunting.  (I'm ignoring the closing musical number with Kristin Chenoweth.)

Seth MacFarlane may be a brilliant comedy writer and animator - and we found out he’s a surprisingly good song and dance man - but aside from a couple of good shots taken at George Clooney, Jodie Foster and Quentin Tarrantino, his hosting gig was a bust. 

The opening monologue, which morphed into a bit with William Shatner as Captain Kirk (that bombed), and then into song and dance, was too much of nothing.  (I did love the Daniel Radcliffe/Joseph Gordon Levitt number.)

The writing throughout the show - the jokes made by presenters and host - fell flat, which I owe to the producers.  They have a whole year to write good material; there’s no excuse for missing on this score.  They literally have time to hire and fire multiple teams of writers.  To make a joke out of John Wilkes Booth “getting into Lincoln’s head” was pretty dang low.  They even gave MacFarlane a five-minute plug for his movie, Ted, featuring Marc Wahlberg.

Question.  Of all the movie musicals ever produced, why highlight Chicago, Dreamgirls and Les Miserables because they’re the ones made in the last 10 years?  They should given Les Miserables center stage because that was truly a highlight of the whole evening.

Other highlights:
  • Barbra Streisand’s memorable tribute to Marvin Hamlisch.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis suggesting that he and Meryl Streep were supposed to have played each other's Oscar-winning roles, he as Margaret Thatcher and she as Lincoln.
  • Christopher Plumber entering to the orchestra playing The Sound of Music.
  • Anne Hathaway’s enthusiastic hug from Hugh Jackman - and her speech.
  • Adele singing Skyfall with the full orchestra accompaniment.

Low points:

  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Quentin Tarantino
As usual, there were some stunningly beautiful dresses, and a bunch that did not flatter the mostly beautiful women wearing them.


Jennifer Aniston (a traditional flowing, red dress), Anne Hathaway (pale pink with a classy front and revealing back), Octavia Spencer (gathered ivory chiffon tailored to her figure). Sandra Bullock (black sparkle, perfectly fitted).

Not so much:

Stacy Keibler, Halle Berry, Kristin Chenoweth, Salma Hyek, Catherine Zeta Jones, Renee Zellweger, Merrill Streep, Michelle Obama, all of whom had too much sparkle. 

The winners among the films and performances were not too surprising.  Best film was Argo.  Daniel Day-Lewis was the more than deserving winner in the Best Actor category.  Best Actress was Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook.  Best Supporting Actor went to Christoph Waltz of Django Unchained (he was amazingly scary in Inglourious Basterds) while Anne Hathaway was Best Supporting Actress for her short but haunting performance in Les Miz.  Ang Lee was Best Director, probably because Ben Affleck was shut out and the others (Steven Spielberg, David O. Russell and Tom Hooper) canceled each other out.

2012 was truly a great year for film - as shown by the record-breaking $10.8 billion spent at the box office - but not for Oscar night.  Personally, I’d rather have the former than the latter.  Maybe the show will be better next year.

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