The Oscars post-mortem: the good, the bad and the mediocre
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 23:02
Fifty-two weeks, hundreds of films and twenty-three categories later, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have inaugurated the eighty-fifth Best Picture, “Argo,” into the annals of history. Overlong, slightly disjointed and surprisingly enjoyable, the 85th Academy Awards have come and gone but showed a few glimpses into what Hollywood’s doing right and wrong in the modern age.
Seth MacFarlane, the television kingpin turned movie superstar, turned in an above-average hosting job, reviving the presentation from the past few years. His humor was directly in line with his hugely successful TV shows, crass and sarcastic. A “Django Unchained” joke that referenced Chris Brown and Rihanna’s famous relationship problems was an early gem, though he leaned too hard on sexist and religion-based humor, enough that the jokes became noticeably mean or forced.
“Argo” was the biggest success of the night, overcoming Ben Affleck’s snub for Best Director to take three Oscars including the big prize, Best Picture. The lack of a runaway success left “Life of Pi” as the overall winner with only four awards and allowed six of the nine Best Picture nominees to take home at least one statue. The philosophical tiger flick won a huge upset when Ang Lee’s “impossible” tale of survival and beauty beat Steven Spielberg’s supposed shoo-in “Lincoln,” perhaps because the latter’s old-guard style of filmmaking seemed too old-fashioned (it was more of a history lesson than entertainment, but it got two other awards).
Daniel Day-Lewis became The Best Actor with his third statue for his portrayal of Lincoln, his other awards for “There Will Be Blood” and “My Left Foot” give him the most ever for a single actor. It’s also the first time a Spielberg acting performance has won an Oscar. Jennifer Lawrence won a deserved Best Actress for “Silver Linings Playbook,” solidifying her position as Hollywood’s hottest actress, and she won over any hearts she hadn’t yet when she tripped on her way up to the stage. With “Catching Fire” and an “X-Men” sequel coming in the surprisingly near future, she’ll remain red hot for years. Anne Hathaway’s performance in “Les Mis” winning Best Supporting Actress was destined from the moment she accepted the role; the more interesting story is with the Actor, Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained.” Two Tarantino movies, two Oscars, two of the finest German characters ever put to film. And he won this one over four other former winners.
Tarantino got his statue for the Original Screenplay of “Django,” a slight upset that makes me feel really smug about having a copy of the script for more than a year, while “Argo” took home Adapted Screenplay, probably the first time the award’s gone to an adaptation of an article from Wired Magazine. There was a rare tie in Sound Editing, which went to both “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Argo,” preventing the Osama Bin Laden revenge story from going home empty-handed; it’s been about twenty years since a category has tied, and it’s only happened six times in total, making the confusion on stage seem like a perfectly normal reaction.
The billion-dollar Bond flick “Skyfall” and the super-spy’s film history were given a lavish celebration. Relating to the show’s theme of film’s greatest musical hits (“Chicago,” “Dreamgirls” and “The Sound of Music” were among the musicals referenced during the show), Shirley Bassey and Adele’s respective performances of “Goldfinger” and “Skyfall” were perfect representations of the mood, allure and power that music can add to film, though they weren’t too dedicated to the theme. But there was no way Adele wasn’t getting an Oscar for the song. She’ll EGOT before we know it.
The rest of the night was fairly uninteresting. Some fun stuff happened on stage: presenters looked great and not-so-great, some gimmicks and montages filled time, and the show ended just before midnight – as expected. An appearance from McFarlane’s character Ted was a well-animated surprise, and while the humor was sometimes flat, it was fun to watch. That’s a good way to sum up this year’s Oscars: a competent celebration of a great year in film.