Monday, February 25, 2013



Last weekend I had a slew of posts related to the Academy Awards Oscars, the biggest night in Hollywood and for me, ever since I was a kid, one of the most anticipated nights of the entire year. This usually-February-sometimes-March ceremony is put on by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. It started back in 1929 with a couple hundred people gathered into the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and has grown to the world-wide event it is today with millions tuning in from home. Unfortunately, it's not the easiest thing to stream online if you're living in the United States. I obliviously thought I'd have no problem in this digitally connected age. And so last night I resorted to watching the awards over our iPad FaceTiming with my parent's iPad looking at their TV... (Looks like I'll finally have to get a TV hooked up in my home by next year - it's the only day of the year that I would need one). I shant bore you with my first world problems anymore. Let me just share a few thoughts about last night's proceedings and the Oscars in general. Yes, as of last week they officially changed the name from the Academy Awards to their better-known nickname, the Oscars.


Seth MacFarlane (creator of "Family Guy") had an opening bit that stretched on far too long. It was a commentary on previous Oscar hosts and specifically what people thought he'd do with the job. It had it's moments (tap dancing with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe!) but could have been significantly trimmed. It was funny, crude, cruel and sometimes served as a lovely laudation to the year in movies. I think humorous jabs should always be a part of award shows. It's important for people to be able to laugh at themselves during a night where they also celebrate themselves and others. It brings some humility and honesty to the merited pride. William Shatner (in a strange on-running gag about tomorrow's headlines) led MacFarlane from "worst Oscars host ever" to "best Oscars host ever." Ultimately, I'd say "not the worst." It's certainly better than when we think back a couple years to Anne Hathaway and, namely, James Franco. Shudder. MacFarlane looks like a classy guy and he was able to get the job done as much as he was able to have fun. And what a voice fit for the occasion, no?


I don't think a single person had a perfect crop of predictions for this year's awards. To me, that's a very good thing. Predictability makes for a dull affair. I suspected that this would be a year where they spread the love around and that turned out to be exactly the case. Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Actor and Actress, Best Director and Best Picture... all went to different films. I'm not about to do the research, but I wonder if that has ever happened before. There were some we saw coming a million miles away (Anne Hathaway and Daniel Day-Lewis), but many, self-included, were pleasantly shocked when Ang Lee won for directing "Life of Pi." I didn't think "Django Unchained" would be walking away with anything last night. It was my favorite of the Best Picture nominees and I was jazzed to see Christoph Waltz win Best Supporting Actor and Tarantino himself take the stage for Best Original Screenplay.


The speeches were for me the best part of the evening. From Tarantino honorably shining the light on all his actors before "Peace out!" to Daniel Day-Lewis being actually funny (he had a bit about being considered for Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady") and then concluding in his usual well-handled and thankful way. Hathaway won my heart over again and Ang Lee appeared youthfully bliss. 

Ben Affleck concluded the evening with a sincere and inspiring rambling that I will surely listen to again. He was not nominated as Best Director (what many felt was a snub), but he got the last word of the evening as one of the producers of "Argo." The fact that my other favorite part of the show were the clips from the Best Picture nominees set to their own music shows how easy it is to please a cinephile. The more you honor and highlight the films from that year the better.

Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy had a painfully unfunny skit (and the two were very funny in last year's "This is 40") before awarding the Animated films of the evening. Also, what was up with cast of "The Avengers" when presenting Cinematography and Visual Effects? Robert Downey Jr. is typically awkward on stage, but it seems Samuel L. Jackson was an unscripted thorn in his side.

Not a lot of terrible moments thankfully, but plenty was odd about last night's show. For some reason MacFarlane announced the night would have a musical theme? Maybe they should save that for a year with more than just the one ("Les Mis"). This resulted in some revival numbers from "Chicago" and "Goldfinger," as 50 years of the James Bond series was honored as well. 

Perhaps the strangest part of the evening came right near the end when Jack Nicholson and Michelle Obama (via the drop down screen, bringing the evening full circle lest we forget the Shatner) awarded "Argo" Best Picture. C'mon Academy, we know politics always play a part of the processes, but must you thrust into the limelight? The Obamas themselves are not part of the entertainment industry no matter how much one supports the other. The hand-off between Nicholson and the First Lady was so clumsy and we were able to see it was pre-recorded.


After a weekend of focusing all my thought and attention to the Oscars I think we all deserve a long break. Well, Trent and I will soon be hitting record to discuss last night's show, then after that, I swear. The show can always be better, last night's was definitely no exception. For me 2012 was a remarkable year in film and filmmaking and we did not see near enough of that at the Oscars. While based in the United States the Academy itself proclaims they are open to the world. In a perfect world we'd see that proven true. I get goosebumps imagining an Olympic-type awards ceremony where film artists around the globe are invited and honored. The Oscars has always been Hollywood's big night, not necessarily film's. You can't please everyone, but I will always watch the Oscars and appreciate each second that works well.


Josh Matern said...

A real world-wide award ceremony would be awesome. I unfortunately missed out on the award ceremony (I know, shoot me) due to prior church engagements, but it seems like some deserving movies got awards. Hope Nancy isn't too jealous of your Hatheway fixation! ;) JK :P

Here's hoping 2013 has even better films.

J.S. Lewis said...

Hulu has the entire ceremony now if you're interested. I would be very surprised if 2013 holds a candle to 2012, but I'm always hopeful. Many of my favorite films weren't even nominated...