85th Academy Awards article pic

Written by Paul Stathakis | February 25, 2013:

‘A big part of the magic was missing’

This was not one of the industry’s finest nights. The 85th Academy Awards seemed, from the red carpet pre-show to the ceremony itself, disorganized and lacked the enchantment of the Oscars despite a few moments of sheer magic.

Seth McFarlane proved he could stand in front of a camera and somewhat host a show as grand as the Oscars. In his tuxedo, well groomed and smirky, he looked as though he could play the part. But his opening monologue was all over the place, as if the host was torn between being crude or classy. If ever he’s to return as master of ceremony,  he’s going to need better writers and funnier jokes. What worked best for him was his dancing and singing (except for his “We Saw Your Boobs” number). Then came a failed and pointless Nazi skit and a cold joke about Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Boothe.“I would argue, however, that the actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth,” he said. The crowd was shocked with their “oh’s” echoing throughout the hall. “Really? 150 years later and it’s still too soon?”, asked McFarlane. For a figure as highly regarded in American culture and history as Abraham Lincoln, it probably was. Wish the cameras would’ve cut to Steven Spielberg’s reaction.

In terms of winners, there were not many surprises with exception Ang Lee taking home the award for Best Director for “The Life of Pi.” With Affleck inexplicably snubbed by the Oscars (he wasn’t nominated in the one category he deserved to win), it looked like Spielberg was a sure bet to win. But instead, it was Lee’s name inside that envelope. No doubt the most unpredictable win of the night.

No surprises on the Best Actor and Best Actress fronts with Daniel Day-Lewis winning for “Lincoln” and Jennifer Lawrence for “The Silver Linings Playbook.” Lawrence tripped on the stairs as she was making her way to the stage but luckily she was not hurt. At least, not physically. When she took the stage, the crowd gave her a standing ovation. “Thank you. You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing but thank you,” said the charming actress.

Best Supporting Actress went to Anne Hathaway for her emotional turn in Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables” while Christoph Waltz earned a statuette for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti-western inspired “Django Unchained.” Waltz’s win came as a surprise as many assumed Tommy Lee Jones would be the winner in that category. Waltz delivered a classy speech which began with him saluting his fellow nominees: “Thank you so much, Mr. De Niro, Mr. Arkin, Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Jones, my respect.” He then concluded by acknowledging Tarantino while borrowing a few lines from his character. “You scale the mountain because you’re not afraid of it. You slay the dragon because you’re not afraid of it and you cross through fire because it’s worth it,” said the Viennese actor.

Tarantino also had his chance to celebrate the success of his film by winning for Best Original Screenplay for “Django Unchained.” This was his second Oscar win. He previously won the same award for “Pulp Fiction” in 1995.

Best Picture went to “Argo” and rightfully so. Ben Affleck’s speech was easily the most sincere of the night. In many ways, part of it was about him. He seemed to be alluding to a period in his life as an actor where things were rocky. “You have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can’t hold grudges. It’s hard, but you can’t hold grudges. And it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life; that’s going to happen. All that matters is you’ve got to get up,” said the actor and director. He thanked his wife and saluted his children while holding back his tears all the way through the speech. He even gave a shout out to Canada which was fitting since the country has its place in “Argo.” Anyone could tell just how proud he was of himself, his family, and his film. A well-deserved win.

In terms of magic, the night included two standout musical performances. The first was by the great Shirley Bassey who sang “Goldfinger” to salute 50 years of James Bond. It’s no surprise that she got a standing ovation following her performance which was every bit as good as her original one. However, those expecting to see all six James Bonds reunited on stage were surely disappointed as it didn’t happen. Word is one or two of the 007 actors weren’t interested in making such an appearance. At least the Academy had plans to do it but I still feel more could’ve and should’ve been done for such an enduring and beloved franchise celebrating its 50 years.

The second musical performer who stood out was Barbara Streisand She took the stage following the “In Memoriam” segment of the show. She sang her classic song “Memories” as part of a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, who composed “The Way We Were.” Quite classy.

Another notable musical moment included Jennifer Hudson belting out high notes to pay tribute to the film “Dreamgirls”, which she starred in and which earned her a Best Supporting Actress award in 2006.

It was also impossible to not be happy with appearances by Jack Nicholson and First Lady Michelle Obama who presented the award for”Best Picture.”

In hindsight, the night was only bearable because of these few magical moments. The rest of the show felt empty and for the first time in a long time, it felt overly long. One last word about host Seth McFarlane.  He may have given it his all but his funniest joke came when he introduced or rather didn’t introduce Meryl Streep. He said, “Our next presenter needs no introduction,” before walking off the stage. It drew laughter and it’s the kind of joke that a host like Billy Crystal would likely say. But to have one good joke and a few nice dance numbers during a four-hour ceremony is definitely not enough – not when you consider how high the bar has been set by some of the most successful hosts and Oscar telecasts.


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