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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