No matter which of the above reactionary groups you fall into, the members of the Academy are beside themselves with happiness today. You might ask why. The simple answer is RATINGS! TV Ratings in the coveted 18-49 demo jumped up 19% over last year. However, since you and I are not in the TV ratings business, it’s more fun to discuss The Oscars from our perspective as viewers and movie lovers.
As previously stated in my Oscar Predictions, outside of a couple of “no brainers”, this was a particularly difficult year to predict. No single movie was positioned to “run the table” and in fact, nine different films were named winners in 18 different categories featuring wide releases. Life of Pi led the way with 4 Oscars; Argo and Les Miserables had three each; Lincoln, Django Unchained, and Skyfall had two apiece; and Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty and Anna Karenina each had one. Bruce, a loyal and informed blog follower from San Antonio, pointed out the rare result of a different film winning for each of the “Big 6” categories: Best Picture (Argo), Best Director (Life of Pi), Best Actor (Lincoln), Best Actress (Silver Linings Playbook), Supporting Actor (Django Unchained), Supporting Actress (Les Miserables). Given all of this, I feel quite satisfied with correctly predicting 19 of the 24 categories.
In addition to host Seth MacFarlane, also new to the Oscar presentation were show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. They were Executive Producers on Best Picture winner Chicago (2002). There was an awkward pre-show opening with Chicago star Queen Latifah, followed by a bizarre gag with William Shatner appearing from the future as Captain Kirk from Star Trek … evidently the purpose of which was to make advance apologies for a weak show that was just beginning. Later, an inordinate amount of stage time was allowed for a Chicago musical number by Catherine Zeta-Jones; and then Mark Wahlberg and the bear (voiced by MacFarlane) from MacFarlane’s summer hit Ted took to the stage. If all that wasn’t enough, the Chicago cast reunited to present two awards. While we are accustomed to excessive narcissism in Hollywood, but this was just too much “Hey, look at me!”
My favorite performance of the evening was when 76 year old Shirley Bassey brought the full house to their feet with her rendering of the great James Bond theme from Goldfinger. Her still powerful voice saved the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Bond franchise (after a weak montage), and later Adele delivered a soulful version of the Skyfall theme, the first Best Original Song winner from a Bond film.
Other good and not so good (I’ll leave it to you to categorize as you wish):
* Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) became the first 3 time Best Actor winner, and gave a very classy and gracious acceptance speech
* Barbra Streisand performed on the Oscar stage for the first time in 36 years
* Sally Field got her moment in the spotlight thanks to a strange segment paying tribute to her old TV show “The Flying Nun” (1967-70)
* Seth MacFarlane served up tasteless jokes on Chris Brown/Rhianna (neither a movie actor) and Abraham Lincoln (the President, not the movie).
* Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to actors and also proclaimed this the year of the writer
* Ang Lee showed again what a nice man he is, though he missed an opportunity to show support for Rhythm and Hues
* There was no shortage of Oscar winning men with hair longer than Alexander Gudunov in Die Hard (1988)
* Tommy Lee Jones smiled on camera less than 2 minutes into the ceremony
* The Sound Editing category produced just the 6th TIE in Oscar history
* Anne Hathaway purred “It came true” … the most contrived prepared line of the evening
* The producer of the Oscar winning Animated Short Film Paperman was ejected from the ceremony … for throwing paper airplanes (a key component in the film)
* Ben Affleck stated no matter how many times you get knocked down, what matters is getting back up … proof that millionaire movie stars think starring in a bad movie (Gigli) or two (Jersey Girl) or three (Daredevil) actually qualifies as getting knocked down.
* The first Oscars featuring sock monkeys in an integrated cockpit
* Nine year old Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) spoke for women everywhere when she admitted selecting her dress because “it was sparkly and fluffy” (she accessorized with a puppy purse!)
* Ann Rutherford starred in 60+ movies, including Gone with the Wind but didn’t warrant inclusion during the In Memoriam section
* Andy Griffith starred in one of Elia Kazan’s finest movies (A Face in the Crowd) but didn’t warrant inclusion during the In Memoriam section
* Harvey Weinstein flexed his enormous Hollywood power-player muscles and arranged for First Lady Michelle Obama to present the Best Picture Oscar from the White House … A perfect ending to a show that, at times, seemed to treat movies as an afterthought.
After The Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel ran a tribute/spoof of Life of Pi that featured singer Psy: