So the Oscars are over and let’s see where we stand.
- Was is a good night?
- A good show?
- Deserving Winners?
Hosted by Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy – and apologies for twittering his name incorrectly) the hosting of the show has received some serious flack for being sexist, stupid and many other adjectives. Personally I had zero problems with it and found myself laughing quite a lot. Maybe because I am a big fan of Family Guy – so there you have it! My infantile mind loves McFarlane.
No, but seriously. MacFarlane’s hosting pretty much was the same as an episode of Family Guy: a lot of random jokes, some hit the mark, some didn’t, but when they hit they were poignant and had a certain edge to them that was really missing from last year’s Billy Crystal whose jokes were really the tamest jokes imaginable.
Plus the Trekkie in me couldn’t help but smile at James T. Kirk (William Shatner) traveling back through time to save the Oscars. Overall MacFarlane provided the needed fresh air in an overly serious show. I had much more problems with the constant musical numbers (yeah it was the theme of the evening but I don’t really know why other than because Les Misérables was nominated) which were mostly unimpressive. The only musical standout was Adele performing Skyfall and that wasn’t part of the musical-themed parts.
But overall the show was much livelier than last year’s funeral service (movies… movies… movies… MOVIES!) and the host was way ahead of James Franco and Anne Hathaway in 2010 (or 2011 if you talk about the airing date of the show). And maybe the fact that I was rooting for some movies added to the fun instead of watching Hugo and The Artist take all the gold.
But the best part about the ceremony was undoubtedly Michael Haneke’s fake Twitter account:
Which should have been broadcast at the bottom of the screen for the entire ceremony but I think if MacFarlane already offends Oscar viewers then this account would probably shock them to death.
Interestingly I got most of the crazy and unpredictable categories right (minus Riva) but lost some points when it came to technical awards:
Argo (and Argo fuck yourselves)
Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay
Well deserved and a very well done speech by Ben Affleck. Watched the movie in the cinema before the ceremony and it still holds up. Especially the Editing is pitch perfect (helped by the screenplay of course). It is an incredible shame that Ben Afflack was not nominated for best director but he will in due time. It is not as if Argo was the first great movie he has made.
The only bummer was Michelle Obama’s speech before Argo won the award. It was such a super-important speech it made Lincoln look like fluffy entertainment.
Life of Pi (and the underappreciated Art)
Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Special Effects
While the spirital overtones of the movie were a little heavy handed for myself the central story of Life of Pi is a breathtaking one and deserves all the recognition it got. Especially the choice for director is a good one. Seeing as Haneke never had that much of a chance for the gold I much prefer Lee over Spielberg and Russell (Zeitlin never had a chance… sadly).
Directing this movie with all the complex effects work and after last year’s omission of Rise of the Planet of the Apes it is good to see a movie rewarded for using special effects to realize a story many deemed impossible to adapt.
One thing I noticed (and with me many others) was the incredibly unfriendly cutting off that happened with a lot of speeches (mostly technical speeches). When the talk went on for too long the theme from Jaws would start playing which would get very unnerving and in my eyes deeply insulting.
It is very clear that with “important” awards the talks would go on much longer (and in Hathaway’s case be even more boring than the standard “thank you speeches”) than the technical awards and I think this is very insulting to all those craftsmen behind the scenes. Sure the sound designers don’t get interviewed what they are wearing for the red carpet or if they have brought their partners and what dress or tuxedo they are wearing – they are the guys in the background.
And when you can dedicate overlong stretches of your show to boring musical playback versions of Chicago or Barbra Streisand or Shirley Bassey singing a version of Goldfinger that sends shivers down your spine – then at least give an equal amount of time to the speeches. Sure they can be very boring but it is their night and they deserve the time to thank them.
Thanks to my friend Toni I came across a piece that is even more interesting about the current problems in the VFX industry and how the studio responsible for Life of Pi‘s gorgeous effects had to file for bankruptcy and let go of 250 employees.
It is really shocking and makes me even angrier that they cut of the speech at the moment the winners started to address this issue.
Les Misérables (and a lot of singing)
Best Supporting Actress, Best Make-Up, Best Sound Mixing
While it wasn’t the juggernaut it had been predicted before its release Les Misérables still won some gold. The two main categories it competed were Anne Hathaway for best supporting actress as well as the sound mixing category where the marketing never grew tired of reminding us that they had been singing live the whole time.
In the end the marketing worked and Les Misérables even took home Best Make-Up (more deserving: The Hobbit: An Unexpeted Journey, but that is just a fantasy flick and therefore not “important enough”). It didn’t win Best Production Design as predicted – that surprise was left for another movie.
Lincoln (and Daniel Day-Lewis in the Candystore)
Best Actor, Best Production Design.
Yes it was a boring category. Yes Daniel Day-Lewis won the Oscar again.
Is it anything less than absolutely deserved?
Daniel Day-Lewis is just a power house. An incredible method actor who puts even Christian Bale’s work to shame. And watching him receive the award was just like watching a boy in a candy store. Grinning he even cracked some “jokes” (which he probably rehearsed for a month to nail the right tone) and I didn’t expect him to give such a nice speech. Especially funny was that Meryl Streep read out his victory so both 3-times Oscar winners were on stage and it was probably so obvious I wondered if Meryl Streep even bothered to look into the envelope.
Also Lincoln winning Best Production Design was probably the most surprising (or second most) surprising win of the evening. I thought that it would go to Les Misérables or Anna Karenina with an outside upset by Life of Pi (due to many other wins) but I never thought of Lincoln as it was not as “in your face production design” as the two frontrunners were but because of that Lincoln at least got some recognition besides Day-Lewis. Still it was the “Dragon Tattoo winning Best Editing” of the year.
Django (and the 3 year delay)
Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay
Those two wins were the ones I guessed correctly but still hoped it wouldn’t come true. It makes Waltz one of the few actors to win two Oscars for one performance but at least the guy is just one of the nicest and humblest guys around contrary to Tarantino. Django Unchained took home the Oscar for a screenplay that had deserved Oscar recognition 3 years ago when it had been called Inglourious Basterds. That time I incorrectly guessed Bastards over The Hurt Locker. And this year the roles have been reversed with Zero Dark Thirty deserving so much more attention than it got. Coincidentally Tarantino also accepted the award for most self-aggrandizing speech thanking the actors for bringing his immortal characters to life and congratulating himself on casting his actors for his characters.
Amour (and the little love it got)
Best Foreign Language Film
Well… up until the last second I hoped for Emmanuelle Riva to win Best Actress and ignored all the evidence to the contrary, clinging onto her BAFTA win. Riva’s performance is a stunning one and it is so fantastic that you only see her character never the role. Which probably was the problem in selling her roles. When you watched all other Best Actress clips there was a lot of shouty-shouty-crazy-crazy-tough-tough talk whereas Riva’s scene could have been from a documentary.
Still Amour got the award for Best Foreign Language Film. I can’t say “well deserved” because I haven’t seen a single one of the five movies other than Amour. Still I can’t deny Amour‘s power and it probably is more than well deserved but this statement is more of an educated guess than an informed opinion.
Skyfall (and 007’s first Song Oscar)
Best Sound Editing, Best Original Song
If you stop to think about it the fact that no James Bond Song before Skyfall won for Best Original Song is a bit surprising. So what better way to celebrate 50 years of Bond (other than nominating Bond for Best Picture maybe) by honoring the song from a Bond movie many deem to be one of the franchise’s best.
Second the Sound Editing Oscar was a really nice surprise especially due to the fact that it was a tie with Zero Dark Thirty, quite a rare occasion.
Silver Linings Playbook
So the picture is probably just a lucky picture (and watching the video of Lawrence I didn’t even notice it) but it was a fun pic sent by my friend who wrote “that’s what Lawrence has to say to you for voting Riva”. Silver Linings Playbook snatched the Oscar away from Amour and it is always easier in retrospective. Otherwise Silver Linings Playbook wouldn’t have taken home a single trophy (then again this didn’t stop True Grit from losing the only safe Oscar to Inception in 2010/11).
Whether it was deserved or not one can’t argue with Lawrence’s charisma as she handles the press afterwards:
Zero Dark Thirty (and at least a bit of recognition)
Best Sound Editing
Personally I thought that only Jessica Chastain was worthy to take the Oscar away from Riva. Her performance has so many nuances and is defined by very tiny steps until we wind up with her at the final shot. A performance so great the short screamy-screamy-tough-woman-clip didn’t do her any justice.
The tie with Skyfall for Best Sound Editing was a cool surprise to give the movie a bit of recognition after it had been unfairly shut out of the Best Director’s race. Still we joked before the ceremony that Life of Pi would win Sound Editing or a “machinegun-movie” as movies with recorded firearm-sounds tend to win in this category and this year we had two of them.
Brave (and the hate that will come)
Best Animated Feature
I am a fan of Brave. I find it to be a touching and classic Disney tale full of gorgeously animated characters and landscapes. Yet I had hoped that it would go to Wreck-it Ralph just to honor a different animation house (still a Disney house but what doesn’t belong to Disney nowadays?). Brave is a sweet and well done movie that got some unfair flack in my opinion but I would have been happy to have Brave overcome the prejudice after some years. But now with the Best Animated Picture Oscar going to the Pixar title the inevitable backlash and the “it only won because it was a Pixar movie”-talk will taint the last bit of goodwill people had for the film.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (and just being happy to be there)
I still love the movie!
It was the lucky loser of the evenings as there never was a chance for Benh Zeitlin as Director or Quvenzhane Wallis to win. Still I never expected the movie to end up in any of the major categories (minus Best Picture).
A relatively enjoyable evening, some great moments and fitting for this crazy and unpredictable awards-season it was only fitting that the gold was spread equally. Aside from two wins which I wasn’t too happy the awards were really deserved and there was never really a “Hugo winning best cinematography and Visual Effects”-moment.
So better than my other predictions:
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