Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I spend most of my time watching the Academy Awards just waiting for something horrible to happen. Usually this means a bad musical number, horrible presenter jokes, bad sound, awkward acceptance speeches and/or a lackluster host. Impressively, none of those things reared their ugly heads.
Seth MacFarlane was a fantastic host for the evening, striking all the right chords by lightly roasting people in the room after a lengthy opening filled self-deprecating humor. Having William Shatner reprise his role as Captain Kirk to travel back in time to warn MacFarlane about his impending bad performance as host did seem a bit out of left field, but it was one of those bits that audiences either go with or reject completely. Overall, it seemed to work, but a more clever decision might have been to use an homage to Looper and have MacFarlane’s future self come back to warn him. Alas.
It’s doubtful that anyone will review MacFarlane as being anywhere near as bad as he joked he would be. He did everything a good host needs to do: Get everyone in a good mood, keep the mood going, and mostly get out of the way. He looked completely comfortable on stage, and his demeanor reminded strongly of Conan O’Brien. Even the jokes and bits throughout the night smacked of late night show humor, like the Von Trapp family gag, referencing the climax of The Sound of Music. Nevertheless, MacFarlane’s hosting abilities jelled well with the show, and I wouldn’t complain if he was invited back.
I was, however, disappointed in Adele’s performance of her Academy Award-winning song Skyfall. She sounded fine, but her stage presence left something to be desired. It was as if singing is so easy for her that even she’s bored with it. There was very little life in her performance, and she looked like she didn’t know what to do with her arms. It was surprising that Shirley Bassey outperformed Adele, even though Bassey stood alone on stage, without the aid of backup singers and musicians like those behind Adele.
It was also jarring to have Michelle Obama turn up out of the blue to help present Best Picture. Word of advice to politicians (and their spouses): It’s OK not to insert yourself into matters that aren’t related to running the country or state. If they start appearing on talent shows, like American Idol or The Voice then I think we, as a country, really need to evaluate what we’re hiring politicians to do.
Poor Jennifer Lawrence and that stumble on the steps. All of these months getting into impossible shape to fit these designer gowns, and they never bothered to practice climbing a short flight of stairs in their getups. Her acceptance speech for Best Actress was more prosaic than expected, and short to boot. I’m guessing that faux pas getting to the stage flustered her, and she forgot what she wanted to say and whom to thank. Or maybe she just never thought she’d win and didn’t bother preparing anything.
Say what you will about whether or not Anne Hathaway deserved to win Best Supporting Actress, but she definitely has grace and poise to spare, and I doubt I’ll ever tire of laying eyes on her. Also, she’s one of the few women who can pull off short hair so well. Throw Charlize Theron on that list too.
Overall, I was impressed by the evening. No catastrophes – though Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy’s presentation almost got there – and everyone looked good, especially Barbara Streisand. Whatever she spent to reclaim some of her youth paid off very nicely. But while the evening concluded with nary a hitch, I wonder if the show is even necessary anymore. Why not just announce all of the winners online all at once? Then the recipients can blast out their complete and uninterrupted acceptance speeches via social media. We can still have the glamour and spectacle of the Oscars by catching the celebs on their way to their respective post-Oscar parties. At the very least it would save us four hours of our lives.
Amour Argo–WINNER Beasts of the Southern Wild Django Unchained Les Miserables Life of Pi Lincoln Silver Linings Playbook Zero Dark Thirty
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln–WINNER
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook–WINNER Emmanuelle Riva, Amour Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Michael Haneke, Amour Ang Lee, Life of Pi–WINNER
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Best Original Screenplay
Amour, Michael Hankie Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino–WINNER Flight, John Gatins Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal
Best Adapted Screenplay
Argo, Chris Terrio–WINNER Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Life of Pi, David Magee Lincoln, Tony Kushner Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell
Best Original Song
“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice, music and lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted, music by Walter Murphy; lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi, music by Mychael Danna; lyric by Bombay Jayashri “Skyfall” from Skyfall, music and lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth–WINNER
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Best Original Score
Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli Argo, Alexandre Desplat Life of Pi, Mychael Danna–WINNER Lincoln, John Williams Skyfall, Thomas Newman
Best Production Design
Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright Les Misérables, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson–WINNER
Best Film Editing
Argo, William Goldenberg–WINNER Life of Pi, Tim Squyres Lincoln, Michael Kahn Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables–WINNER
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Best Sound Editing
Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers–WINNER Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson–WINNER
Best Sound Mixing
Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes–WINNER Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Best Foreign Language Film
Amour, Austria–WINNER Kon-Tiki, Norway No, Chile A Royal Affair, Denmark War Witch, Canada
Best Documentary Feature
5 Broken Cameras The Gatekeepers How to Survive a Plague The Invisible War Searching for Sugar Man–WINNER
Best Documentary Short
Kings Point Mondays at Racine Open Heart Redemption Inocente–WINNER
Best Live Action Short
Asad Buzkashi Boys Curfew–WINNER Death of a Shadow Henry
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained––WINNER
Best Animated Short
Adam and Dog Fresh Guacamole Head over Heels Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” Paperman–WINNER
Best Animated Feature
Brave–WINNER Frankenweenie ParaNorman The Pirates! Band of Misfits Wreck-It Ralph
Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey Django Unchained, Robert Richardson Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda–WINNER Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski Skyfall, Roger Deakins
Best Visual Effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott–WINNER The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
Best Costume Design
Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran–WINNER Les Misérables, Paco Delgado Lincoln, Joanna Johnston Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell–WINNER