Monday, February 25, 2013
2012 Oscar Winners: Show Post-Mortem
They say "everyone's a critic," but I really am, so I can't help myself. I just have to comment briefly on the things about last night's Oscar telecast. In general, I think Seth MacFarlane was a decent host / ringmaster - he's amiable, good-looking, funny and he can sing (really sing well). With his TV quotient now through the roof with this gig, the next time some movie producer is putting together a cast list for another movie musical, expect MacFarlane's name to be thrown into the mix.
The material didn't always suit the host's brand of funny. First of all, the opening routine went WAY TOO LONG - over 15 minutes. I would have just had him make his opening monologue and sang "We Saw Her Boobs" with the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus and called for a "cut, print." The dance interlude with Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum, while pretty, was a time-filler, and the ongoing stuff with original Star Trek Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) kept going on and on and on, long after it ceased to be amusing. For a show that had a generally swift pace, it still ran 3 hours and 30 minutes, so producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron could have trimmed 15 minutes of fat off that running time right out of the gate.
Their tribute to movie musicals of the past decade just felt so random. I know their movie Chicago won Best Picture a decade ago and Dreamgirls was a big Oscar contender in 2006 (8 nominations) and Zadan and Meron have expressed great respect for Les Miserables. But what about Hairspray and Mamma Mia which were the two biggest movie musical hits of that decade? You could have also made an argument for including The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, The Producers (all three Broadway transfers), Moulin Rouge, or even Disney's animated The Princess and the Frog or Tangled. This tribute also gave Les Miserables an inordinate amount of air time, and if this were a political election, the other nominees would be screaming for equal access.
The other tribute, this one to 50 years of James Bond on screen, was a cool idea, but amounted to just a montage to Monty Norman's iconic Bond theme, followed by Shirley Bassey's really solid performance of "Goldfinger" 48 years after she first performed the number - awesome. Where were the other Bond theme songs (many of them Oscar-nominated, which "Goldfinger" was not), like "Live and Let Die", "Nobody Does It Better" or "For Your Eyes." This year's Oscar-nominated Bond theme song "Skyfall" then wasn't even included in the tribute but given its own segment which was just plain weird. And if you are going to allow air time to two nominated songs, then you better have performances of the other three nominees, which this show didn't have - again, equal access.
The banter between Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy before the Animated awards was awkward and another time-waster. I have always felt that every awards show would be better with just ONE presenter at a time, so that presenter can just come out, say a few remarks, recite the nominees and give out the Oscar. Honestly, these stars don't want to utter puerile banter, scripted for them by writers who have probably never even met them. If the producers fear the one presenter rule would limit the star power of the show, there are plenty of stars right there in the audience, you idiots. Pan your camera across the audience and your star quotient is fulfilled instantly.
As for the awards themselves, I did better than I expected to do. I thought I'd be lucky to get just 50% correct, but I accurately guessed 17 out of 24 awards, with two others going to my alternate choice. As for Oscar history, Daniel Day-Lewis was the first actor to win three Best Actor awards, and he joins the rarefied acting company of fellow three-time winners such as Katherine Hepburn (she won 4 Oscars actually), Meryl Streep, Walter Brennan, Ingrid Bergman, and Jack Nicholson. There are then only about 25 actors and actresses who have ever won two Oscars, so Christoph Waltz now joins that club as well. Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence both won Oscars on their second nominations. At 22 years, 6 months, 9 days, Lawrence is now the second youngest person to win Best Actress (Marlee Matlin was just 21 years, 7 months, 6 days on the date of her Oscar win).
I was not horrified or disgusted by any of the Oscar winners, although I've never been a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino's knock-off homages to genre filmmaking. I never bought into the idea that French actress Emmanuelle Riva was going to win Best Actress, so I'm actually happy that she didn't. Of the 9 Best Picture nominees, 8 films won at least one Oscar. Argo won Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing. Life of Pi was the night's big winner with 4 awards for Director, Music Score, Cinematography and Visual Effects. Les Miserables won 3 Oscars for Supporting Actress, Sound Mixing, and Make-up & Hairstyling. Lincoln won 2 awards for Best Actor and Production Design. Amour won Foreign Language Film; Silver Linings Playbook won Best Actress; Zero Dark Thirty won just Sound Editing, which it tied with Skyfall (a winner also in the Original Song category). Only Beasts of the Southern Wild went home empty-handed.
- by Jonathan Lewis