85th academy awards, academy awards, adele, adrien brody, alan arkin, amy adams, ang lee, animal kingdom, argo, beasts of the southern wild, ben affleck, best director, bill the butcher, capote, catherine zeta-jones, charlie wilson's war, chicago, christoph waltz, coen brothers, crouching tigered, daniel day-lewis, denis levant, django unchained, don mischer, dreamgirls, duran duran, enchanted, fall, gangs of new york, goldfinger, grammy, grant heslov, grosse pointe blank, hamm's, holy motors, how to survive a plague, hunger games, jacki weaver, james bond, jennifer hudson, jennifer lawrence, jessica chastain, junebug, leap year, les miserables, life of pi, lincoln, little miss sunshine, magnolia, musicals, nine, no country for old men, Oscars, paul thomas anderson, philip seymour hoffman, quentin tarantino, quvenzhane wallis, robert elswit, roger deakins, rushmore, searching for sugar man, seth mcfarlane, sheena easton, shirley bassey, steven spielberg, the assassination of jesse james by the coward robert ford, the invisible war, the master, the muppets, there will be blood, tommy lee jones, tribute, wes anderson, winter's bone, zero dark thirty
So the 85th Academy Awards have come and gone. We’ve had a few days to reflect on what transpired on Sunday. The question most people ask every year is, “Did the Academy finally get it right?” Well, I can say they got some things correct, but mostly it was same old, same old with good ol’ Oscar. Which is to say, their choices didn’t align with mine. At all. Ever.
The show itself was as lame as ever. Seth McFarlane has taken a lot of heat for his performance as the host. While it was nice to see someone new charged with the hosting duties, I have to agree with his critics – AWFUL. Why anyone is surprised or upset about the misogynistic bend to his musical numbers and jokes is beyond me. It should have been expected. After all, Hollywood is an over-glorified Old Boys Club where women have taken a back seat since its inception. Precedent is there. It ain’t changin’ anytime soon, folks.
The 50 Years of James Bond was equally weak, with Shirley Bassey belting out her signature song from Goldfinger. Was Sheena Easton or Duran Duran too busy to contribute to this piece? I know Bassey is 76 and all, but damn – was a standing ovation really necessary? Hollywood hands those out as much as hugs are passed around at a youth gymnastics meet (reference Jennifer Lawrence getting one for falling).
And that tribute to musicals – was there a need to highlight musicals…of the last 10 years? Jennifer Hudson can sing. I can get with that. Trotting out the Chicago bit – why the fuck? Is this some bone being thrown to Catherine Zeta-Jones since her career has been in the shitter since the movie? Vomit. Fair play to the Les Miserables folks although it cements the reason I won’t ever watch it. This whole portion of the telecast seemed needless and really added nothing to the show. Had Les Miserables been the clear frontrunner in many of the categories, I might have understood it. But it wasn’t. So future Oscars directors and producers, heed this suggestion – cut the shit. The show is long enough as it is.
Adele‘s speech was pretty awesome. I love how cheeky she’s been at the film awards shows. I can’t say as I’m a fan of the song for which she won, but it was worth it to see her accept the Oscar. 146 Grammys and now an Oscar – not a bad run for the 24-year old.
Lastly, in terms of the show itself, the camerawork was flat out awful. How many long shots of doors to the side of the stage did we get? Don Mischer, the director, should never be allowed near another Oscar ceremony. Just a mess from the beginning.
Now on to the awards…
Argo winning was no surprise. It swept every major award for Best Picture. Good on it. Had Lincoln won, I would have blown a gasket. I still think this film is average fare for the most part. I enjoyed it, but I still don’t think it was anywhere near the top five films of the year let alone the best. The Master still holds that title. Grant Heslov‘s sexiest producers comment was quite amusing during the acceptance speech. I wish Hollywood had some balls and actually saw and voted for films that will have a lasting impact on the medium. I don’t think Argo is one of those. Good for Ben Affleck, though. He has made some enjoyable films as of late and he did get fucked in the Best Director category not even getting a nomination.
Undoubtedly the most satisfying moment of the evening for me came when Ang Lee won the Best Director award over Spielberg for Lincoln. When the nominations came out and Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck were passed over, I thought this category was a one-way ticket to Three-Time Oscarville for Spielberg. Maybe if Lincoln wasn’t a glorified Lifetime film, he might have won. So the Academy got this one correct, even though I’ve yet to see Life of Pi. Lee‘s prior work has mostly been of the tremendous variety, so I applaud this choice. I hold to my guns that Paul Thomas Anderson was the most deserving here.
I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised that Christoph Waltz won for Best Supporting Actor in Django Unchained. In a category where everyone had already won an Oscar, it was truly anyone’s award to win. I thought Robert De Niro was going to pull it out. Alan Arkin while good in Argo, gave a stock performance (at least that’s how it felt to me), one that was so similar to Little Miss Sunshine (for which he won his Oscar) or Grosse Pointe Blank, that I didn’t see what was so special about it. Same with Tommy Lee Jones‘ performance in Lincoln. I think the content of the character in which he played fueled his rise in the odds to win more than the performance itself (this, I suppose, can also be said of Waltz). Once again, it wasn’t bad, but it was nothing exceptional either. Philip Seymour Hoffman was amazing in The Master and his performance was another to hang his hat on, vastly different than his signature performances in Capote, Magnolia or Charlie Wilson’s War. It seems clear that Waltz needs to continue working with Quentin Tarantino. He’s 2-for-2 in Oscar competition in Tarantino roles.
Anne Hathaway winning Best Supporting Actress was as much as a given as me drinking at least one Hamm’s each night. I didn’t see Les Mis, nor will I, so I can’t speak to the performance. My wife, whose opinion can be suspect when it comes to films, gave it high marks. I guess her PhD in Theater convinces me that this was okay. I still loved Amy Adams in The Master out of the nominees that I had seen. Can someone get her a damn Oscar already? Since I first saw her in Junebug, she has consistently put out good top notch work, even though she has sprinkled in some crappy pap like Leap Year, Enchanted and The Muppets). She gets a free pass on those, though. We redheads need to stick together. I will say that Jacki Weaver is top notch and I love seeing her get accolades. Her performance in Animal Kingdom is still one of the strongest I’ve ever seen.
I have no issue with Jennifer Lawrence winning for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. She is talented and I admit I find myself interested in her performances each time I watch her, even in the shitty Hunger Games. She killed it in Winter’s Bone. I would have liked to have seen Quvenzhane Wallis pull out the upset, but alas 9-year olds don’t win Best Actress Oscars, do they? Especially in films like Beasts of the Southern Wild. Damn you, Academy. Big ups also go to Jessica Chastain for her performance in Zero Dark Thirty. She is one of the more mesmerizing people working in film today. Her day will come, I have no doubt.
Daniel Day-Lewis winning Best Actor for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln was a foregone conclusion when I saw the first released still from production. After seeing what a dead fucking ringer he was for our 16th president, I knew that his performance would likely be the same – badass. And it was. The only truly good memorable thing about the film, to be honest. Without him in that role, Lincoln fails. He is without a doubt the finest actor working in the business and brings an unparalleled ferocity to each of his roles making each performance as memorable as the next (well, with exception of Nine, perhaps). I can’t speak about Hugh Jackman‘s performance, but none of the others were in the same ballpark as Lewis’. Joaquin Phoenix was very powerful in The Master and gave the second best performance of the year of those nominated. I still believe that Denis Levant‘s performance in Holy Motors was the best of any film this year. It’s a shame that Hollywood is so one-sided in its nomination process. I do firmly believe that DDL should have already had 3 Best Actor Oscars. His performance as Bill “The Butcher” Cutting in Gangs of New York haunted me like few others ever have. That he lost to Adrien Brody that year is one of the all-time Oscar crimes.
As far as the other awards go, none really stood out as too tremendously preposterous. The writing awards did yield a surprise in Django Unchained winning Best Original Screenplay. Zero Dark Thirty seemed to have stranglehold on that award until late in the season. I still think it’s odd that Wes Anderson has only been nominated twice for this award. Rushmore, anyone? HELLL-OOOO? I think plenty of folks were upset to see Roger Deakins not win for Best Cinematography for Skyfall. He is the Peter O’Toole of cinematographers having been nominated 10 times without ever winning. And this is the man who has shot the bulk of the Coen Brothers films. He deserves an Oscar. He was nominated for two gorgeously shot films in 2008 (No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford) only to lose to Robert Elswit for There Will Be Blood. In the Best Documentary Feature category, I love that Searching for Sugar Man won, but I still think that How to Survive a Plague and even The Invisible War deserved it more. I’ve come around on The Invisible War after watching it a second time, which will be my last. That film is too gutting to watch another time. These two films have an importance that go well beyond their life as films. They are culture changers and that’s what I love best about this category.
Not too much to get up in arms about. I addressed my concerns after the nominations came out. I fully anticipate a call from the Academy next year so we can compare notes and I can tell them where they got it wrong. I’ll be sitting by the phone if you need me…