Pop-Ed: Our Official Oscar Wrap-Up

brent johnson puts everything in perspective …

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Brent Johnson is Pop-Break’s resident Oscar expert, so we feel there’s no better way to wrap up our Oscar coverage than with the words of our beloved managing editor — our Mr. Oscar.

HOW DID ARGO WIN?
By now, the entire universe knows that Ben Affleck was shamefully snubbed for a Best Director nomination. And usually, that’s the kiss of death for a film’s Oscar chances. Before last night, only three movies in Oscar history have gone on to win Best Picture despite not having a directing nod. So how did Affleck’s film, Argo, become the fourth?

Well, it may be quite simple. The Academy is broken into branches: the actor’s branch, the director’s branch, the editor’s branch, and so on. Only the individual branches pick the nominees in their respective categories. And it could be that the stodgy old director’s branch felt Affleck is still a newbie on the block. Or they may have still seen him as an actor first, and one who has been ridiculed for a resume that is littered with poor choices. Or maybe a number of voters felt he was a lock anyway and a gave their votes to other candidates, unwittingly pushing Affleck out.

Regardless, every branch of the Academy votes for the winners in all categories. So, it’s possible the actor’s branch — the biggest voting bloc in the Academy — got angry at Affleck’s snub and threw all their weight behind Argo for Best Picture to make up for the oversight. Or maybe the snub simply reminded them that Argo is a really good film and deserves more attention. It balances thrills and comedy — and it looks and feels like an Oscar movie. Personally, I feel only the wonderful Silver Linings Playbook was a better choice this year.

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LIFE OF SIGH?
Argo may have won Best Picture, but it didn’t collect the most statues of the evening. That honor goes to Life Of Pi, which scored four victories: director, cinematography, score, and visual effects. it just goes to prove that visual spectacles often clean up in the technical categories — but only sometimes take home the big prize.

A SURPRISE?
Some critics online seemed surprised at Ang Lee’s win in the Best Director category for Life Of Pi. But in reality, it wasn’t too shocking. The director’s branch of the Academy was likely mightily impressed that Lee was able to turn a book that some said was unfilmable and turn it into a dazzling picture where the audience forgot it was watching CGI in 3D. The only real shocker of the night: Brave besting heavily favored Wreck-It Ralph for Best Animated Feature.

THE REAL WINNER
Regardless of Lee’s victory, whoever won Best Director this year would always have been remembered as an also-ran. Even the director’s branch has to realize by now what a colossal mistake they made by snubbing Affleck.

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THREE’S COMPANY
Daniel Day-Lewis made history, becoming the only man to win Best Actor three times. His gold trophy for eerily embodying the 16th president of the United States in Lincoln joins his previous statues for 1989’s My Left Foot and 2007’s for There Will Be Blood.

Only one other actor has won three Oscars: Jack Nicholson — but two were for Best Actor (for 1975’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and 1997’s As Good As It Gets) and one was for Best Supporting Actor (for 1983’s Terms Of Endearment). Two women have taken three or more Oscars: Katherine Hepburn won four Best Actress statuettes (for 1934’s Morning Glory, 1968’s Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, 1969’s The Lion In Winter, 1982’s On Golden Pond). Meryl Streep has grabbed three — two for Best Actress (for 1982’s Sophie’s Choice and 2011’s The Iron Lady) and one for Best Supporting Actress (for 1979’s Kramer Vs. Kramer).

IT’S A TIE
Speaking of Ms. Hepburn .. For only the sixth time in Oscar history, there was a tie. Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall both won Best Sound Editing. The first time that happened was in 1932, when Wallace Beery (The Champ) and Fredic March (Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde) shared the Best Actor award. It happened again in 1969, when Katherine Hepburn (The Lion In Winter) and Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl) tied for Best Actress. Along the way, there have also been two ties in the short film category and another in the long-form documentary category.

MS. BASSEY, IF YOU’RE NASTY
Shirley Bassey is 76. I repeat: She’s 76! But last night, the Welsh songstress stepped on stage, started belting the greatest Bond theme of all time (“Goldfinger”), and proved she still posses quite a magnificent voice. The tune’s booming final note is one singers half her age can barely touch. But she hit it, and she hit it well. The best music performance of the night, hands down.

ANOTHER SNUB FOR SPIEBLERG
Steven Spielberg’s relationship with Oscar has always been complicated. When Jaws became a smash hit and Best Picture nominee in 1975, Spielberg was the victim of an Affleck — he failed to receive a Best Director nod. The same happened in 1985: When Spielberg won the Director’s Guild Award for The Color Purple, he didn’t receive a nomination from the Academy. The Oscars finally made up for it in 1993 by giving him the director and picture prizes for Schindler’s List. But the complications continued in 1998 when Spielberg won Best Director but lost Best Picture for Saving Private Ryan. The most bankable — and most wondrous — director of his generation hasn’t won since.

Lincoln was the front-runner in the wake of this year’s nominations. But then Affleck was snubbed, and the former Mr. Gigli was suddenly given underdog momentum.

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Of course, Spielberg didn’t deserve Best Director this year. Lincoln was stately, but it was also long and boring at times. Still, with Affleck snubbed and no clear favorite, this was a perfect year to honor the man who revolutionized the way a generation saw films. He invented the blockbuster. He made popcorn films into an art. He will go down as one of the most important artists of the 20th century. You’d think Oscar would drool all over his work. After all, the ceremony is supposed to be about melding artistic achievement with commerce. No one does that better than Spielberg.

COOL FACT OF THE NIGHT
George Clooney became only the second person in history to score nominations in six different categories. He has been nominated for Best Picture (fpr 2012’s Argo), Best Director (for 2005’s Good Night, And Good Luck.), Best Original Screenplay (for 2005’s Good Night, And Good Luck.), Best Adapted Screenplay (for 2011’s The Ides Of March), Best Actor (for 2007’s Michael Clayton, 2009’s Up In The Air, 2011’s The Descendants), and Best Supporting Actor (for 2005’s Syriana). The only other person to do it? Walt Disney.

Clooney also shared an unofficial award: best beard, with co-winner Ben Affleck.

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