bill bodkin looks back at the highlights of the 2013 Oscars …
THE OPENING: It was a bit left-of-center, but it was still pretty damn funny. Bringing William Shatner in was completely unexpected. And he was good. I enjoyed host Seth MacFarlane’s musical numbers, especially the inclusion of the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Choir. Kind of an inspired decision to have Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron cut a rug and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe do a soft shoe.
THE HOST: Throughout the night, Seth MacFarlane was hit-or-miss with his jokes — his misses were more ‘meh’ than ‘that was awful,’ and his hits scored big laughs. MacFarlane probably cemented himself as the new Bob Hope or Billy Crystal tonight — as the man who will be the long-running Oscar host. He was topical, off-the-cuff, affable and engaging. His musical performances were terrific, and he was a much more involved host then usual. Of course, there’s plenty who didn’t enjoy him, but to each his own, right? The Ted bit with Mark Wahlberg was okay — nothing amazing.
THE PERFORMANCES: Shirley Bassey started a bit off-key during “Goldfinger,” but the Grand Dame — at 76! — pulled it together. Catherine Zeta-Jones, while seemingly slightly off during with her vocal track during her performance of “All That Jazz,” but she still gave a very physically demanding performance. Jennifer Hudson, seriously, this woman just straight up kills it every time she performs live. Seriously … why isn’t she making more records? Barbra Streisand did a nice tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch, singing one of their most memorable tunes, “The Way We Were.”
As for Les Miserables — Hugh Jackman is always awesome and so were Eddie Redymane and Anne Hathaway. Amanda Seyfried was decent. The little-known singers (well at least to the movie-going audience) were great. And for all the crap Russell Crowe took from critics of the film, he did a good job here. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were fine. Redmayne might’ve been the most impressive actually.
Then there was Adele. She performed one of the best James Bond songs in forever … if not of all time. Remember when she was just another face in the Amy Winehouse soundalike invasion? Now, she’s the queen of music. She delivered a really strong performance, but my performance of the night still goes to J-Huds.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
Way to start the night off with an upset Oscar. Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln and Robert DeNiro for Silver Linings Playbook seemed to be the top contenders, but Waltz, who was also excellent, took the statue. Could this be a classic case of Waltz winning the award because the voters were deadlocked between who was better, DeNiro or Jones? Well, no matter what, Christoph Waltz was well-deserving of his second statue.
NO LOVE FOR DEAKINS: Shawkshank Redemption. Fargo. Kundun. O Brother Where Art Thou? The Man Who Wasn’t There. The Assassination Of Jesse James. No Country For Old Men. The Reader. True Grit. Skyfall. These are all the films cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated for — and he’s never won. This is a shame.
A TIE?: Has this ever happened in Oscar history? Well thanks to our resident Oscar buff, Brent Johnson, this has happened only five times before. The two most high-profile occurrences? Whens Frederich March and Wallace Beery tied for Best Actor in 1931/1932 and Barbra Streisand and Katherine Hepburn for Best Actress in 1969. Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty definitely deserved to win some technical awards — glad both were honored for Sound Editing.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
We all saw this one coming a mile away. And thankfully, we can put those Taylor Swift-esque ‘gee-golly’ award speeches in the history books. Snark aside, Anne Hathaway has come a very long way since playing Mia Thermopoulous in The Princess Diaries. She’s had some strong performances — whether it be drama (Rachel Getting Married), comedy (Get Smart), action (The Dark Knight Rises)but Les Mis was her breakout as an A-List actress. By the way, New Jersey represent.
THE PRESENTERS: Usually not something we care about, because they’re historically awful. However, some really stood out. First, Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy were terrifically off-the-wall. Channing Tatum continued to show he’s more than the dude from Step Up as he had a nicely understated and humorous podium run. Can we talk about how Michelle Obama makes the surprise cameo for Best Picture? Wow. Unexpected. And of course, Jack Nicholson was vintage Jack.
ADELE WINS … AGAIN: Yes, you may be getting tired of her winning all the time … but there’s a reason for that — she’s pretty awesome. “Skyfall” is one of the best Bond songs off all-time and it’s a terrific song altogether. As always, Adele’s reactions are always fun and heartfelt. A deserved win.
A TECHNICAL MASTERPIECE?: It took home Oscars for Original Score, Visual Effects and Cinematography — more awards than the big guns in the race, Les Mis, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty. And then there was the big one — Ang Lee takes home the Best Director award. He’s finally vindicated himself for making that bad Hulk movie. We kid (sorta). Lee is a fantastic director, and in a year when the pool of nominees was ‘soft,’ Lee turned out to be the strongest off them all.
SCREENPLAY SURPRISES: Quentin Tarantino said it best: This was the year of the writer. QT taking home the statue was a surprise — especially with Mark Boal’s great Zero Dark screenplay in his category. As for adapted screenplay, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook was a big dog in this fight, as were Lincoln and Life of Pi, but Argo stole it.
BEST ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Ladies and gentlemen, the new generation’s Meryl Streep. From someone who started as the sassy pants daughter on TBS’ short-lived Bill Engvall Show to a two-time Best Actress nominee and the heroine of one of the biggest blockbusters of 2012 and most likely 2013, she’s now become today’s best actress. And even tripping up the stairs, Lawrence is still a picture of grace, humility and everydayness. Watching her career unfold has been amazing and what it holds will be just as amazing.
BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
DDL is the first actor to win Best Actor award three times. Well, of course. He’s the best damn actor we’ve ever seen. This award was a shoe-in for him since the day this movie opened. He was uncharacteristically humorous in his speech, which was great to see.
BEST PICTURE: Argo, producers Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, and George Clooney
Wow, the little picture that could. It was literally months ago when magazines were saying Argo was the film to beat. Then, it fell of the radar. It was still bandied about for a Best Pic nom, but Zero Dark and Les Mis were the ones garnering the most attention. But then came the snub. And then everyone remembered … “Damn, this was an amazing movie.” And Argo really was. It was such a tense, well-written, terrifically acted and wonderfully crafted film. Ben Affleck was brilliant in his speech, so heartfelt and humorous, you could tell this meant the world to him. And man, we can’t wait to see what else this director has to offer us for years to come.