The Oscar show was bloated with movie music that had no reason being there. (A tribute to Chicago? Other than the fact that the Oscar show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron also produced that movie .. oh yeah, that’s why). It had Seth MacFarlane, whose jokes might have been offensive if they weren’t so stale and dull. It had Adlele singing the theme from Skyfall, only to have her voice struggle to be heard over the orchestra. No sound editing at this all-musical Oscars? Ugh.
Here is a no-frills snapshot of the night.
WAS SETH MACFARLANE AS BAD AS TWITTER SAID?
In a word, yes – and I understand that he thought he was being ironic, not sexist or stereotypical. But he and the writers never seemed to get that trying to be edgy -- the animated bear from MacFarlane’s movie Ted joked about Jews running Hollywood -- isn’t the same as being edgy. (This is a subject that deserves its own review, here. Hint: it includes time travel.)
HOW SNOOZY WAS THE SHOW, EXACTLY?
Zzzzzz. Christoph Waltz wins. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Shirley Bassey wakes people up by singing 'Goldfnger,' loud. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. More loud music from Chicago, Dreamgirls and Les Miserables. No sleep during that, but a major headache. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Obama, Ben Affleck.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE?
Michelle Obama’s remote appearance from the White House to announce Best Picture. It was great tribute to movies and she made a serious pitch for the importance of the arts. The downside: the camera was on her when she said “Argo,”, not the faces of the winner and losers.
OK, WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST AWARDS SURPRISE?
Three-way tie -- in categories that were the toughest to predict from the start. If the show had been less excruciating, the real suspense would have registered with more impact.
There was Ang Lee’s win as Director and the two Django awards: Christoph Waltz for Supporting Actor and Quentin Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay.
A big, bad surprise: the orchestra played Quentin off with the theme from – wait for it – Gone With The Wind. Yes, all about slavery. Even if the choice was random, the music director or someonw could have veered into a different choice fast. Was the whole thing on autopilot?
WHO HAD THE BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH?
There were no great speeches, but there were some good lines.
Jennifer Lawrence was too flustered to say much, but she had a fantastic, geniune, commonsensical response to it all. She tripped heading up the stairs -- every winner in heels’ nightmare. When she got to the stage and the audience started to stand, she said, “You guys are standing up because you feel bad that I fell. Thank you.” She was right, and totally winning in every way.
For an ultra-serious actor, Daniel Day-Lewis has given very playful, funny speeches all season. Accepting the Oscar from Meryl Streep, he said that three years ago, “I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher.”
HOW WAS THE BEST DEAD PEOPLE’S MONTAGE?
It was introduced by George Clooney, followed by Barbra Streisand singing “The Way We Were,” and in the middle were tributes not just to actors but to critic Andrew Sarris and publicist Lois Smith. They were friends, so I won’t pretend to be objective; I’ll just say I can forgive the show anything for including them.
HOW DID NATE SILVER DO?
I was convinced by his logical predictions, but apparently Hollywood is harder to call than politics. It’s true he only predicted the top six awards, and two of those -- Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway – were obvious locks. But he missed two of the other four, picking Steven Spielberg instead of Ang Li and Tommy Lee Jones instead of Waltz. Just four out of those six? I might have done better by guessing.
WHEN DID I HIT THE MUTE BUTTON?
During the ABC pre-show whenever Kristin Chenowith opened her mouth to chirp at the stars on the red carpet, making the conversation all about herself, and often about herself being short. It seemed at the time like ABC’s evil-genius scheme to create a Red Carpet show so actively bad that that the Oscars show would have to look good by comparison. And ... it actually was less painful. That’s just sad.