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My Night at the Oscars, from the Red Carpet to the Governor's Ball

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 26, 2013 at 4:27PM

It was mighty fun attending the Oscars as a guest, as opposed to standing on high heels with the print press off the red carpet or backstage, simultaneously tracking the show and winners' interviews. It's been a while since I covered inside the Oscar show for Premiere and EW--back at the Shrine and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Indiewire colleague and Oscar virgin Peter Knegt, sporting a new tuxedo, and I opted to walk to the show instead of driving. This required a police escort up Highland from Sunset to the red carpet entrance on Hollywood Boulevard. Sparkling big-haired Adele was behind us, wraith-like Anne Hathaway ahead.
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Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence

The Bond 50th anniversary celebration brought the magnificent Shirley Bassey, who earned a standing ovation when she hit that high note at the end of "Goldfinger." It's too bad Adele couldn't follow with her Oscar-winning "Skyfall," but they went straight to a commercial. The planned reunion of the Bonds didn't happen because both Roger Moore and Sean Connery weren't up for the trip, said Bond George Lazenby at the BAFTA nominee celebration Friday night in the British Consul's garden in Hancock Park. (When I introduced him to Jared Harris, they shared tales of Jared's father, legendary drinker Richard Harris.)

Christoph Waltz
Christoph Waltz

The music played well in the house, better than host Seth MacFarlane, who earned many audible groans and failed to engage with this audience; as offensive as he often was, the writing was weak and he wasn't funny. While he can sing and dance and read a teleprompter, he actually hasn't developed a real persona. MacFarlane was "serviceable," said one attendee at the Governor's Ball, while the closing number was in bad taste, everyone agreed, and made Neil Patrick Harris look really good.

The Academy insists on continuing to chase the young male demographic while alienating the core older audience that goes to see the nominees. Isn't the Oscars supposed to be a celebration of the movies? I worry that the Academy will consider MacFarlane a success by virtue of an uptick in ratings, which were partly due to his appeal to the younger demo, but were more about the caliber and popularity of the many hits on display.

George Clooney
George Clooney

At the Governor's Ball, when I asked Jennifer Lawrence why she fell, she said, "Look at this dress!" Quentin Tarantino forgave me for not picking him to win by planting a big wet one. Christoph Waltz admitted that in Austria, he used to lose awards--but not since he started working with Tarantino. Michael Feinstein in my humble opinion comes nowhere near last year's Ball crooner, Tony Bennett.

After happy producer George Clooney got his Oscar engraved, he reminded me that "Argo" started winning awards at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice before the Academy's Ben Affleck "snub." In other words it might have won anyway. He was one of many bearded men at the Oscars--but his is for a role in his next directing gig, "Monuments Men," which starts shooting in a few days in Europe-- and could be a factor at next year's Oscars.

Ang Lee
Ang Lee

At night's end we checked out Fox's dance party at Lure, where the "Beasts" contingent was dancing up a storm alongside all the "Life of Pi" winners. I hoisted an Oscar and was reminded of how heavy they are. Fox 2000's Elizabeth Gabler was bone-weary after a decade-long fight to get the movie made and turn it into a worldwide hit heading for the $600 million mark. On my way out, Ang Lee arrived. He was smiling.

This article is related to: Reviews, Awards, Awards, Academy Awards, Seth MacFarlane, Oscars


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.