It was a great year for movies, 2012, and the Academy responded appropriately, by honoring lots of them, instead of lavishing a bunch of major awards on one, as sometimes happens. I love movies, have strong opinions about them, and am usually the most partisan Oscar-watcher ever, alternately furious or smug as awards are announced. This year, though, I was pretty Zen. Best Supporting Actress? Meh. Anne Hathaway or Sally Field? I thought they were both terrific. I was delighted for Hathaway for winning, but was saddened that we weren’t going to get to see if Sally Field could outdo ‘you like me, you really like me!’ There was a tie, in fact, in the vote for Best Sound Editing, which I didn’t remember having seen before, but once it happened, I was delighted, and started rooting for more of them.
I thought Seth MacFarlane was just fine as Oscar host, and I sort of liked his back and forth with Captain Kirk (visiting from the future), which allowed him to alternatively introduce the wonderfully tacky song-and-dance number “We saw your boobs” with, uh, more respectful offerings (all of which I completely forgot as soon as they were over.)
What else? There were many many musical numbers. Wow, were there musical numbers. And this led to the most tiresome annual Oscar tradition–they artificially inflate the program with completely unnecessary musical bits then spend the last hour making lame jokes about how long the whole thing has gone on. We get it–it’s very late. So why not just cut the endless Chicago tribute?
Anyway, I have some awards of my own to offer:
Achievements in bad sound mixing: for every single musical number all night. It was ‘orchestra drowning out the singers’ night. They drowned out Adele! How do you overpower Adele?!?!?!?
Also, the award for making a big deal out of the one nominated song anyone actually cared about and that everyone and his dog knew would actually win: Adele again. You notice that; they make a big out of Adele singing her Bond theme song, then do a quick ‘oh, there were also these other songs nominated’ montage. Adele also gets the award for us finally learning the last name of a previously single-named celebrity. Atkins, who knew?
Classiest Oscar acceptance speech: Daniel Day-Lewis. The Brits, man, they are so good at this. Funny, smart, believably humble; DDL nailed it. Plus his wife’s adorable.
Every costume designer in the room simultaneously thinking ‘you know, it can’t just look good, the actor has to be able to move in it’: Jennifer Lawrence’s dress, which may have been the bomb, but which she couldn’t climb stairs in.
Sally Field award for Annual Best Actress meltdown speech: not won this year, in a break from tradition, by Jennifer Lawrence, who did just fine, considering that she’d just, like, fallen down in front of a billion people. No, this year it was a tie, between Quentin Tarantino, and Chris Terrio. Odd that the two writing awards winners both gave gosh-awful acceptance speeches. Tarantino, however, gets extra chutzpah points for suggesting that fifty years from now, he’s the only guy there anyone’s going to remember. Even though that’s probably true.
Horrendous unconscionable grotesque miscarriage of justice gratuitous slap in the face to one of the great writers of this or any other generation award: I feel rather strongly about Tony Kushner not winning.
Worst unnecessary, show-momentum-killing under-rehearsed badly performed musical number: Tie: all of them.
The ‘I think she, uh, may have had some work done’ award: to Renee Zellweger, whose face looks molded from plastic anymore.
Charming surprise winner: Ang Lee, absolutely. Life of Pi was a wonderful film, and it was great to see it get so much love from Oscar. And his acceptance speech was terrific.
You can even survive Gigli award: To Ben Affleck. Hollywood loves redemption stories, and what’s more redemptive than winning Best Picture for a guy who was in the desert five years ago.
In a year with no single obvious winner, spread the awards wealth award: Lincoln won Best Actor, plus Production Design; Argo won Best Picture, plus some technical awards, Life of Pi won Best Director, plus well deserved awards for cinematography and SFX, Django Unchained won Best Screenplay, plus Supporting Actor, and Les Mis won Costumes, plus Best Supporting Actress, and Silver Linings Playbook won Best Actress. Zero Dark Thirty was surprisingly shut out of major awards–it was maybe just a bit too torture-y for Oscar. Beasts of the Southern Wild was entirely shut out, but just getting nominated was a big deal for that little film, and teeny-little Quevenzhane Wallis was the cutest cutaway shot of the night.
You’re a professional actress, dear–try to look at least a little excited to be here award: to Kristen Stewart, who managed to look both contemptuously bored and terrified out of her mind. Both simultaneously. She did win two Razzies last night, though, so there’s that.
Worst presenting couple: Jack Nicholson and Michelle Obama. Jack, looking even more seedy and disreputable and gleefully Satanic than ever, introducing . . . the First Lady? Wha. . . ?
Best speech about the power of film as an art form: Michelle Obama’s speech, though, was great.
Proudly raised middle finger to cultural conservatives: Hollywood’s been under attack lately, more even than usual, because of conservatives re-directing attention from guns to Hollywood as explanations for gun violence. And Hollywood is often accused of leaning very left politically. So, Michelle Obama? As an ‘in your face?’ Or also, giving an Oscar to Quentin Tarantino?
Overall: I enjoyed the evening, despite interminable musical interludes and lame comedy bits and the overall smugness and self-congratulatory ego-stroking that makes Oscar Oscar. I wanted Lincoln to win, but Argo was a really good movie too, so okay.
Oh, also, Twilight: Breaking Dawn won the Razzie for Worst Picture. Bad choice. Hard to see it, in a year that also featured Taken 2.