"To the Blockbusterification of history!"
Somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, Billy Crystal is having his best tuxedo retailored so he'll be ready when the Academy comes crawling back to him.
I'm writing this just half an hour after the end of the 85th annual Academy Awards, so I can't tell if Seth MacFarlane was really as bad as I thought he was, or if I'm just experiencing a toxic overload after three and a half hours of his oozing, smarmy, self-satisfied douchery. An animator and voice actor who sees himself as an old-fashioned crooner - if by "old-fashioned" you mean "exemplifying the misogynistic, racist alpha-male swagger of an era he's too young to remember" - MacFarlane was given license to remake the Oscar show in his image, which meant lots of singing and dancing and cheap shots and an endless opening conversation with a slumped William Shatner in full Admiral Kirk regalia. And you thought a couple of Chris Rock's bits were in poor taste; MacFarlane's so in love with the sound of his own singing voice that he forced the entire audience to sit through a zany performance of "Here's To The Losers" after a show that ran three hours and 35 minutes.
Still, you can't call it the Worst Oscars Ever - or at least I can't - when so many of the awards went to deserving nominees. Argo for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay; Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln; Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress; Amour for Best Foreign-Language Film; Adele's "Skyfall" for Best Original Song - the first time a Bond film has actually won that trophy.
Speaking of Bond, the 50th anniversary of the 007 franchise was marked by an endless montage of the movies and a knockout performance of "Goldfinger" by Dame Shirley Bassey. No, it wasn't the parade of former Bond performers Twitter had been hoping for, but I can't imagine Sean Connery would deign to breathe the same air as Seth MacFarlane for any length of time. I'm still kind of shocked he roped Sally Field into that awful Flying Nun sketch.
I'm similarly un-thrilled about the wildly overrated Django Unchained winning Best Original Screenplay - though Quentin Tarantino's nakedly egomaniacal acceptance speech was one for the ages - and Christoph Waltz taking Best Supporting Actor for the good-guy version of the exact same performance that won him his first Oscar in Inglourious Basterds. (He's the best thing about Django Unchained, but even so.) And Jennifer Lawrence taking Best Actress for a supporting role in Silver Linings Playbook is more about the triumph of Harvey Weinstein's marketing machine, but she's the only element of that film I find even moderately tolerable, so I'll shrug it off. Jessica Chastain will get her shot someday.
This year marked the second time Steven Spielberg has lost a Best Director Oscar to Ang Lee; previously, Spielberg's work on Munich was trumped by Lee's on Brokeback Mountain. Here, it was Life Of Pi over Lincoln in several categories, including Best Original Score, which went to Mychael Danna (a Canadian, woo hoo!). Lincoln and Life Of Pi were early Oscar favourites, entering the race with 12 and 11 nominations, respectively; Lincoln won two (Actor and Production Design) while Life Of Pi won four (Director, Original Score, Cinematography and Visual Effects), but neither film won the night.
The top prize went to Argo, which went from a sure thing (it's a movie about the power of movies, just like The Artist!) to underdog (no Best Director nomination for Affleck! The Academy must not take it seriously!) to sure thing again (it's won every major prize from the DGAs to the WGAs!) in the space of five weeks. Argo also picked up Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing, so no one can call its Best Picture win a fluke.
Oh, and Affleck made sure to thank Canada in his acceptance speech. So can everybody please just judge the film on its own merits instead of getting all puffed up and patriotic about its historical perspective? If your problems with Argo can be assuaged by lip service from the podium, they couldn't have been terribly big problems in the first place.