Now that the winners for the 85th Academy Awards have been announced, I thought I’d share some of my initial reactions with you all. If you DVR’ed the awards and do not want to know who won, stop reading now. Also, if you DVR’ed the awards prepare to pause/rewind multiple times when Jennifer Lawrence takes the stage for her award.
1. The Tie
While it wasn’t in a major category, tonight featured the sixth ever tie in Oscar history in the category of Sound Editing between Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall. This represented the only win for each film at the awards tonight (Not counting Skyfall‘s win for Best Original Song, which I maintain is more of an award for the artist than the film itself), leading to the reasonable assumption that the academy didn’t want either to walk away empty-handed (especially in the year of the 50th anniversary of Bond; a franchise notoriously spurned by the Academy)
2. The Uber-Split
Usually, the awards for Best Director and Best Picture go hand in hand. There have been many instances of Split Years, with one film winning the prize for its director and the other for the picture itself, but those instances are the exception and not the rule. Tonight, however, marks only the fourth time in history that a film has won Best Picture without even being nominated for Best Director. While Argo winning the big prize wasn’t exactly a surprise to most of us, it still represents just how strange the academy’s selection of nominees was this year in comparison to both expectations and the eventual winners.
3. The Musicals
While we’ve all come to expect performances of the nominees for Best Original Song at the Oscars, this year’s ceremony took many of us off guard with a surprise tribute to musicals including live (or semi-live) numbers from Chicago (“All That Jazz” fronted by Catherine Zeta Jones) and Dreamgirls (“And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” sung solo by Jennifer Hudson) and finally a marathon-style montage of Les Miserables, featuring live performances from the entire cast. I know what you’re asking and the answer is yes; Russell Crowe was there and damn it if he didn’t try his best. “A” for effort Russ! All this alongside performances by Adele, Barbara Streisand, Nora Jones and an unsurprising abundance of Seth MacFarlane musical jaunts made “Musical” the buzz word for the entire show.
4. The Surprise Presenter
The academy was keeping the presenter of its award for Best Picture fairly hush-hush this year, and when the moment came they did not fail to up the Oscar ante for surprise factor; the first lady herself Mrs. Michelle Obama made an appearance via Satellite Link to introduce the award before a seemingly intoxicated Jack Nicholson stumbled through the nominees. While her speech was definitely pretty liberal in its tone (I love that talking about our children and equal rights are now considered “liberal” in this country), I was very relieved that she kept the who thing very free of politics. Whether or not you like the first lady or her husband, I hope you can at least admit that it was a big, tastefully done moment for the awards ceremony.
5. The Laugh!!!!
One of Seth MacFarlane’s first jokes of the entire night was “Now begins the quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh”, poking fun at the aging nominee for Lincoln‘s stony faced demeanor during the Golden Globe Awards. You know what happened then? He Laughed! Not just smiled, he literally LOL’ed, prompting an understandable surprised MacFarlane to proclaim “Mission Accomplished”.
While there were more than a few surprising moments in this year’s show, there were definitely a few that nearly everyone saw coming from a mile away. Daniel Day-Lewis won an admittedly well-deserved award, making him the record holder for most best actor awards won by a single man.
Anne Hathaway won her first Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in Les Miserables, after winning the SAG award, the Golden Globe award, and god knows how much else for the part. While I still dislike predictability in any awards show, I stand by my complete support of Anne Hathaway and the progress she’s made over the past few years to legitimacy. I know a lot of people think that she’s smug, or artificially adorable, but this is an area I’ll respectfully agree to disagree with those people on. That being said, What the Hell was she thinking with that dress? This seems on the side made it look distinctly… ermhh… cold in there.
Jennifer Lawrence won her first Oscar as well for Best Actress in a Leading Role, which once was considered Jessica Chastain’s award to lose and now… well… is. Between Lawrence and Hathaway, the name of the game for this year’s female acting categories appears to be Young > Old (which is especially amusing considering Lawrence’s competition included both the youngest and the oldest women ever nominated for an Oscar)
Other expected winners included Anna Karenina for Costume Design, Skyfall for Best Original Song, and Life of Pi for Best Visual Effects.
The Proudest Moments:
The most pleasant surprises came in the following three categories:
1. Best Supporting Actor
While I didn’t even expect it myself, I really am glad Christoph Waltz won the award for the second time in three years (with the same director to boot). It was an incredibly strong category and aside form Alan Arkin, I would have been happy to see any of the nominees come home with the award. That being said, I loved Dr. Schultz more than any of them and it tickles me pink to see any additional recognition for Django Unchained.
2. Best Original Screenplay
Three years ago, Mark Boal and Quentin Tarantino faced off in this same category for The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds. In a frustrating decision by the academy, Boal walked away with the award that fateful night. This year, the two faced off again, this time for Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained. This time, however, the tables were turned as The Academy awarded the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay to Quentin Tarantino. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me in so many ways, not only because of how renowned Tarantino has always been for his sharp, distinctive writing style but also for the sheer originality of his work. Well done Academy, well done.
3. The Host
I know, I know, it’s not an award but I was extremely impressed by how well Seth MacFarlane held up for his role as this year’s host. I had hoped he would do well, especially seeing as he’d already proven his ability to perform live in his hosting gig on Saturday Night Live recently. While I fully acknowledge how stupid and simple Family Guy can be at times, you can’t deny that MacFarlane is an incredibly talented writer and performer. Sure, he crosses the line from time to time but anything else just wouldn’t be as effective in the comedy department. The fact that at some point in time, MacFarlane has probably made fun of more than half of the people in that room and he can still get a consistently positive response out of them is something that speaks either to the forgiving-ness of Hollywood or the simple power of comedy itself. Regardless which is the case, I look forward to seeing more from MacFarlane in the flesh as opposed to behind an animated character.
Let the Games Begin…
While none of you knew it, everyone of you out there in the blogosphere who posted your guesses for who would win at tonight’s awards are part of my non-monetary betting pool to see who is most in sync with the Academy’s state of mind. I will be announcing the winners of this contest soon, but until then I would love to hear your reactions to the ceremony itself in the comments below.