– March 8th, 2013 by Ella Tucan –
Oscar night offers a few surprises
It seems like only yesterday I was throwing a half-eaten apple at my television screen when Meryl Streep won the best actress Oscar over Viola Davis, but yet another year of movie-going and relentless, mostly misguided predicting finally came to a close with the 85th Academy Awards ceremony held on Feb. 24.
Hosted by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, Oscar night was filled with surprises. MacFarlane opened the ceremony with a hilarious, irreverent, edgy monologue taking the usual jabs at the academy, the industry and its stars. William Shatner joined the host, appearing on a giant screen as Star Trek’s Capt. Kirk to warn MacFarlane from the future, “Your jokes are tasteless and inappropriate, and everyone ends up hating you.”
Despite the admonition, he was generally polite and respectful, making a very memorable host. Accompanied by Charlize Theron, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Radcliffe and others, MacFarlane crooned classy tunes “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Be Our Guest” and “High Hopes,” in an attempt to balance out the mildly offensive, crass, instant classic “We Saw Your Boobs.”
The humorous, taut thriller-cum-Hollywood satire Argo won for best picture, editing, and adapted screenplay, despite Ben Affleck’s snub. “The story was so top secret,” MacFarlane joked, “that the film’s director is unknown to the academy.” First Lady Michele Obama joined presenter Jack Nicholson from the White House to announce the night’s biggest award, and director-producer Affleck took the stage with George Clooney and Grant Heslov, the self-proclaimed “three sexiest producers alive.” “I never thought I’d be back here,” Affleck said, returning 15 years after his win for co-writing Good Will Hunting.
Life of Pi, Ang Lee’s delicate, dazzling, devastatingly beautiful meditation on survival, struggle and spirituality took home the most awards, winning for direction, cinematography, visual effects, and original score. “This movie was a beast to make,” cinematographer Claudio Miranda said in his acceptance speech, and Lee deserves the directing honor over predictions’ favorite Steven Speilberg for bringing a book that had been deemed unfilmable to the screen with such gusto and grace.
Spielberg’s Lincoln, leading the pool of contenders with nominations in 12 categories, won for production design and best actor. “I would argue that the actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth,” MacFarlane wisecracked, while the crowd groaned. “150 years later, and it’s still too soon?”
Daniel Day-Lewis made history on Oscar night as the only recipient of three best actor awards, winning for his incredible, insanely method performance as Abraham Lincoln in the Civil War saga. One of just six actors to earn three or more Oscars, he’s just behind Katharine Hepburn, the only performer with four. Accepting the award from presenter Meryl Streep, he joked they actually swapped roles for Lincoln and The Iron Lady, which won Streep the award last year for playing Margaret Thatcher. His was the best speech of the evening, funny, elegant, and to the point.
Jennifer Lawrence became the second youngest woman to win in the best actress category for her portrayal of the funny, foulmouthed, vibrant, volatile young widow in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell,” she said after tripping on the stairs to the stage and receiving a standing ovation.
The first award of the evening unexpectedly went to supporting actor Christoph Waltz. The actor, who won an Academy Award for his performance as the charming, gleefully brutal SS officer Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, received his second Oscar for the charming, gleefully brutal bounty hunter in the same director’s Django Unchained. The pulpy, profane, giddily gory tale of antebellum empowerment also won Tarantino his second award for original screenplay after Pulp Fiction.
Anne Hathaway won the Oscar for best supporting actress in the sprawling, splashy musical spectacle Les Miserables, based on Victor Hugo’s epic novel of revolution, romance and redemption.
Music played a central part of the ceremony, as the song-and-dance heavy show paid tribute to the musical insurgence of the past decade, marking Chicago’s ten year anniversary. Catherine Zeta-Jones performed, as did Dreamgirls’ Jennifer Hudson and the cast of Les Miserables.
James Bond provided another theme. British spy 007 celebrated his 50th anniversary on the big screen this year, and Halle Barry introduced a video homage to the franchise, while Dame Shirley Bassey performed the theme of Goldfinger and Adele her Oscar winning “Skyfall.”
The awards ceremony featured a rare tie in the sound editing category between Skyfall and Katherine Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.
Amour, surprisingly nominated for five awards, including for original screenplay, director Michael Haneke, actress Emanuelle Riva and best picture, won for best foreign language film, probably the only category that was effortless to predict.
Brave took home the award for best animated feature, and best documentary went to the buoyant, breezy Searching for Sugar Man.
Here’s to another great year at the movies.