In what critics are calling “the first and most original idea of 2013 or ever” I’ve decided to post a few of my thoughts on last night’s 85th annual Academy Awards.
For starters, Seth MacFarlane absolutely crushed it with the hosting duties, which is no easy task given that the über-critical media is just waiting to pounce on any and all missteps, real or imaginary. Also, keep in mind that we haven’t had a decent host for the ceremony since 2009’s festivities; last year was a past-his-prime Billy Crystal (whom I adore, but wasn’t great that time around…probably due at least in part to the fact that he was a last-second replacement for Eddie Murphy) and the year before was the dreadful Franco/Hathaway duo — she’s as bad at being herself as she is good at being other people and Franco just bounced back and forth between “possibly stoned” and “definitely stoned” the whole night. I thought Seth MacEff struck a great balance between deprecation of self vs. deprecation of others, and while every joke can’t be a home run (rough crowd to drop a Chris Brown/Rihanna joke on, I liked the Mel Gibson line but it was a bit passé, etc….though like any seasoned funny-man he recovered impressively and instantaneously) I thought the vast majority of his material was gold. And like it or not, I’m your male 18-34 demographic, so my opinion literally matters more than yours (18 trillion dollars of targeted advertising can’t be wrong). MacFarlane devotees already know that he has a passion for classic Hollywood (thus the soft-shoe numbers and old school pageantry of the opening performances) and if you’re smart enough to see through the boob-jokes, you’ll see a love for tinsel-town’s glamorous golden era that most of this generation lacks. Which leads me nicely into…
The musical numbers. Okay, so there were a lot of them. And while I’ve never understood the excessive love of the movie Chicago — which would really only be a mediocre musical without all the spectacular dance numbers, revealing costumes and all that jazz (sorry, I had to) — I’d always rather err on the side of more musical numbers than fewer. Most years I feel like the Oscars are “Big opening number and monologue, yada yada yada, last five awards” in terms of how well they hold my attention. Sure, maybe there’s a couple okay bits or decent presenters in between, but 2.5 hours of primetime television is a lot to “yada yada” given how pricey that timeslot is. Several people I know said (and tweeted and facebook status-ed) that at times it felt like the Oscars was becoming the Tonys, to which I reply: GOOD ON YA, MATE (hashtag Australian accent). The Tonys are usually very well produced (especially in recent years), very entertaining, and their only major drawback is that (relative to the entire world) very few people live close enough to Broadway to see/appreciate all the great sung and spoken works therein. The Academy Awards have the advantage of an international audience (domestic box office for most major films pales in comparison to worldwide numbers) and much broader relate-ability domestically, so what better vessel to showcase a small taste of Broadway to the world? I even liked the lady who did the Bond song (Goldfinger not Skyfall, though Adele obviously sang the hell out of her song, too), and I’m not generally a huge fan of pre-Daniel-Craig-era Bond nostalgia (if my buddy Nick Caruso ever read these he’d be furious I just said that).
Last and probably least, I was disappointed in the Best Picture winner (spoiler alert: Ben Affleck’s Beard movie…er, I mean Zero Dark Thirty Light…er, I mean Argo). I saw most of the Best Picture nominees (except Amour because I don’t have a girlfriend, which means I have no reason to watch movies with French titles…except Les Miserables…God I am going to die poor and alone. But I digress), so don’t get me wrong, Argo was a great movie…and if the Academy Award was for Fifth Best Picture of the year, Argo should definitely have won. But Best Picture of 2013 was Les Mis, Django, Zero Dark Thirty, or Lincoln, depending on what mood I’m in on that particular day, not Argo. Some theories claim that the Argo win was to console Affleck for (sidebar: how much do Ben and Casey Affleck hate those Aflac commercials?) not being nominated in the Best Director category, but my small amount of experience with the entertainment industry leads me to believe it’s not the conciliatory type. Maybe it’s different in the big kids sandbox vs. where I am, but the industry I’ve observed is more of the “kick him when he’s down and also set his house on fire and sell his pets on ebay when he’s down” sort of place, not prone to overt and non-court-mandated gestures of kindness. But what do I know? On the upside, at least Daniel Day-Lewis (hyphen, no hyphen? I don’t feel like googling it so here’s hoping I guessed right) rightfully won the Best Actor statuette, and the only injustice there is that they didn’t rename it the Best Actor of Ever So Don’t Anyone Else Even Bother award like they should’ve, because man, Daniel Day Lewis (no hyphen that time, covering my bases) is the Michael Jordan of acting. In fact, DDL is such a great actor he could probably play Michael Jordan in a movie and I’d still buy into it (btw happy 50th MJ, please don’t gamble away all your presents in a high-stakes poker game).
In closing, the Oscars were a lot of fun this year…and remember, if Ben Affleck can do it, so can you.
IMPORTANT (I thought that was more attention-grabbing than the usual PS): If you want to see how the master of masters delivers and Oscar monologue, may I suggest purchasing a ticket for the Johnny Carson express. Also if you want more of my thoughts on what Hollywood should or shouldn’t be doing with itself, check this blog on sequels I wrote.