FILMMovie Reviews

Best Oscars ever, says everyone but Entertainment Weekly

Written by Andreas Babiolakis

MacFarlane’s wish came true! These truly were the best Oscars ever. They were indeed the best for him, anyways. I’m not sure about everyone else, really. Now the Academy Awards are over, and pretty much everyone who won an award deserved it. Daniel Day-Lewis is no longer a Best Actor winner, but is instead clearly just the best actor, as he is the only winner of that award three times, having beaten Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, and even Sean Penn. Okay whether or not he is the best actor is subjective and I am entirely biased, but isn’t it great to see someone with such absolute talent break this record? Isn’t it great to see Meryl Streep being the female counterpart of an actor that is quite easily her equal (which is NOT an easy task)? While Daniel Day-Lewis has solidified himself as a member of acting royalty, so did the newcomer Christoph Waltz, who before 2009 was relatively unknown and has now won his second award for Best Supporting Actor. Both of their acceptance speeches were touching and ever so thankful for those who gave them the film to be in the first place. Contrasting the classy, older gentlemen with their multiple wins were the youthful, excited first time winners Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence for their performances in Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook, respectively. Both looked stunning and were very well spoken, especially Lawrence who had to somehow distract everyone from her second slip up to get an award (she slipped on the stairs and luckily laughed it off, mirroring a similar incident at the SAG awards where her pants were falling down). And in typical Lawrence fashion, she successfully reminded everyone why she is a winner; She is downright lovable. She is a fun person, a great talent, and a breath of fresh air when it comes to the new actors under 25. While her win came a bit earlier in her career, Hathaway’s has finally arrived and she couldn’t have accepted her award more humbly, remarking on her husband’s role in her life as the most important thing in it.

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What smashing individuals!

In fact, almost every acceptance speech was remarkable, ranging from Ang Lee’s softly spoken words from his heart to Ben Affleck’s respect for his peers and where he has come during his career. There was even a rare tie between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty for sound editing, which just goes to show how fantastic most of the movies nominated were and just how close a year it truly was. The only surprise, Ang Lee’s win, was a nice surprise, and not one of unfairness, and in fact it’s exactly how it should have been and shouldn’t have been surprising at all. Apart from that and the tie, every win was pretty much expected even somewhat, so the winners this year were, for the most part, the right ones. The Oscars were great in that respect. What about the presenting? Was that something to write home about? Let’s start off with the presenters first. While some of the presenters did a great job, including the well spoken Jack Nicholson, Jessica Chastain and Christopher Plummer, a lot of the presenters had their own troubles. Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy, poster figures for modern comedy, failed excruciatingly with, what I really hope was improvised, nonsense. The Avengers line up following them were ten times funnier and they weren’t even supposed to be the comedic presenters there. Then you had Renee Zellweger’s clumsy return to the world with her inability to even read what was in the winner’s envelope, having to be saved by the surprisingly quick Queen Latifah (I’ve had gripes with you in the past, Latifah, but good on you. You did well). While Catherine Zeta Jones spoke well as a presenter, her lip synching was as awkward as a porcupine trying to sit on a waterbed, and thankfully it was saved by Jennifer Hudson’s show stopping hit from Dreamgirls that rose everyone to their feet (followed by a number by the cast of Les Misérables that was also quite spectacular for the most part). Then there was Channing Tatum, somehow quickly preventing Charlize Theron from slipping during their surprisingly wonderful dance number so quickly that it’s barely even noticeable (Tatum saving the day? It happens). That seemed to be the theme of the night: Disaster being saved.

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Saving the day, as per usual.

Seth MacFarlane felt the same way, as most of his opening sketch was about him trying to save his ceremony from being a disaster with the help of Mr. Awkward himself William Shatner. While Shatner is knowingly awkward, and that’s part of his charm, MacFarlane was unintentionally awkward at times and he knew it. In case you didn’t know, MacFarlane is actually quite a classy individual. He loves lounge music and plays a few instruments, he’s quite gifted and he’s just a cool, relaxed individual. His taste in humour is all we know him by, though, and that is where all of his filth resides. Naturally, his love for smooth musical numbers was shown, and sadly it was in Family Guy fashion: From out of nowhere. A few times, his random humour worked, like when a nazi barged into the building without a trace of the Von Trapp family (I didn’t see that coming somehow) and the final song number that reminded everyone, in a tongue and cheek and offensive manor, that everyone nominated is a winner regardless. However, most of his jokes, highly offensive in nature, are not for everyone, and with a show like this you pretty much want to win everyone over (or as many people as you can). His sketches and jokes felt like a great Golden Globes hosting gig with a bigger budget, but not like an Oscar gig. Also, is it just me or did Michelle Obama feel like a bigger Family Guy cutaway than anything MacFarlane did? She was not entirely necessary, or necessary at all. I’m sure her presence was lovely, but I don’t get why she had to, well, “be” there.

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The controversies around Argo seemed to magically disappear now!

So, look closely at the headlines he made during the show. Most of them dealt with how he performed. “MacFarlane the worst host” or “MacFarlane as an okay host”. The big winner at the end was “Best Oscars ever, says everyone but Entertainment Weekly”. Now, why was his duty as a host not mentioned? Was it because, deep down underneath all of his crass that he actually is a classy individual with a juvenile sense of humour? Was he someone that grew up too quickly in taste but never out of tastelessness? On the inside, is he just a bit of a goof with a sick sense of humour to let out any indecencies he has as a trait of his personality? Well, either way, he didn’t take credit for making the show the best. He just took credit for not making himself the worst host. The awards were great, some of the presenting was great, a lot of the ideas were wonderful, the sets were lovely, and while the 007 presentation(s) may have been a bit of a letdown (from a video presentation we kind of got to know too quickly, to Adele being drowned out by the orchestra, which she handled with class and grace), most things were pretty good. A lot of the presenters needed work, but some were wonderful. MacFarlane was either a success or a miss depending on who you are. His self reflective humour and his satire of how prestigious the Academy is were pretty well worked on. It all boils down to taste. Apart from that, the show went pretty well, and it’s another year until we can worry about offending people and witnessing awkward presenting yet again.

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We may never get a silly song about breasts again, though, but is that really a bad thing?

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About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.