Monday, February 25, 2013

20 Random Thoughts I Had While Watching the 2013 Academy Awards

1. Seth MacFarlane was looking so nervous and uncomfortable during his opening monologue until William Shatner arrived in time to (sort of) save the clunky routine. I wonder why nobody considered hiring Captain Kirk as host. Or why Shatner didn't stop MacFarlane from doing that terrible song about A-list actress boobs. I love the bit with Sally Field, though -- she looks 10 years younger -- and sock puppets never fail to amuse me, especially when one of them is supposed to be Denzel Washington, drunk and coked-up in the cockpit at the Flight wheel.

2. MacFarlane is charming and clean-shaven (the latter making him a rarity among guys on stage tonight), the kind of person I'd want to talk pop culture with, one-on-one, at a star-studded party. The Griffins on Family Guy, which he created, is my favorite TV modern family, and that Ted (the eponymous teddy bear lead of MacFarlane's 2012 directorial debut) is adorable. But did anyone even know what MacFarlane looks like before he was announced as the host of the 2013 Oscars? I keep wanting to call him Seth McFarland! Who were Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron hoping to lure by hiring him? Younger, hipper viewers? Was Jimmy Fallon too busy?

3. I'm glad they've done away with those unnecessary A-lister testimonials during the acting presentations and have gone back to just showing the clips.... And the first Oscar goes to... Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained -- just as I expected. This is his second Oscar in two nominations for acting in a Quentin Tarantino film. I wonder if this means they'll be inseparable going forward. Five years ago, most people hadn't even heard of Waltz. Now he joins Michael Caine, Jason Robards, Peter Ustinov, Anthony Quinn, Melvyn Douglas and Walter Brennan -- all legendary -- as a (at least) two-time Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner.

4. What's with A-list guys neglecting to shave and/or cut their hair? Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Hugh Jackman, Jean Dujardin (and several long-haired winners in the non-acting categories)... Few men look good with a full beard, except Anne Hathaway's beaming hubby (who could pass for a less-cute Ryan Gosling), dead U.S. Presidents, and Daniel Day-Lewis as dead U.S. President Abraham Lincoln -- and even Day-Lewis shaved for the Oscars.

5. Is it just me, or do the Oscars seem so cheap this year? From the awkward onstage banter to the old-fashioned set design to the bad Muzak version of "I Walk the Line" that plays as Reese Witherspoon walks onstage to the Jaws time's-up music during long-winded acceptance speeches, it looks and sounds only a few steps above the Critics Choice Awards. I do like the nominee slides and how they are designed to look like movie posters, though?

6. Why is MacFarlane doubling as the pre-commercial break announcer, too, previewing upcoming appearances from Channing Tatum, Jennifer Aniston and others (and not even trying to hide that he's reading off a teleprompter)? Shouldn't the guy who does that be heard and not seen?

7. I wonder if Liam Neeson (who was initially cast as Steven Spielberg's Lincoln) is kicking himself for dropping out because he thought he was too old for the part. At 60, he doesn't look much older than Daniel Day-Lewis, 55, and he's six years younger than Sally Field.

8. Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain are such an odd choice to co-present Best Foreign Film (which goes to Amour with surprisingly little fanfare). But then, they did both co-star in 2013 films with Australian Joel Edgerton. I bet Chastain is glad she's not the one who co-headlined with him in The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

9. Watching Jennifer Hudson this season on Smash and performing what is now her signature song, too (sorry Jennifer Holliday -- welcome to the world of joint custody), during the Oscar tribute to recent movie-musical nominees, I'm impressed by how much she's grown as a performer and singer since blowing me away with her version of Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New England" nearly one decade ago on American Idol (which promptly got her booted from the show the following night, by the way).

10. Adele's make-up is flawless (as usual), but it sounds like an off night for her. She's not even trying to reach any of those seemingly unattainable high notes she's become so well-known for. Overall, her performance is not making me care for "Skyfall" any more than I do, which, sadly, is not very much.

11. My friend Lori's sums up Kristen Stewart much better than I can amidst all the Oscar non-excitement: "She is the same on screen as she was just there on stage -- uninterested. And therefore, uninteresting." Exactly. And would it have killed her to run a comb through her hair before presenting with sweet, handsome (and clean-shaven) Daniel Radcliffe?

12. Here comes Barbra Streisand! Take it away, Lori: "Am I wrong, or is this very cabaret? She looks good, but her voice is very thin." I'm disappointed that she's making her segment of In Memoriam all about Marvin Hamlisch, though he did co-write the Oscar-winning song she's singing, "The Way We Were." And where was Donna Summer, the late queen of disco who sang the 1978 Best Original Song, "Last Dance"?

13. I really like Best Original Song nominee "Before My Time" from Chasing Ice. I wish Scarlett Johansson were around to sing it.


14. Best Original Song winner Paul Epworth just called his co-winner Adele Adkins "the best person I've ever worked with." Poor Florence Welch (from Florence + the Machine, whom Epworth has produced)!

15. I don't even know how to explain the Ang Lee Best Director upset. Either the Academy was really taken by the special effects in Life of Pi, or the members were effectively touched by the heavy hand of God -- which Lee wielded so mercilessly in the present-day bookend scenes. I'm going to go with the former. If it hadn't been for the visual spectacle -- the water, the CGI animals, the 3D! -- if Lee had just relied on story, the way, say, David O. Russell had to with Silver Linings Playbook, I wonder if it would have fared as well as it has.

16. Did last year's Best Actor Jean Dujardin go that gray in just 12 months? He would look more distinguished and less old without the beard. Maybe he's still going for the French George Clooney thing.

17. I hope this is the second of many years of Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars. She's so unpretentious and age-appropriate -- the opposite of Kristen Stewart. That she seems so young and awkward accepting her Best Actress Oscar makes her poise in Silver Linings Playbook all the more impressive. And I like that she acknowledged that Oscar day is also Emmanuelle Riva's 86th birthday (though it's too bad that the cameras didn't seem fit to pan to the octogenarian Best Actress nominee to show her response). Jessica Chastain so wouldn't have done that in her Best Actress acceptance speech.

18. I just remembered that when Daniel Day-Lewis won his second Oscar for There Will Be Blood in 2008, presenter Helen Mirren mock knighted him when he arrived on stage to retrieve his honor from the previous year's winner for The Queen. This time, he gets to accept from America's screen queen Meryl Streep, who last year won for playing another British leader (former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady). His joke about their switching Oscar-winning roles is cute, but I wonder why no one has ever thought to cast them both in the same film.

19. Best Picture: Argo, of course! Presented to two of People magazine's previous Sexiest Men Alive -- Ben Affleck and George Clooney, both bearded, as are ex-Sexiest Men Alive/Best Actor nominees Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper. Thank you, ex-Sexiest Man Alive/Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington and current Sexiest Man Alive/Oscar presenter/Charlize Theron dance partner Channing Tatum, for proving that you both deserve to be called Sexiest Man Alive by taking the time to shave.

20. Can they get Best Picture co-presenter (along with a very bloated, odd-looking Jack Nicholson, wearing what appears to be a homeless guy's tux) First Lady Michelle Obama to host next year?

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