85th Annual Academy Awards (2013) Oscar Recap

Were the statuettes bigger this year?

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but I spend most of my time watching the Academy Awards just waiting for something horrible to happen. Usually this means a bad musical number, horrible presenter jokes, bad sound, awkward acceptance speeches and/or a lackluster host. Impressively, none of those things reared their ugly heads.

Seth MacFarlane was a fantastic host for the evening, striking all the right chords by lightly roasting people in the room after a lengthy opening filled self-deprecating humor. Having William Shatner reprise his role as Captain Kirk to travel back in time to warn MacFarlane about his impending bad performance as host did seem a bit out of left field, but it was one of those bits that audiences either go with or reject completely. Overall, it seemed to work, but a more clever decision might have been to use an homage to Looper and have MacFarlane’s future self come back to warn him. Alas.

It’s doubtful that anyone will review MacFarlane as being anywhere near as bad as he joked he would be. He did everything a good host needs to do: Get everyone in a good mood, keep the mood going, and mostly get out of the way. He looked completely comfortable on stage, and his demeanor reminded strongly of Conan O’Brien. Even the jokes and bits throughout the night smacked of late night show humor, like the Von Trapp family gag, referencing the climax of The Sound of Music. Nevertheless, MacFarlane’s hosting abilities jelled well with the show, and I wouldn’t complain if he was invited back.

I was, however, disappointed in Adele’s performance of her Academy Award-winning song Skyfall. She sounded fine, but her stage presence left something to be desired. It was as if singing is so easy for her that even she’s bored with it. There was very little life in her performance, and she looked like she didn’t know what to do with her arms. It was surprising that Shirley Bassey outperformed Adele, even though Bassey stood alone on stage, without the aid of backup singers and musicians like those behind Adele.

It was also jarring to have Michelle Obama turn up out of the blue to help present Best Picture. Word of advice to politicians (and their spouses): It’s OK not to insert yourself into matters that aren’t related to running the country or state. If they start appearing on talent shows, like American Idol or The Voice then I think we, as a country, really need to evaluate what we’re hiring politicians to do.

Poor Jennifer Lawrence and that stumble on the steps. All of these months getting into impossible shape to fit these designer gowns, and they never bothered to practice climbing a short flight of stairs in their getups. Her acceptance speech for Best Actress was more prosaic than expected, and short to boot. I’m guessing that faux pas getting to the stage flustered her, and she forgot what she wanted to say and whom to thank. Or maybe she just never thought she’d win and didn’t bother preparing anything.

Say what you will about whether or not Anne Hathaway deserved to win Best Supporting Actress, but she definitely has grace and poise to spare, and I doubt I’ll ever tire of laying eyes on her. Also, she’s one of the few women who can pull off short hair so well. Throw Charlize Theron on that list too.

Overall, I was impressed by the evening. No catastrophes – though Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy’s presentation almost got there – and everyone looked good, especially Barbara Streisand. Whatever she spent to reclaim some of her youth paid off very nicely. But while the evening concluded with nary a hitch, I wonder if the show is even necessary anymore. Why not just announce all of the winners online all at once? Then the recipients can blast out their complete and uninterrupted acceptance speeches via social media. We can still have the glamour and spectacle of the Oscars by catching the celebs on their way to their respective post-Oscar parties. At the very least it would save us four hours of our lives.

Best Picture

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln–WINNER
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook–WINNER
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Best Director

Michael Haneke, Amour
Ang Lee, Life of Pi–WINNER
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Original Screenplay

Amour, Michael Hankie
Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino–WINNER
Flight, John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal

Best Adapted Screenplay

Argo, Chris Terrio–WINNER
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin,
Life of Pi, David Magee
Lincoln, Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

Best Original Song

“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice, music and lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted, music by Walter Murphy; lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi, music by Mychael Danna; lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from Skyfall, music and lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth–WINNER
“Suddenly” from Les Misérables, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best Original Score

Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna–WINNER
Lincoln, John Williams
Skyfall, Thomas Newman

Best Production Design

Anna Karenina, Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
Les Misérables, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi, Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Lincoln, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson–WINNER

Best Film Editing

Argo, William Goldenberg–WINNER
Life of Pi, Tim Squyres
Lincoln, Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables–WINNER
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Sound Editing

Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman
Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers–WINNER
Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson–WINNER

Best Sound Mixing

Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes–WINNER
Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Best Foreign Language Film

Amour, Austria–WINNER
Kon-Tiki, Norway
No, Chile
A Royal Affair, Denmark
War Witch, Canada

Best Documentary Feature

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man–WINNER

Best Documentary Short

Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart

Best Live Action Short

Buzkashi Boys
Death of a Shadow 

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained––WINNER

Best Animated Short

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”

Best Animated Feature

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

Best Cinematography

Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda–WINNER
Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
Skyfall, Roger Deakins

Best Visual Effects

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott–WINNER
The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

Best Costume Design

Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran–WINNER
Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell–WINNER