Monday, February 25, 2013

Memorable Moments of the 85th Oscars

As you many of you know (since it was my highest viewed post of the year so far), I did a live blogging of the 85th Academy Awards.  I offered up many of my thoughts on what was going on during the awards show.  But that doesn't mean I was able to deliver everything I thought about what happened on the most prestigious awards show of the seasons.  Oh no, I have a few more.  Here are some of the significant moments of the 85th Oscars that I have some thoughts to serve up on. 

Argo pulls off most predictable shocker in history.   A film that did not have its director nominated for Best Directors hasn't won Best Picture since the 1989 picture Driving Miss Daisy won.  Only two other films with this distinction have won prior, Grand Hotel (1931) and Wings (1927).  When predicting the Oscar winner, you typically save time by discounting all films that don't have a Best Director nomination, because history is on your side.  This logic would make you think Argo was out the game, except most film critics realized this was a strong nomination field where the normal rules didn't apply.  This was one of the few times where every film had a possible chance (though, Amour, Life of Pi, and Les Miserables were huge outside chances).  But there was also another reason why we needed to ignore the old "Best Picture needs a Best Director nomination to win" rule, which was Argo won every single "Best Picture" equivalent at all the awards shows leading up to the Oscars.  It really was the heavy favourite, though the Academy is known for sometimes going against the other awards shows.  Even though it was the Apollo Creed entering into the night, there was that pesky statistic that made even the most confident gambler wary of Argo coming out on top.  But it did.  Everyone claimed "I knew it would win" after the fact, but deep down they were just a little bit surprised.

Ben Affleck shines during his crowning moment.  Affleck was also a producer on Argo, so he actually got to accept the Best Picture win.  His speech was eerily similar to a Best Director speech, and I think some perceive this win as a little bit like a make good on the nomination snub.  This victory is also the final wipe away of the past were Ben Affleck was the butt of the joke and considered one of the more overrated talents in Hollywood.  To be fair, that perception was killed years ago when he proved he was a hell of a director.  I've personally always found his work entertaining, though I've never seen Gigli.  This was the public acknowledgement that he is a mega force in Hollywood and one of the legitimate superstars of our time.  His credibility has been strong among film critics and buffs for a little while, but this was the moment his crowning became mainstream and universally accepted.  Affleck obviously was aware of that based off the type of speech he gave where he acknowledged how he was perceived in his past and also announced it was his time to move forward.  It was a classy speech, but also one where he got a delicious moment of knocking down his critics.  I became an even bigger fan after his words, and I'm going to continue to back him for years.  I think he has the great film mind and creativity to avoid slipping into the Kevin Costner career path (who to be fair, may be on the comeback trail as well).

The victors actually seem to be elated.  Ben Affleck wasn't the only star who was moved by his win.  Now, I'm pretty sure the technical people and writers and all the hard working but less famous are always touched and proud to win an award.  There are times that some of the more famous appear to be mildly perturbed they're expected to get out of their seat to make a speech.  If someone doesn't appreciate they've just been declared the best of the year then it is really hard for the audience to care about that win.  It is also a bummer to the nominee that would have loved the acknowledgement.  I thought it was incredibly cool that everyone seems really moved and touched that they were chosen as the winner this year.  Everyone actually seemed to be humbled that they were picked.  This is even more impressive when heavy favourites like Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, and Daniel Day-Lewis took their trophy with humility but also seemed ecstatic to be chosen as the elite of the pack.  It made me think that some of the top stars in Hollywood are pretty cool, and I've got faith in the future of filmmaking at this point.

Seth MacFarlane channels Family Guy and some people actually are shocked.  I wasn't really shocked by anything that MacFarlane did at the Oscars.  I was surprised by how many people were surprised that the host did some controversial material.  Um, he is the creator of Family Guy and the writer/director of the R-rated raunchy comedy Ted.  If he pulled a Billy Crystal then I would have been floored.  I just assumed he was going to drag out tons of dated pop culture references and serve up jokes that could be interpreted as racy or even sexist.  You only need to watch 5 minutes of anything he has produced to figure out his style.  "We Saw Your Boobs" was juvenile and only appealing to a specific demographic, but I also have to admit I chuckled and I'm still humming it while I work.  MacFarlane did effectively use a lot of his typical humour and I got a kick out of the Sound of Music gag.  He even threw out a few asides that showed his wit, such as the "Too soon" comment when people groaned over the Lincoln assassination joke.  But there were times he felt a little uncomfortable and I'm not sure if this type of show is best suited for him.  He definitely had jokes that landed like bricks.  I'd still say it turned out better than I expected, but as for the "controversy", it was the most unsurprising thing of the night.

The real greatness of the Jennifer Lawrence trip.  The big meme coming out of the Academy Awards was Jennifer Lawrence tripping on her ginormous gown when going up to accept her Oscar.  It appears some sites totally missed the beauty of what came out of the fall.  I think some perceived it as, "ha ha pretty big shot actress took a tumble".  But that isn't what made it so great.  That isn't even reality to be honest.  What made the trip so great was the grace and humility Lawrence showed.  She takes her small tumble, and instead of hiding it, she stays there for a few seconds on the stairs.  She soaks up the moment of her win.  Then when she gets her trophy, she actually makes a joke about her fall, essentially making sure everyone knows what happened.  She then continues to do her speech with passion and humility, and she seemed touched by her victory even though she is the next big star of Hollywood.  She doesn't act like the next hot thing.  I don't think a trip could ever make someone more lovable and endearing.  Jennifer Lawrence is a huge box office draw right now and one hell of a great actor, but she also proved she is an award winning human being.  This is what made the moment so special.

Jaws Revenge: Academy Awards edition.  It appears the great white shark is still bitter at failing to win Best Picture of 1975.  Every time a sound and tech winner dared to talk a little longer than the Academy deemed appropriate, the shark threatened to make an appearance based off his entrance music.  There were at least two times that I remember the music being played, and both times it was fired up when a relative unknown was accepting their award.  I'm pretty sure those speeches were actually shorter than a few of the actors' and they were definitely shorter than the Best Picture speech.  In one case, it was pretty clear the guy was very close to wrapping up and was just thanking people very important to him.  This is the only night that the background people in Hollywood get acknowledged for their huge contributions.  They'll never get fame.  This is their moment in the spotlight.  It is pretty classless to ruin that moment with the music from Jaws.  I'm sure someone thought it was cool and edgy, but it was stupid.  It is unfair that people who never get recognized can't just get an extra minute in front of millions of people, especially when they'll never have it again.  Affleck, Ang Lee, and all the hot actors will get countless interviews and chances to speak.  This is the tech peoples' one really big chance.  I realize this show is incredibly long, and that everyone begs for it to be shorter.  Those two speeches weren't what dragged out the night.  Maybe they should work on cutting down the lame comedy that is often attempted by the presenters, who usually are up there longer than the winner.  Or maybe we can live without one contrived show tune?  Anyway, it is a pity that the often ignored can't even get the proper appreciation during their supposed shining moment.

Will Quentin Tarantino's greatest destiny be his Best Original Screenplay victories?  Tarantino repeats as a Best Original Screenplay winner, and I'd say this would be considered a mild upset.  I am ecstatic that it won, because I stand by my belief Django Unchained was one of the best films of 2012 and the entire past decade or more.  The heavy favourite seemed to Zero Dark Thirty, and it felt like the Academy wanted to award that film something.  Django was the better script and one of the deeper and more nuanced stories in a long time.  I was proud Tarantino got his biggest recognition from the Academy since his Best Original Screenplay win for Pulp Fiction.  As Tarantino held his trophy high, I was left wondering if this was his legacy.  If the screenplay wins would be the best Tarantino could ever obtain.  I get a sense that he'll be nominated for more Best Pictures and Best Directors, but he'll never win the trophy.  I think he deserves to win.  I would love for him to win.  I get a sense his work is just too controversial and deemed too violent and profane to get the highest of film prizes.  In 50 years, there will be some writer who will look back and feel Tarantino was robbed and assume the screenplay awards were his consolation prize.  I could be wrong.  I think the Academy would need a huge shift in who votes before that can happen.

Onion fails at being even close to funny in tasteless Quvenzhane Wallis tweet.  This wasn't at the Academy Awards, but it did happen over in the world of Twitter during the show.  It caused a great deal of stir, and it should have.  Onion at its best is hilarious, and has done some really smart satire.  It has moments when it totally bombs, and offers up something completely unfunny.  Other times it does something borderline tasteless, but at least, it usually is saved by having a big dose of humour.  During the Academy Awards it posted a joke on Twitter that was outright tasteless and absolutely unfunny.  Wallis is a sweetheart and an acting prodigy.  Onion thought it would be funny to then call her one of the most derogatory things you could ever label a woman.  It is even worse when you realize she is a 9 year old girl.  Even though she is a celebrity, she is probably far too young to understand the joke and would take it personally.  Hell, I am still too young to understand how the tweet was a joke when aimed at a little kid.  Comedy is a shaky area, and many comedians have crossed the line in the past.  This was one of those times that somebody should have got a clue before sending it out to the public.  Someone should have taken a moment to think, "Is this even funny?"  Did anyone laugh at a sweet little girl being called a female lady part? Anyone?  I always was under the belief that comedy should make you laugh, especially if it is going to be offensive.  Giant fail, Onion.

What are some of the major memorable moment from the Oscars for you?  If you can't think of any, then feel free to tell me how wrong I am about my picks.  No matter what your thoughts were of the show, I think most can agree that 2012 was a great year for cinema.  Hopefully, 2013 can wake up and try to start working towards following in its footsteps.

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