This year’s Oscar ceremony was at a huge disadvantage. Even those who love watching the Oscars found themselves feeling not the least bit excited about this year’s show. We couldn’t get over Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow being criminally snubbed for Best Director, and the Academy still didn’t give Christopher Nolan any love even after he finished his Batman trilogy with “The Dark Knight Rises.” We came into this Oscar feeling like the wrong people were going to be taking home those golden statuettes, and as a result the whole evening felt empty and lifeless.
So this year the Academy Awards wanted to do something new, and the producers looked more desperate than ever to bring in the younger demographic so that the ratings will look impressive for a change. After bringing back Billy Crystal to host last year, they decided to reel in Seth McFarlane whose best known for creating the animated TV show “Family Guy.” Now I really wanted to like McFarlane as he made one of my ten favorite movies of 2012 with “Ted,” but I got to be honest and say that the majority of his jokes fell flatter than that tire on my car which deflated on me in an area that had no cell phone reception. I mean really Seth, John Wilkes Booth jokes? You couldn’t say anything about President Abraham Lincoln being a vampire slayer?!
McFarlane had a wonderfully upbeat attitude about him and he seemed to be having a lot of fun, but many opportunities he had to create memorable moments fell completely flat and the audience responded more in shock to what he said than they laughed. Looking back, I wonder if James Franco was that bad of an Oscar host. It also doesn’t help that you have a former Oscar host, Hugh Jackman, performing live onstage that evening. Seeing Jackman sing his heart out reminds me of how great he was as the master of ceremonies. Note to self: if you ever host the Oscars, make absolutely certain that a former host doesn’t appear onstage with you. Odds are you will suck in comparison.
We should have known McFarlane was going to be in trouble when William Shatner (who’s currently bitching and moaning about J.J. Abrams taking over the “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” movie franchises) overstayed his welcome as Captain James T. Kirk. He joked about how he’s seen the future and that McFarlane proved to be a bad Oscar host, but that turned out to be more prophetic than amusing. McFarlane is a fine singer (better than Russell Crowe some will say), but singing about boobs didn’t quite work for him this time around.
This was an evening that was seriously short on surprises. Christoph Waltz took home his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in “Django Unchained,” but I would have preferred to have seen it go to Philip Seymour Hoffman for his masterful performance in “The Master.” Anne Hathaway snagged Best Supporting Actress in the film version of “Les Miserables,” but something tells me she’s about to endure a serious backlash for that whether she deserves it or not. Daniel Day Lewis continues his Best Actor Oscar domination with his more than expected win for “Lincoln,” and Jennifer Lawrence tripped on her way to the stage to accept her Best Actress Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Even Pixar continued their domination in the Best Animated Feature category with “Brave,” and that’s regardless of the fact that it is not one of their best efforts.
I was begging for a surprise, any surprise during this ceremony to wake me up and realize that the Oscars were actually taking place. The first one came in the Best Sound Editing category when Mark Wahlberg said it was a tie (and he made it clear that there was no BS about that), and it ended up going to both “Skyfall” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Coincidentally, this proved to be the only Oscar “Zero Dark Thirty” (my pick for the best film of 2012) got that entire evening. 007 on the other hand got a lot more love with this and Adele’s win for Best Original Song.
The other big surprise came in the Best Director category when Ang Lee stole Steven Spielberg’s thunder and took it home for “Life of Pi.” That movie proved to be such a visual masterpiece that it was astonishing to see it not sweep all the technical categories. It also served as a necessary reminder of what an endlessly brilliant director Lee is. Remember, this is the same man who gave us “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and “Brokeback Mountain.”
This year’s show was meant to be a celebration to music. As a result, it felt more like the Tonys than the Academy Awards. Did we really need to see musical numbers from “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls” this year? I’m tempted to say yes because Jennifer Hudson reminded us why she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but by the time they got to the number from “Les Miserables” it felt like I was watching a different show. Thanks for celebrating music, but in the end the Oscars are about the movies.
Then there was the “In Memorium” section which always proves to be the most moving portion of the show. The producers even took the time to acknowledge the late film critic Andrew Sarris and included narrations from the dearly departed which lent more meaning to their passing. But even with the appearance of Barbara Streisand singing a song by the late Marvin Hamlisch, the producers still have to explain why Andy Griffith, Ben Gazzara, Alex Karras, Gore Vidal and Larry Harman were missing from this list. Someone always gets left out, but this time it felt like dozens were left in the dust for no good reason.
By the way, wasn’t there supposed to be moment where all the actors who played James Bond appeared together on the stage, or did that moment just happen without us noticing it? Oh well, at least the producers had the good thought of inviting Shirley Bassey back to see one of the greatest Bond theme songs ever composed: “Goldfinger.”
In the end, this Oscar ceremony felt so depressingly inconsequential. It’s like it barely even existed, and I found myself getting far more interested in beating a Facebook friend at a game of Scrabble than I did in watching the show. In retrospect, I think I know how Renee Zellweger felt as even I had trouble keeping my eyes open. People are going to forget about this one really quickly, and by tomorrow no one will remember who won. That’s how forgettable this Oscar ceremony was.