‘Argo’ was picked out as an early favourite, then ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Life of Pi’ came along and started taking the spotlight. The lack of a best director nomination seemed to kill ‘Argo’s chances, but in the weeks approaching the Oscars it started taking every award going, and by the time it came to present best picture, it was obviously going to be ‘Argo’s year.
Other sure things in the majors included Anne Hathaway’s win and Daniel Day-Lewis’s. I did note that when presenting best actor, Meryl Streep also didn’t bother to even slightly pause for effect when announcing Day Lewis’s win, just as Helen Mirren hadn’t for his previous one.
It might be predictable, but no-one can honestly complain about Day-Lewis winning, his was the best performance. Anne Hathaway though, has reached that level of popularity now where the academy was just dying to give her an award. Frankly, I though this wasn’t her best performance of the past year.
Best director was between Spielberg and Ang Lee, both previous winners, but I didn’t know exactly which direction it would go in. In the end Lee got it, ‘Life of Pi’ is more of a director’s film than Lincoln is, and stunningly beautiful. I did have a major problem with it, but that was with the script rather than the direction.
The category where I really couldn’t say where it would go though, was the supporting actor one. While whoever’s name was read out wouldn’t have been a real surprise, it was nice that for once there was a category this open. Christoph Waltz took his second one, a mere 3 years since his previous win. He was fantastic in ‘Django Unchained’ but if one actor from it was going to win this award I would have chosen Samuel L. Jackson.
Likewise best actress wasn’t certain to go to Jennifer Lawrence, although quite likely. I still don’t think this girl is anywhere near to deserving all the hype she gets but she did give a good performance in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. This should have absolutely gone to Jessica Chastain instead though.
Elsewhere, screenwriting ones went to ‘Argo’ and ‘Django Unchained’. Having now seen it, I think ‘Cloud Atlas’ should have been in the adapted category, actually I’d like to have seen it win best picture and director too, but adapting that novel to screen posed a serious challenge. Quentin Tarantino has 2 Oscars now, I like ‘Django’ and didn’t mind him winning but it’s not his best screenplay.
Music; original score went to ‘Life of Pi’ – expected – and the ceremony’s most worthless category; original song, went to ‘Skyfall’. I loved ‘Skyfall’ and am happy that it’s an Oscar winner but really the song is nothing special.
Technical awards were split up (at one point for the same award (!)) between ‘Pi’, ‘Skyfall’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Les Mis’. I wouldn’t have given ‘Les Mis’ anything myself. Editing went to ‘Argo’ continuing the trend of sharing it with the best picture. This category in particular is one where, if a film does something really special in this department, it doesn’t get nominated. This year, ‘Cloud Atlas’ absolutely deserved at least to receive a nomination for its astonishing editing.
‘Amour’ surprised precisely no-one by winning best foreign film, I wasn’t a fan myself. I was delighted to see ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, one of my favourites of last year, take best documentary.
The award that disappointed me the most though, was best animated feature, which went to ‘Brave’. It seems Pixar are so beloved now that they are always likely to win this. ‘Brave’ was a sub-standard effort from them and while the favourite, ‘Wreck-it Ralph’, was better, ‘Frankenweenie’ and ‘ParaNorman’ were even more so. It’s a real shame to see stop-motion overlooked in this way.
As for the ceremony itself… it was pretty bad. I’ve never been a big fan of Seth MacFarlane and many of his jokes really weren’t funny, but some of the introductory segments were just as awful. I did find him to have a surprisingly good singing voice though.
The Musical numbers were the real low point of the show. Even MacFarlane’s musical celebration of celebrity nudity wasn’t the worst of it. Around half-way through John Travolta introduced what was supposed to be a ‘celebration of musicals’ that turned out to be a bit of ‘Les Mis’, then Catherine Zeta-Jones reminding us how horrible ‘Chicago’ was, followed by a number from ‘Dreamgirls’. Really??? Of all the ones available, are these the musicals you want to celebrate?
The ‘Chicago’ celebration continued later with the key cast reuniting. I would think that the academy should be hanging their collective heads in shame at any mention of the ‘Chicago’ debacle, one of Oscar’s lowest points in recent memory, and one of the only times when the top prize went to an actively bad film. It’s like them deciding to celebrate their failure to award ‘Citizen Kane’.
Almost equally pitiful was the 50 year of Bond ‘celebration’, which was introduced by the star of the worst Bond film – Halle Berry, and turned out to be nothing more than a poorly edited montage followed by Shirley Bassey singing ‘Goldfinger’.
Still, while the films awarded weren’t all my favourites by any means, there were mostly a decent bunch featured this year.