Ocscars 2013 - The Hangover

February 25, 2013
A thought by James Berardinelli

For those who weren't keeping track, I scored 15/21 on my prediction sheet, which is about par for the course. I missed Best Supporting Actor, Best Director (like many people), Best Animated Film (should have stuck with my first guess), Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, and Makeup. I don't have a lot to say about the actual winners except that it's clear the enthusiasm for Lincoln was draining away as we got closer to the date, with voters looking for an excuse - any excuse - to fete another film. Would Argo have fared as well if Ben Affleck had been nominated as Director? Would Ang Lee still have won that category? Questions we'll never have answered.

Biggest Non-Story of the Night: Ann Hathaway's wardrobe. All the hubbub about two nubs. Were those really her nipples or was it an artifact of the dress? This question apparently lit up Twitter. Who really cares? She's done enough topless scenes to make it irrelevant.

M.I.A.: All six 007s. The alleged "Bond 50" celebration turned into a brief clip show followed by Shirley Bassey singing "Goldfinger." To have no Bonds make an appearance was unforgiveable. This was the biggest Oscar fail in years, a slap in the face of the longest-running movie franchise. It would have been better to ignore it altogether than to "honor" 007 this way.

M.I.A.#2: Andy Griffith and Larry Hagman. Okay, so both of these men were better known for TV than movies, but they had their share of motion picture appearances. I'm an admirer of Andrew Sarris, but acknowledging him instead of Griffith and Hagman is just plain wrong.

The Old Kirk: One billion people saw William Shatner play Captain James T. Kirk last night. That's more than will see Chris Pine in that role in May. Shatner couldn't have come up with a better way to give J.J. Abrams the middle finger.

Boobs: A song after my own heart. Hey, they mentioned Ann Hathaway here. The Kate Winslet line was funny.

Speeches: Maybe the time has come to not allow awards recipients to say anything. We were blessed with two legitimate speeches last night: Tarantino and Day-Lewis. There's nothing more boring than listen to a winner rattle off a minute or two of names. I suppose that's easier than actually preparing a speech.

Crystal Clear: I'll probably get a lot of disagreement about this, but I think Seth MacFarlane was the best host in the post-Billy Crystal era. In fact, he reminded me of Crystal back in the early '90s. Some of the lines were sophomoric, but that goes with the time in which we now live. And MacFarlane didn't do anything too outlandish. I'd be fine with a return engagement next year, although I still contend that the Academy Awards don't need a host.

Whitewash: If the Bond "celebration" was the night's biggest dud, the decision to have Michelle Obama announce the Best Picture winner came in a close second. I might have felt differently if she was at the ceremony but inviting her via video link smacked of pandering. By having a divisive, partisan figure co-present the night's most significant award, the Academy took away from Argo's big moment and made it all about politics. Democrats loved it, Republicans hated it, and the rest of us were wondering what Michelle Obama has to do with movies.

Bloat: It's back. After several years when inroads were made toward slimming down the Oscar ceremony, the bloat was back in full force last night. I liked MacFarlane but was less than enamored with the show's producers. The musical montage felt odd, a little desperate, and poorly motivated. I've already expressed my feeling about the Bond tribute. Too few of the production numbers and sideshows worked. I'll confess that, because I started watching the show about an hour after it began, I was able to make liberal use of the fast-forward button. But even zipping through the commercials and a few of the so-called "acceptance speeches," it still felt long.

2012 was a great movie year - the best in at least a decade. It's too bad the same couldn’t be said about the Academy Awards celebration honoring that year.