Monday, February 25, 2013

Oh, Oscar...

I used to love the Oscars. I used to live for the Oscars. The year the ABC tower in Decatur fell over right before the Oscars, my college friends and I drove to Kankakee (the closest place to Champaign-Urbana we could think of that got the Chicago TV stations) and rented hotel rooms to watch the awards we would otherwise have been closed out of. When my friend Melanie and I were stuck in the back of the room during a really boring history class, we used to entertain ourselves by listing, in order, all the Best Pictures from Wings on up.

And now... When Meryl Streep showed up to give out the Best Actor trophy, I had to head to Google to remember what she won for last year. Oh, dear.

This year's annoyance factor started on the Red Carpet. Just when you thought there could be no more annoying human being on the planet than Ryan Seacrest, along came Kristen Chenoweth, whose idea of interviews was to compare her diminutive stature to everyone who came along. Hugh Jackman, Queen Latifah, Adele, Bradley Cooper's mother... Yep. Kristen Chenoweth is smaller than each of them.

And just when it seemed Cheno had the annoying thing all wrapped up, Seth MacFarlane entered the building and blew all other contenders out of the water in perpetuity throughout the universe. Instead of Bob Hope or Billy Crystal, we're now stuck with the likes of MacFarlane, the unfunny plastic man with the perpetual smirk of self-satisfaction, the one who used his hosting gig to push his TV show, his movie, his album... He started out with a song about boobs. Keepin' it classy, Academy.

The highlight for me was the salute to movie musicals, and I thought all three of the featured numbers -- Catherine Zeta Jones doing "All That Jazz" from Chicago, J-Hud belting out "And I Am Telling You" from Dream Girls, and all the major players from Les Miz plus members of the current touring company (including IWU's Casey Erin Clark) going big with a rousing "One Day More" -- came off very nicely. I wondered if we might get to see some of Oscar's earlier musicals, however. Like Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey popping up for Cabaret. You know they can do it. Or even something from Mamma Mia, Moulin Rouge, Oliver!, Gigi... Notice no one said a word about Nine, either, even though Daniel Day-Lewis was right there.

I love Adele, the winner for Best Song, and she sounded fine on "Skyfall," the winning song from the James Bond movie of the same name. But the song itself? Kind of blah. In comparison, Shirley Bassey brought down the house with her rendition of "Goldfinger," a 50-year-old Bond song. Wowza. More Shirley Bassey, please!

In terms of the awards, I don't have any real quibbles. Argo was a welcome winner for me, as was Best Director Ang Lee. Life of Pi was a hugely difficult movie to make, Lee is lovely, and he's a U of I alum. Oddly, Argo also has a University of Illinois connection, since Christopher Denham, who played one of the Americans stuck in Iran, earned his undergraduate degree in Urbana, too.

It was a foregone conclusion that D D-L would win for Lincoln, that the omnipresent Anne Hathaway would take home the award for Best Supporting Actress for Les Miz, and that Jennifer Lawrence (at left) would win Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook. She looked lovely even if she did take a tumble. She can console herself that Barbra Streisand did the same thing back in 1969. And Barbra had see-through panels on her pantsuit, so... Somewhere Seth MacFarlane is cracking himself up writing a song about seeing Barbra's butt.

The only acting award that seemed up for grabs was Best Supporting Actor. Tommy Lee Jones was the early favorite for his role in Lincoln, although Oscar prognosticators have been opining that his cranky attitude at the Golden Globes was pushing voters away, helping Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) pick up his second Academy Award in that category in four years.

I'm down with Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio winning in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, but Quentin Tarrentino for Best Original Screeplay for Django Unchained over Tony Kushner and Lincoln? Well, it was expected, but it's still stupid.

On the fashion front, almost everyone looked great. I'd pick the three Jennifers as standouts. Whether she fell or not, Lawrence looked beautiful in her pale pink princess gown from Dior Couture, Garner (right) looked better than she has in ages in a purple Gucci gown with an insane number of ruffles down the back, and Aniston (below) eschewed her normal glittery beige towel look for a beautiful scarlet Valentino number.

Oh, and Quvenzhané Wallis was cute as a button in a bright blue dress with one of her trademark puppy purses as an accessory.

A lot of fashion pundits were picking Jessica Chastain and Charlize Theron as their top choices, but the former's dress blended in too closely with her hair and skin tone to appeal to me, while the latter was stunning, but the stiffness of her white gown, as well as the preponderance of white on the red carpet, meant she didn't make my personal, uninformed, non-fashionista list.

To see Theron, Chastain, and a whole bunch of other gowns and the glitter, and a few guys, too, head over to the Tom and Lorenzo blog, where you can see it all and voice your opinion.

So that's the Oscars. On to another year. Who will we be talking about in February 2014? Daniel Day-Lewis going for his fourth? Meryl back at the podium? More Spielberg and less Tarantino? Seth MacFarlane not even invited to attend? A girl can dream.


  1. As they said on the NPR live-blog, one welcome fallout from the MacFarlane event, for 3 people at least: the Letterman and Franco/Hathaway tries at hosting the Oscars will now be forever out of the running as Worst Hosting ever, and they can relax, knowing that future retrospectives will either leave them alone or look kindly on them.

    I'm happy about "Argo" too.

  2. We need Hugh Jackman or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for future hosting. I will accept no one else.

    MacFarlane really did set a new low. And the most depressing thing is that he seems so unaware, he probably thinks he did great. Ugh.

  3. The only thing which I would call illegal was Quentin Tarantino winning best original screenplay.

    Quite a serious crime, actually.

    Any of the other screenplays nominated were much better - as well as many which were not - including "Looper", "Arbitrage", "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and my very personal favorite, "The Master".

    But they never listen.

    Everything else was totally above board and legal in my book, including Seth McFarlane's hosting. I did not know that Babs fell one year and you could see her butt when it happened. This, to me, would make up for QT's win this year. And possibly for all past Oscar years.

    Just kidding. Seth was very rough. But, to me, not unforgivable. And Babs hit every note of her song. Which is saying something. But, unfortunately, she did not fall down so you could see up her dress.

    Oh well. Maybe next year.

    Django Unchained as best original screenplay, though?

    An Unforgivable Oscar Felony.


  4. I enjoyed your account! I think McFarlane was doing the post-postmodern deconstructed ironic Oscars.

  5. The New Yorker on Seth:

  6. Excellent quote from the New Yorker: "MacFarlane broke through that boundary last night, and suddenly the bitter asshole on the couch was up there on the stage, lost somewhere between a big smile and a sneer."