Lights, camera, action! Recap of the 2013 Academy Awards

jennifer-lawrence-daniel-day-lewis-oscars-2013(2)There’s a certain magic about Academy Awards night in Hollywood. All the glitz and glamour of Hollywood is on display, and actors and actresses turn out in their best tuxedos and glittering gowns. The red carpet is rolled out, and everyone waits in hushed excitement to see who will win the night’s coveted gold statuettes.

However, in recent years, some of that magic seems to have faded from Hollywood’s grandest tradition. Viewership has been declining, as more and more television programs compete for audience members’ attention, and some have criticized the awards show for being out of touch with the average moviegoer’s tastes. Right or wrong, the biggest movie blockbusters of the year typically don’t receive many nominations, and viewers may not feel as emotionally connected to, or as invested in, the films that are nominated.

The Academy has tried various methods to boost public interest in the show, experimenting with different hosts and formats. This year, they generated quite a bit of discussion (and perhaps a bit of controversy) when they hired Seth MacFarlane — the creator of “Family Guy” and “Ted” — to host the show. McFarlane is known for his edgy and often raunchy sense of humor — not necessarily the tone you’d expect the Academy Awards ceremony to have. Due to the fact he was given quite a bit of creative leeway, I wasn’t sure what to expect when he took the stage Sunday night at the ceremony.

To be honest, I still haven’t quite decided how I feel about McFarlane as a host. Many of his jokes were genuinely funny — I loved the sock puppet re-enactment of “Flight” and enjoyed the joke about Ben Affleck’s now infamous snub for “best director”: “The film is so top secret that the film’s director is unknown to the Academy.” He certainly brought some unexpected touches: from an appearance by William Shatner as Captain Kirk to a sketch involving McFarlane dressed as a flying nun and skipping out on the Oscars with Sally Field. However, I think some of his jokes did cross the line and were perhaps a little too crude or offensive for this particular venue.

article-2284028-1841B1ED000005DC-531_634x877Still, I think that in basic terms of accomplishing the job he was hired to do, McFarlane was a success. The producers of the Academy Awards wanted McFarlane to generate buzz and increase viewership, and he appears to have done just that. Ratings were up this year, especially in the coveted 18-to-49 age category. McFarlane has proven to be a polarizing host — some people loved how he handled the ceremony, others hated it — but he certainly got people talking.

As for the ceremony itself, my favorite musical numbers were the rendition of “One Day More” by the cast of “Les Misérables” and Adele’s spot-on performance of “Skyfall.” There seemed to be a bit of a sound problem, and I couldn’t always hear Adele’s voice very well, but it was a powerful and thrilling rendition. Adele went on to win a much-deserved “best original song” Oscar for her James Bond theme. I also was glad the Academy included a Bond 50th anniversary tribute in the ceremony but wished they would have done more with that segment. I would have loved to see all the actors who have played James Bond throughout the years make an appearance during the ceremony, or at least maybe Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, as the first Bond and the current Bond.

This year, I thought the Academy had a nice mix of nominees for “best picture,” including several that have been successes with both critics and audiences. If the offbeat romantic comedy “Silver Linings Playbook” wasn’t quite your cup of tea, maybe the true-life spy thriller “Argo” or the historical drama “Lincoln” was your favorite movie of the year.

As always, there were a few surprises and snubs: Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”) and Anne Hathaway (“Les Misérables”) won Oscars, as expected, but Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”) lost the “best director” Oscar to Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”), and “Wreck-It Ralph” lost the “best animated feature” to Pixar’s “Brave.” I’m glad Ben Affleck’s “Argo” won “best picture”; I thought this was a nice gesture after his snub for “best director.” I also thought it was nice that Affleck acknowledged Steven Spielberg in his speech (Spielberg’s “Lincoln” was another front-runner for “best picture”).

Probably the award I was most excited about was Jennifer Lawrence’s win for “best actress.” Lawrence may be only 22, but she’s already shown a lot of promise. She brings an intense dedication to every role she plays, and she seems like a very down-to-earth, authentic person. I doubt this is the last time we’ll be seeing her up on the Academy Awards stage.

So overall, was this year’s Academy Awards a hit or miss? The three and a half hour ceremony seemed a bit too long, but I did like the mix of elements in the show — the humor, the tributes, and the song and dance numbers, especially Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum’s dance at the beginning of the show. Even if these elements didn’t always transition smoothly, I think this combination is a good formula for the show to follow. It’s nice to have a modern flavor while also honoring Hollywood traditions.

What did you think of the Oscars this year? What was your favorite part, and what was your least favorite part? What would you like to see next year?

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14 thoughts on “Lights, camera, action! Recap of the 2013 Academy Awards

  1. Jennifer Lawrence’s win was the moment of the night I had the biggest problem with. Compared to Jessica Chastain in ZDT and especially Emmanuelle Riva in Amour, Lawrence’s performance was very very lightweight.

    What it came down to was: (1) J-Law had the Weinstein machine driving her campaign; (2) Amour was something most Oscar voters didn’t even see; (3) Chastain had the whole torture stigma that plagued ZDT ruin her chances.

    Her win was incredibly disappointing.

  2. I enjoyed the show. I’m a big Seth McFarlane fan already, so I was expecting something unique and nerdy and he didn’t disappoint. He isn’t for everyone but I love him. If he had gone the entire show w/o mentioning Mel Gibson or Chris Brown I would have lost respect for him.

    I did not like the fact that the nominated song that he wrote was performed right before the category. I always find that somehow wrong. And I thought Adele could have sang with the orchestra like everyone else. which is why her sound was so bad. (Shirley Bassey schooled her in my opinion). And I could have done w/o the appearance by Michele Obama. (It felt like Captain Kirk was coming back) The Les Miz number was great but Russell Crowe was too loud in the mix (it’s hard to think that it wasn’t on purpose).

    I liked everything else. Charlize and Channing were awesome. As were Radcliffe & Gordon-Levitt. Really like the Captain Kirk opening. Because it gave Seth the excuse to open with harsh jokes have Kirk tell him he was panned… and the rest. I loved the whole idea. Showing both sides of his personality. Even Family Guy goes from toilet humor to show tunes and back again. And I really liked the little way station off stage for nominees in the category whose seats were too far away from stage. I don’t remember that from previous years. Maybe it’s just that I wasn’t drinking and noticed it this time. And having the orchestra in another building (Capitol Records Building) made the sound quality perfect– except for Adele.

    Thought the Argo win was an apology. They did the same thing to Spielberg for a while. DGA doesn’t like young directors very much. Rest assured he’ll be nominated and probably given the award for whatever he does next. (Like they did with Russell Crowe) J. Law and Anne made me very happy. Well deserved. I have a problem w/ the Cristoph Waltz win. He was amazing in Django but most of that was the fantastic dialogue of Quentin (who will win every year that Woody is not nominated) I felt that the field of nominees for best supporting actor was historic and it should have been given to DeNiro or Hoffman. And I also think that David O Russell was robbed for adapted screenplay and Wreck It Ralph was robbed for animated feature. (I hated Brave… still do)

    I haven’t seen Life of Pi yet, so I don’t know how deserving Ang Lee was but I know the directors that vote think that he has paid his dues and Affleck has not.

    I even loved the ending song with Kristen Chenowith & Seth. Really hope he changes his mind and hosts again after Tina & Amy next year. (Highest rated Golden Globes ever makes that a no-brainer) Good show.

    Sorry about the long comment.

    • “DGA doesn’t like young directors very much.” — but the DGA has given the award to directors under 45 years of age for the last three years, right?

      re: the Christoph win, QT said it best when he said in his acceptance speech that his script would be nothing had it not been for the fantastic actors that bring his words to life. I thought Christoph was great. Although I think that Leonardo DiCaprio deserved it more.

      It’s really difficult to stomach the Jennifer Lawrence when you have a performance like Emmanuelle Riva’s in that category. What a shame.

      • You’re right about the last three best directors before Ang Lee. But I’m still positive it’s a lack of respect. Maybe not youth as in age but youth as experience. Maybe it’s just looks. I don’t know. It’s a shame. Affleck has made three great films.

        Name a writer who didn’t thank his cast. Hell, or who didn’t use those exact same words.

        Haven’t seen Amour. Thought Lawrence was amazing in Silver Linings and it’s very difficult to measure performances & performers if they are not doing the same material.

      • Ang Lee didn’t win at the DGA this year, Ben did. So I think that shows that the director’s guild has respect for his work.

        My point re: Christoph was that, as QT emphasized, the words could only go so far. He brought it to life very vividly with great acting. It’s tantamount to your thoughts about the acting vs. the screenplay in The Master as we were discussing in your blog.

        I guess you should see Amour to judge for yourself. I just think Lawrence’s was a very lightweight performance compared to Riva’s.

      • My bad. I did say DGA when I meant voting Academy Directors. (originally) Sorry for the confusion. I meant that peers vote for nominations and snubbing Affleck wasn’t an Academy wide decision but just one of the voting DIRECTORS. And I put DGA. Which is not really what I meant. Sorry again for the confusion.

    • I loved the Captain Kirk opening also, thought that was funny and unexpected. I think maybe they still are waiting for Ben Affleck to “prove” himself, though I think we’ll eventually see him on stage to accept a best director Oscar at some point in his career. I was happy about Anne Hathaway’s win, also. She threw herself into that role and I think it was a much-deserved win. 🙂

  3. Overall, I thought McFarlane did a decent job. The Oscars have a real problem because lately whenever they choose an older host (Martin/Baldwin, Crystal last year) people complain that their schtick is dated, but when they pick younger, less proven hosts (McFarlane, Franco/Hathaway, Chris Rock) it tends to garner criticism for being out-of-step with the Oscars’ more traditional ceremony. Hugh Jackman is maybe the only recent one who managed to straddle the line between traditional and new. But anyways, I thought McFarlane had some unexpectedly stale material (Chris Brown jokes? Still?) and I would have liked a few more off-the-cuff reactions to things as they were happening, but he was charming and relevant and that’s more than I can say about the last three years’ hosts. I thought he really came alive towards the end while making fun of how long the ceremony was.

    As for the awards, I was really happy with the four acting wins. DDL’s speech was lovely and Waltz was a nice surprise. Also loved Adele’s performance and win.

    • I think Daniel Day-Lewis did have the best speech. 🙂 I think that ultimately, McFarlane did a good job as host. It’s definitely a tough job – trying to appeal to the audience at the ceremony and the people watching at home. Overall, he kept my interest throughout the ceremony, even though it went a little long.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

  4. No worries. Though it just goes to show how totally bizarre it is that he didn’t get nominated by the director’s branch of the Academy yet he won the DGA’s.

    The director’s branch of the Academy has only a few hundred members though compared to the 15,000 strong DGA. Those few hundred members are out of whack for not nominating Ben. Oh well.

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