The 85th annual Academy Awards proved to be a night of laughter with more one-liners than meaningful statements. Host Seth Macfarlane casually strode the line between “somewhat offensive” and “Holy crap. He actually said that?” throughout the night, from the ode to female frontal nudity, “We Saw Your Boobs,” to his quip to 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis that it would be “16 years before [she] was too old for George Clooney.”
Minus the awards, the show itself was surreal. William Shatner (in classic Captain Kirk garb) demeaned Macfarlane from a giant television screen, Daniel Radcliffe, Macfarlane, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed a song-and-dance number of “High Hopes,” and Jennifer Lawrence fell up the stairs on the way to her award for Best Leading Actress (she handled it with much grace).
Besides the absurdity that ran amok throughout the presentations, it was a huge year for the Oscars. Life of Pi won in four out of the eleven categories it was nominated for, and in the acting categories there was stiff competition among the nominees. Daniel Day-Lewis took the Best Leading Actor award for his stellar performance in Lincoln, while Jennifer Lawrence (as I mentioned) won Best Leading Actress, edging out Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), and Emmanuelle Riva (Amour).
Perhaps the most incredible contest of them all was the award for Best Film. Among those nominated were Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty. All of the films have been met with critical acclaim, and so the winner was a toss-up. However, Ben Affleck received his first win since Good Will Hunting in addition to producers Grant Heslov and George Clooney taking part in the acceptance for Best Film.
The night was also full of musical performances that were all over the map. Adele’s performance of “Skyfall” (which won Best Original Song) was poorly mixed, as she was frequently drowned out by the band. On the other hand, Barbra Streisand’s performance of “The Way We Were” for the recently deceased Marvin Hamlisch was incredibly touching.
The night also marked the 50th anniversary of the Bond films, and to celebrate that, they put together a somewhat forgettable montage of Bond clips with a soundtrack mix, and afterward Shirley Bassey gave an underwhelming and quite flat performance of “Goldfinger.”
The Oscars had its laughs, and it was certainly entertaining to watch, but there were few moments during the program that had any amount of substance.