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The 85th Academy Awards will go down as one of the strangest nights in Oscars history. Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron wanted to make sure the audience never ever forgot that Chicago won Best Picture a decade ago. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane managed to give viewers a relatively ‘clean’ version of his humor and a James Bond tribute probably wasn’t as good as 007 fans might have hoped. Of course, the real news is that Argo won Best Picture.
The night started off relatively well with MacFarlane getting interrupted by Captain Kirk during his opening monologue. It slowed things down, but it hit the nail on the head when it comes to Hollywood media.
MacFarlane introduced the show as the first ceremony to feature a genre, sticking with musicals. It was a good idea, especially with Les Miserables up for several awards (and won three), but Zadan and Meron seemed intent on making the audience think that musicals began with Chicago. Uh...no. We had Catherine Zeta-Jones sing “All That Jazz,” MacFarlane calling the film a “game changer” and the cast later presented an award. (Also, we have no idea what was wrong with Renee Zellweger.) Sure, the musical montage featured a killer Jennifer Hudson performance, but there’s a rich history the Academy has with musicals that should have been better represented.
Even as someone who isn’t a big James Bond fan, the tribute was a bit disappointing. None of the Bonds were there and it amounted to little more than a clip reel. Still, Shirley Bassey belted out “Goldfinger” as if she hadn’t aged a day and, later on Adele performed “Skyfall” to perfection. Adele’s on her way to an EGOT.
The memorial reel was also a little disappointing. It was pretty obvious from the moment the Academy got Barbra Streisand that she was going to sing “The Way We Were” for Marvin Hamlisch, but there were several stars missing. Where was Andy Griffith?
The Oscars also showed its funny bone by playing the theme from Jaws to end the longer speeches. The Gone with the Wind theme was used to try to get Quentin Tarantino offstage, but it didn't quite work and he kept going.
As for the awards themselves, the Academy really spread out the goods this year. Last year, The Artist won three of the big awards (picture, director, actor), but this year, no film won two of the big awards. Argo won Best Picture, Ang Lee won Director for Life of Pi, Daniel Day-Lewis won for Lincoln and Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook.
MacFarlane’s performance was about as good as I expected. That is, we had plenty of singing from him and snappy one-liners. Some fell flat, while others were good, but I think he’s got a chance at hosting again.