Oscar night was pretty fun. Lots of great nominees and smart hosting by Seth MacFarlane made for one of the most enjoyable Oscar celebrations of the last decade. MacFarlane’s trademark irreverence was held respectably in check, while still managing to stay on edge and play with the envelope more than push it. He was a perfect host and I was actually dismayed when I first heard he’d landed the job. After all, he is so used to crossing the line, who’d have ever though he could actually toe it? But the showman he revealed himself to be really impressed upon me that Seth MacFarlane is a legitimately funny and talented guy. I am admittedly not a fan of any of his cartoon series, but I did enjoy Ted and now I promise not to groan whenever somebody mentions his name.
Speech, Speech, Speech…
My favorite speeches of the night start with Claudio Miranda’s acceptance of his Oscar for cinematography in The Life of Pi. He was just so excited about the film in the sense of the challenges it presented to him and his ability to meet those challenges and then be recognized for his success in doing what he obviously loves to do and pushing the limits of his creativity. The speeches were all pretty classy and uncontroversial. The night’s most awkward moments were provided by the presenters. I don’t know why, but many of their bits just fell flat. Melissa McCarthy foiled Paul Rudd in an irrevocable teleprompter reading. The Avengers assembled against RDJ in a moment that must have looked good on paper, but missed the mark much like many of the punch lines in Captain America. To top it off, I’m not even sure Samuel L. Jackson even knew what he was doing up there. Luckily, Jennifer Lawrence was poised and delightful even after a potentially embarrassing tumble on the stairs. Christoph Waltz was as cool as ever, Daniel Day-Lewis made a terrific speech and gave his wife credit for being the versatile one (living with so many strange men). Tarantino got to take a turn at the mic for his much deserved Django script. He was more terse and concise than I have ever seen him. Abruptly and simultaneously acknowledging his own genius, while crediting the amazing talent that brought his imaginings to life, then following up with a sincere pat on the back to all of the other screenwriting nominees. Argo won for Best Picture and Best adapted Screenplay and Affleck’s speech was terrific and loaded with subtext I wonder what was racing through his mind at that moment. It was such a unique speech. Possibly one of the most original and best. Screenwriter Chris Terrio gave a surprising speech of well-chosen words, praising the film’s subject and anyone who uses creativity rather than violence to solve problems.
Not many upsets for the night, but Paul Rudd’s jaw dropped when he saw the winner for best animated feature was Brave. I was devastated. The award should have gone to Wreck It Ralph for so many reasons, the least of which being that the job was at least three times more challenging and they told a better story. I even thought Frankenweenie was much better than Brave. I think Paul Rudd must have agreed.