The time has once again come for the Academy Awards, with tonight’s show hosted by Family Guy creator and Ted director Seth MacFarlane. I am not particularly excited in seeing MacFarlane on hosting duties, nor in this year’s awards, as they all seem fairly predictable as we head into the evening. But 2012 brought with it a very strong crop of nominees, and here’s hoping some good films are honored as the show goes along.
I will be live-blogging the entire event from start to finish – minus all the red carpet stuff, as there is only so much I can make myself interested in – starting tonight at 8:30 ET/7:30 CT/5:30 PT. I am in Denver, Colorado, on Mountain Time, and the show will begin at 6:30 here. For the sake of simplicity, I will be using my own local time codes, so do not get confused if my time listings do not match exactly with yours.
As for the actual procedure for this live blog, I know, just from personal experience, that some of the fancy live-blogging technology out there that some websites use if buggy for some users, and almost always works imperfectly, so we are going to do this the old-fashioned way: I will be writing my updates on the back-end, and you can refresh the page regularly and scroll to the bottom to see the latest entry.
So without further ado, let us get this thing started…
6:23 - All right, let’s get this thing started! I have just sat down for the show, laptop in hand, to bring you live commentary and updates throughout the night! Remember to refresh the page regularly, and if you see any issues, please sound off in the comments and let me know!
6:25 - Forgot how awful the Oscar pre-show stuff is. Eek. Kristen Chenoweth is usually kind of likable…but Oscar pre-show crushes everybody. Sigh…hope MacFarlane does better…
6:28 - One last commercial break. All right everybody, place your bets: Does MacFarlane open with a showtune? Does he recreate the “Shapoopie” number from Family Guy? Parody Les Miserables? Dance with a guy in a tiger costume to celebrate Life of Pi? We are about to find out!
6:30 - And we have begun! I will be back after the monologue with thoughts on the introduction.
6:31 - He really did make Tommy Lee Jones laugh! All right, MacFarlane gets props just for that. I know I said I would come back after the introduction, but that was a nice opening!
6:32 - Celebrating music in film…because…um…Les Miserables exists? Even though it will not win Best Picture? Anyway, MacFarlane gets off a good zinger on the Best Director category…though he only mentions Affleck. Bigelow was shut out too.
6:35 - MacFarlane doing better than I expected so far. Some nice jokes. Not great comedy, but I do not think ‘great comedy’ is possible at the Oscars. I’m fine with pleasant and chuckle-enducing, and MacFarlane is so good so far. His ‘zingers’ are hardly risky, but acceptable. His joke about Day-Lewis and method acting was a little flat – he’s working fast to hit every Best Picture nominee – and it’s a little disappointing the best he can do for Django is a Chris Brown/Rihanna joke and Mel Gibson voicemails. Like most MacFarlane pieces of writing, it is all over the map and has no clear coherent connections, but it’s fun. And here’s William Shatner…let’s see where this goes.
6:38 - So, Nimoy’s last performance as Spock was in the awesome Star Trek reboot, and Shatner’s last will be…at the Oscars. Hmm. That makes me sad. But it’s the Shat, and the ‘time travel’ gimmick is kind of fun, poking fun at the horrible musical numbers that usually open these things. And actually, this is one of the better Oscar songs…Question: Have the Oscars ever researched an entire segment before by browsing Mr Skin? I have to admit, deconstructing the ‘opening song’ format is a clever move.
6:40 - Hmm…I would have enjoyed this intro more if we just got the silly song and went on to the awards, but Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron dance well together. Capitalize on that Magic Mike momentum, Oscars! Capitalize!
6:43 - Sock-puppet recreation of Flight…okay, that is pretty great. I gotta admit, MacFarlane is funnier than I expected so far. This is a nicely scattershot, non-reverential opening. Not too ‘up its own ass,’ which a lot of Oscar openings are. And now we get Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing show-tunes! It’s just what we always wanted at the Oscars without knowing it!
6:47 - All right, I have no qualms in saying this opening is my favorite thing Seth MacFarlane has ever done. I don’t usually like his stuff, but this was the exact kind of silly, cynical, but still lighthearted opening I like to see at the Oscars. Certainly not perfect, or even particularly brilliant, but it made me laugh frequently, which is all I can hope for.
6:52 - Okay, now we have Octavia Spencer presenting Best Supporting Actor. I predicted Tommy Lee Jones, but let us see who wins. As Spencer says, an incredibly strong category. I would like any of these men to win, but De Niro and Waltz were my favorites. And the winner is…Christoph Waltz! Oh my God! That is an incredible surprise, and a very nice win! Completely deserved (even though he was in no way a Supporting Actor)! And Waltz, as expected, gives a wonderful speech, eloquent and honest and believably humble, using imagery from the film. Another sign that Waltz and Tarantino should continue working together for a long time to come!
6:58: - Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy are on stage to present the animated categories, doing a very unfunny bit about…something? Voice acting? I think? This is bombing hard, especially considering how funny these two should, by all rights, be. Ouch. Let’s do an award, guys, come on…Best Animated Short Film time. A very strong field this year, though I predict the incredible Paperman. The winner is…Paperman. Awesome! Very deserving! A technical marvel, and director John Kahrs gives a nice, pleasant, quick acceptance speech.
7:00 - Best Animated Feature category. My prediction is Wreck-It Ralph. The winner is…Brave. That is stupid. The Academy loves Pixar too much. Brave was an extremely disappointing film, and undeniably inferior to the other nominees. What a botch job. Oh well…
7:02 - I guess we are doing the ‘present the Best Picture nominees in chunks’ thing. Fair enough. I would prefer they just read the titles at the end of the show, but at least they aren’t doing them individually.
7:04 - Anyone else notice that the dialogue/music played for all three films was from the very, very end of the film? Kinda weird.
7:08 - Hey, guys, you cannot have all The Avengers if you don’t have Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth! Oh well…I love these guys, and they have fun presentation chemistry, nicely self-depricating and loose. They are here to present Best Cinematography. I am predicting Life of Pi, as is everyone else. And the winner is…Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi. Not my favorite, but deserving. He is clearly overwhelmed, but gives a very authentically emotional speech. I enjoy hearing from the technical people, especially cinematographers, and he gives some nice insight into the process before going on to the laundry list.
7:12 - Time for Best Visual Effects, which will also go to Life of Pi. And the winner is…Life of Pi! As expected. Not a huge fan of the film, but those were some nice effects, especially on Richard Parker the tiger. We get another nice speech, also with some insight into the process, but they get played off fast and hard, eventually getting cut off entirely. And I like seeing just how much Ang Lee is happy for his team out in the audience. He is an enthusiastic guy.
7:18 - All right, MacFarlane makes a misogynistic joke about Jennifer Aniston, and then she and Channing Tatum come out to give a nicely reverential intro to the Costume category. Not funny or insightful, but decent. Time for Best Costume Design. I am predicting Anna Karenina, I think, but it could go in several different ways. And the winner is…Anna Karenina! Expected, but I cannot argue. Very nice costumes. We get a pleasant laundry-list style speech, short and sweet.
7:20 - Time for Makeup and Hairstyling. This will go to Les Mis. Maybe Hobbit, but I can’t see the awful Hitchcock film winning. And the winner is…Les Miserables! No arguing there, though Hobbit was probably more deserving in this specific category. Everyone seems kind of scared of getting played off now, after the Academy brought down on iron fist on the VFX guys.
7:28 - Halle Berry is here to do a James Bond tribute, because she was in one of the worst 007 movies ever! She is reading off a pretty terrible script, but I am okay with the promise of some good Bond music. Sad they could not do more with this tribute than a kind of scattershot clip show. Rumor had been they might get all the Bond actors on stage at once, which would have been truly special. But we have Shirley Bassey on stage, singing the Goldfinger song, so that is surely something. Not a great performance, but I cannot complain. Great song, and it is neat to see Bassey singing it live…even though they probably should have cut it down. Not sure what the point of this whole tribute was. Why not just have Adele sing Skyfall and be done with it?
7:36 - Sorry for the long absence, everyone! My internet just crashed at the house, and I don’t know how well it will be from here on out. Fingers crossed, though. Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington presented Best Short Film while I was gone, and it went to Curfew. Winner gave a nice speech. Best Documentary Short Subject goes to…Inocente.
7:37 - Just want to say, Academy playing of the VFX guys was a very, very stupid thing to do, because every winner is now presenting fear about giving a decent speech. Terrible production. One-hour in, and MacFarlane has stopped being funny too. This show is starting to tank…
7:40 - Save the show Liam Neeson, please! He’s at least intense, which is kind of awesome. To the point, no bulls***. Neeson knows how it is done. Anyway, it is time for another Best Picture clip package, with Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty, which are sort of thematically tied except not entirely. I would have put Lincoln with Django Unchained, but to each bad Oscar telecast their own. These are three good to fantastic movies, and the clip package is a pleasant reminder of that. I like using the “true north” speech for Lincoln, but the Zero Dark Thirty clip really just looks like one of the trailers.
7:42 - MacFarlane is now giving out trivia to lead into a John Wilkes Booth joke. It’s only abrasive on the surface, guys. Not ‘offensive.’ And after some bad Ben Affleck jokes, and most incredibly misogynistic humor, it becomes clear he’s aiming for ‘lazy and conversational,’ not aspirational. This is bad, guys. Really bad.
7:45 - Ben Affleck is out to present Best Documentary Feature, and says some smart, eloquent things about Documentary filmmaking. Good presenter. And the winner is…Searching for Sugar Man, as I had predicted. Sad to say I did not see enough of these films, but it looked like a pretty strong category, and the filmmakers give a nice acceptance speech before rudely getting played off as they are talking about THE SUBJECT OF THE WINNING DOCUMENTARY. WHAT ARE YOU IDIOTS DOING?
7:52 - The lovely Jennifer Garner and stunning Jessica Chastain are out to present Best Foreign Language Film, and for some reason, Garner could not keep a straight face while Chastain gave a nice intro. What was that about? Anyway, Amour probably has this one locked down. The winner is…Amour. Duh. But deserving. Even Michael Haneke seems afraid of getting played off, though, as he just gives a laundry list, albeit with a nice tribute to his wife.
8:00 - John Travolta is here! Dance, John, dance! Save the show! Instead, he is introducing a tribute to musicals over the last decade (of which there are relatively few), and it is time for another clip show. Stop it, Oscars. We don’t need clips. You’re doing a live show. Get on with it. Anyway, real people finally come out, and we get Catherine Zeta-Jones lip-syncing “All That Jazz” from Chicago. It’s spectacularly awful. Anyone else think it is incredibly stupid to be building whole segments around musicals when the ONLY musical nominated is only a frontrunner for one major award? If you want to pay tribute, have Anne Hathaway sing “I Dreamed a Dream” when she wins. Don’t bother with all this filler. It’s bad. Really bad. And once Jones is done, it is time for more clips, this time of Dreamgirls, which also only won one or two awards, if memory serves. At least Jennifer Hudson knows what she’s doing. Damn, that woman can sing. Standing ovation earned.
8:04 - So, will any of the other Best Picture nominees get there own ten-minute segments? Because building all this around Les Miserables pretty much defines the term ‘bias,’ even though it has no shot at winning. At the very least, Hugh Jackman is singing “Suddenly,” which IS a nominated song, so it is relevant in a certain sense. And Jackman’s a great live performer, so there’s that. Rest of the cast comes out, each singing a line or two from their songs. It’s good – Hathaway and co. are great at what they do – but this amount of lip-service to ONE of the nine nominated films is just icky. Does not sit right with me at all. But we get Russell Crowe, who was my favorite part of Les Mis, so that alleviates it a little bit. Not much, but a little. This still makes me uncomfortable, especially when the singers get off-tempo and pitch from one another. Ouch.
8:10 - Chris Pine and Zoe Saldaña come out to the theme from The Next Generation. That’s wrong, but…whatever. It’s time for a recap of the Technical and Science awards, and Pine and Saldaña are doing a good job explaining it.
8:13 - MacFarlane ignores the fact that his film IS in fact up for an Oscar (Best Song) and introduces Mark Wahlberg and Ted the foul-mouthed bear to present some sound awards, while not talking about the importance of these artists at all. Yeah, paying respect to the nominees is overrated. Anyway…Best Sound Mixing time. And the winner is…Les Miserables, as expected. Definitely a great example of sound mixing (for making the live on set vocals work), and a deserving win. Happy to see it get the award, and we get a nice acceptance speech too.
8:18 – And once again, Wahlberg and Ted completely ignore the point of this category – Sound is important, people – to make jokes about Jews. This is awful. Best Sound Editing time. I forget what I predicted. Argo, maybe? or Skyfall? Lots of deserving nominees here. And the winner is…a tie? What? Has that ever happened before, in the history of the Oscars? What a crazy turn of events…anyway, the first winner is Zero Dark Thirty, and it looks like the winners will get to speak separately. First winner gives a very nice speech, albeit rushed, and the second Oscar goes to Skyfall. Well, I cannot argue with either winner – they would have been my picks too. The fact that this category resulted in a tie speaks to how disrespectful the Ted introduction was. These artists do deserve recognition – Sound Editing is crucial, and fascinating. Anyway, Skyfall winners also give a nice speech about their experience working on a truly wonderful film. And the winners get played off trying to talk about the importance of Sound Editing. The Oscars must hate movies. Only conclusion I can make.
8:25 - Time for more musical BS, this time a bad joke involving The Sound of Music. Oy. This is bad. But we finally get Christopher Plummer on stage – they should let him host some day – to present Best Supporting Actress. He is doing a great introduction. Take note, Oscars - this is how you pay tribute to the category. Anyway, Hathaway will be winning this one. The Oscar goes too…Anne Hathaway. Yup. Predictable, but completely deserving. I am so, so happy to finally see her with an Oscar. She should have gotten it back for Rachel Getting Married, but better late than never. Her speech is very nice, starting with a touching little exclamation of “It came true!” Lovely, lovely speech, honest and authentic and effective, even if it was not always coherent. But emotionally true, and the Academy did not play her off, so there is that.
8:31 - Academy President is out to speak about the Academy. Says they want to honor the past, present, and future of movies, even though they keep playing artists and filmmakers off. Hypocrite. He gives an advertisement for the new Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences museum, and then introduces some students from around the world.
8:34 - After some more bad jokes from Seth, Sandra Bullock comes out to present the Film Editing award. She actually explains the point of editing, but comparing it to meat butchery….is stupid. And then goes on to make it about herself and crack a terrible joke. Go away, Sandra. Please go away…anyway, I think Argo will win this one, but it is a good category all around. And the winner is…Argo. No complaints there – William Goldenberg did a whole lot of great work this year. He gives a nice, humble speech, but wouldn’t it have been great if he ended his speech with “Argo f*** yourself?”
8:39 - A gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence introduces Adele and ”Skyfall.” Neat! This should be good! And indeed, Adele brings it for what is, I believe, her first live performance of the song. Having a live orchestra on stage helps, but then someone at the mixing desk decides to effectively mute Adele’s microphone. What are you people doing over there? Geez….anyway, when we can hear her, Adele is doing wonderful, as expected. Though if I were her, I might have to go some bust some heads after this is done. Awful, awful mixing job. This has been one technically inept show.
8:44: So, just to recap: We have at least 8 awards, the In Memorium, another Best Picture clip package, and God knows what else…with only 45 minutes left? Oy.
8:47 - Nicole Kidman is out to introduce the last batch of Best Picture nominees, Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained, and Amour. Boy is she awkward at this. And I say this as someone who loves Kidman. But she’s been given a bad script, only scratching the very, very, very surface of the films – and Quentin Tarantino clearly knows this – but the clip package is okay. I like the picks of moments for Silver Linings, and the Django Unchained package is nicely evocative; using the Siegfried speech is a good choice. But once again…they keep giving away the endings to all these movies! What’s with that? Amour seems a bit harder to sell, but it is a decent clip pack too.
8:49 – Daniel Radcliffe and Kristen Stewart to pander to the 18-34 demographic. Radcliffe seems perfectly at home on stage, but Stewart is … um… stoned? Bored? Who knows. Anyway…Best Production Design. The winner is…Lincoln. Good! I liked the production design work there. The Hobbit probably deserved this one, but Lincoln is fine by me, and we get a really nice speech out of it. Really nice.
8:52 - After more xenophobic humor from MacFarlane, we get Selma Hayek presenting the Governor’s award. I am glad to see D.A. Pennebaker there. One of my favorite documentary filmmakers - Dont Look Back is a huge influence to me, but all of these men are extremely important, and I am happy to see the clips from the show.
9:01 – And we’re back! George Clooney is on stage to introduce the In Memorium, and does a nice, respectful job. I am glad to see the focus in this segment is on all the talent we lost, instead of a big musical performance…well, until Streisand comes out. In any case, a very reflective, respectful segment, one of the better Memoriums they have done in recent years. So, so many greats lost this year; very sad to watch, but it is also good to remember what these artists brought to the medium.
9:04 - I am not a huge Streisand fan, but I have to admit, this is a really good performance; easily the most fitting musical digression on tonight’s show. Glad to have seen it.
9:11 - More Chicago tribute? Why? Did MacFarlane just call it a ‘game-changing musical?’ What on earth is he talking about? Chicago changed NOTHING. At. All. Oy…anyway, it’s time for some more awards. Starting with Best Original Score. I am predicting Lincoln, and very much hope it wins, but Life of Pi is a distinct possibility. The winner is…Life of Pi. I am not a fan of this score, or the film, but…well, no but. This is stupid. I want Life of Pi to go away.
9:17 - Now it is time for Best Original Song. If “Skyfall” does not win, they need to retire this category. It is the kind of song that defines the purpose of this category. Anyway, we hear some song clips, and then Norah Jones is out to sing “Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted; I cannot dispute its nomination, as that song was easily my favorite part of that mediocre movie. Jones gives a very good performance, and once she is done, we learn that the winner is...”Skyfall.” Damn straight, Oscars. Damn. Straight. Adele, a pro at accepting awards at this point in her career, still tears up, but that’s fine. She always gives emotionally authentic speeches, and I respect her for giving Paul Epworth time at the mic.
9:20 - So…any possible chance they fit in both Screenplay categories, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Picture, and seven dozen more musical tributes to s***ty movie musicals in the next ten minutes? ‘Cause if not, I think we are going over time…
9:25 - After another bad joke from MacFarlane, Dustin Hoffman and Charlize Theron come out on stage to present the writing awards. Poorly. We begin with Best Adapted Screenplay. Argo is my prediction, but the Oscars clearly adore Life of Pi. It might upset, and then I would go scream into a pillow for five minutes to vent my frustration. My favorite screenplay here is Silver Linings. Anyway, the winner is…Argo. Good enough. It is a fine screenplay. Terrio gives a really great speech, very emotional, honest, and humble. He also pays tribute to the origin of the movie, which is truly awesome to hear.
9:28 – Best Original Screenplay time. Lots of good choices. Django Unchained is my prediction. But the winner is…Quentin Tarantino. YEAH! DARN RIGHT! The best screenplay of the year gets what it deserves, and Tarantino comes to stage for the first time since Pulp Fiction. My favorite winner of the night! Tarantino gives a good speech, paying homage to his fellow nominees and his actors.
9:30 - Aaaaand….we have hit the scheduled end time for the show. With four major awards left. Sigh….can I go to bed yet?
9:36 - Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas are out to present the Oscar for Best Director. Remind me of the logic behind putting Director before the Actor awards? Anyway, I predicted Spielberg last week, but I think this is going to Ang Lee, given how Life of Pi has been cleaning up tonight. And the winner is…Ang Lee. I have nothing against Mr. Lee – in other films, he really is a tremendous director – but this is not a deserving win in any way, shape, or form. His work on Life of Pi was solid, but it is a mediocre film. In any case, Ang Lee gives a nice speech, and I do enjoy seeing how enthusiastic he is for his work and his crew. “You’re the golden statue in my heart” is one of the best lines of the evening. But this begs the question…will Lee ever win Best Director for a film that wins Best Picture?
9:44 - Jean Dujardin is out to present Best Actress, one of the stronger fields at this year’s Oscars. I am predicting Jennifer Lawrence, who is also my favorite in the category. But so much good work this year. And the winner is…Jennifer Lawrence! Yay! I am so happy they got this one right, and it is awesome that she gets a standing ovation! She gives an expectedly excellent speech, and is her own unique, wonderful self throughout. Cool also to see Bradley Cooper in the crowd grinning like a maniac, so clearly happy for his co-star.
9:51 - Meryl Streep comes out, after another terrible MacFarlane gag. She is presenting Best Actor, another terrific field. Lots of great acting this year. But it will be Daniel Day-Lewis. No question. And the winner is…Daniel Day-Lewis. Did Streep even open the envelope? Of course the man wins – but he really was the best. The definitive screen Lincoln. The only thing that disappoints me is that he did not accept the award in full costume, makeup, and character. That would have been great. Anyway, he gets a much deserved standing ovation, and makes a bad, protracted joke about Meryl Streep, then about Lincoln being a musical. He finally gets back to giving a real speech, and does a reasonably nice job, even if his speech is pretty scattershot.
10:00 - Jack Nicholson is on stage to present Best Picture….or to present Michelle Obama. What? Michelle is awesome, but she has nothing to do with movies. I wonder if she even saw them. I mean, I wouldn’t blame her…she is the first lady…but this is awkward. Maybe they are just trying to add an air of unpredictability to this last award, which is definitely going to Argo. Or she is there to talk about “the children.” Which is odd, because none of these films are kid-friendly. Maybe Life of Pi, but definitely not Django.
Anyway, let’s see who wins. The Oscar goes to…Argo. Duh. But this was a nice emotional moment, a very good speech, and I am glad the focus was ultimately put on Ben Affleck, who really did get jiffed this year. A very nice final speech, and best of all, we learned Ben Affleck can speed talk like a pro. A really charming speech. Happy to see him win.
10:01 - Well, this was a disappointing show. Some nice acceptance speeches, but a bad show overall. I am off to write a full review of the telecast, before I have to hear more bad musical performances. See you all later!