5 Things That Would Make This Sunday’s Academy Awards Not Completely Terrible

774 oscar 2013 voting 5 Things That Would Make This Sunday’s Academy Awards Not Completely Terrible

For those of us who harbor extreme ambivalence toward the Academy Awards and all they stand for, the Oscar ceremony this coming Sunday is likely to be a pendulum swinging between severe annoyance and cautious excitement. The whole concept of the awards is both noble and preposterous, best epitomized by the people who blast the notion of ranking works of art until they win an award and are suddenly humbled and gracious in their acceptance of the statue they once considered meaningless. Many, including myself on most days, decry the Academy Awards as a vapid evening of excess and self congratulation, perpetuating the myth that Hollywood is doing good in the world, validating stars’ fragile egos, and dear god I hope my favorite movie/director/actor wins!

It is therefore with tempered anticipation that I would like to briefly look ahead to the ceremony itself, the telecast that anyone who cares about movies and/or glamour will at least play in the background while doing something else. I don’t subscribe to the idea that these shows are about making history or hold any such significance whatsoever. I do think that they can be delightfully distracting for a night. Some years more than others. There are 5 things that could happen this Sunday that I think would make this year’s Academy Awards a memorable, enjoyable and resounding success.

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1) Argo doesn’t win

Argo1 5 Things That Would Make This Sunday’s Academy Awards Not Completely Terrible

To avoid offering more backlash against the backlash against the backlash etc etc, I’m going to forego making a case against Argo as a future Best Picture winner. People can talk all they want about it being a poor man’s Zero Dark Thirty, a piece of populist pulp unworthy of the prestige it’s being granted, a sad, sanctimonious grasping at straws by the Hollywood establishment wanting to remain relevant by elevating a movie about Hollywood heroism; this isn’t that interesting to think about while you’re watching the awards unfold.

What would make it great if Argo was upset, by any of the nominees, would be the surprise angle. For weeks now, all the speculation has stated that Argo is the frontrunner by a country mile. It’s cleaned up all the guild awards, dominated the press with the widespread presumption that it’s Argo’s award to lose, and it even has the award-swaying juggernaut of influence that is Roger Ebert behind it. Ben Affleck’s pals are pulling for him. That’s precisely why it would be such a treat to see someone else handed the Oscar statue this year. It would be the Yankees losing Game 7 of the World Series. The Patriots losing on the last play of the Super Bowl. The fact that virtually every other film in the category is superior would just be icing on the cupcake.

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2) Robert De Niro does win

Silver Linings Playbook12 5 Things That Would Make This Sunday’s Academy Awards Not Completely Terrible

As overjoyed as I would be to see Philip Seymour Hoffman win for The Master, for the good of the future of movies I really hope Robert De Niro is named Best Supporting Actor for his work in Silver Linings Playbook. This is one of the two acting categories, along with Best Actress, sort of, that is far from a lock. De Niro is considered by some to be the frontrunner, although Waltz has been getting an armful of trophies and Tommy Lee Jones remains a critical favorite.

A win for De Niro, though, would be enormous. The last time he won was in 1981 for Raging Bull, and that statue was enough to earn him about 10-15 years of good film roles. Then they started to diminish, and before we knew it he was the Meet the Fockers guy. A win this Sunday could potentially be a reawakening for a man who reinvented movie acting, who once turned in six of the greatest performances of all time in the span of ten years. It’s one instance in which the Academy Awards could possibly have a real and beneficial effect on movies for years to come.

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3) Daniel Day-Lewis does something offensive

Lincoln DDL 5 Things That Would Make This Sunday’s Academy Awards Not Completely Terrible

It could be Daniel Day-Lewis or Jessica Chastain or whichever star with a squeaky clean image (i.e. someone other than Quentin Tarantino), but controversy always makes for a good Academy Awards ceremony. It’s not quite the same when it’s from the person we expect, like Michael Moore in 2003, or from someone we maybe don’t expect but aren’t surprised about, like Melissa Leo two years ago. Day-Lewis is most likely probably, just because he is the one sure thing about this year’s awards. The shock of seeing someone else get awarded Best Actor is too unlikely to bother hoping for.

So the next best thing would be that he does something outrageous. We’re all expecting him to be the gracious, beautifully spoken, honorable man that he has been receiving awards in the past, but maybe, and this is a real outside chance, maybe he’s gotten lost in his next character, Joaquin Phoenix style, and he just acts like a total dick. Maybe he pretends he doesn’t know where he is or what’s going on. Maybe he says some lewd things to one of the female presenters. Anything would do. It’s also an award that will likely be given out late in the night, so it would provide a much needed boost to the waning hours of the marathon broadcast. We can dream.

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4) Anne Hathaway delivers her acceptance speech in sign language

Anne Hathaway joue Fantine dans Les Miserables au cinema le 13 fevrier 2012 portrait w858 5 Things That Would Make This Sunday’s Academy Awards Not Completely Terrible

She’s probably weighing all the options throughout the course of this week. Should I do something super cute like a gangsta rap? Should I be all “aw shucks who me?” even though I’ve won every other damn award there is to win? Should I kiss a stranger like Roberto Benigni? It was hilarious when he did it!

The best thing Anne Hathaway could do when she wins Best Supporting Actress would be to fight every instinct she has that tells her to go big and just go super minimalist. Restrain the excitement. Contain the nervous chatter. Subvert people’s expectations! I don’t mind Hathaway as much as many others, but she has the opportunity to win a lot of people over by doing something awesome at the Oscars. And not awesome the way she usually thinks the things she does on TV are awesome but like actually awesome. Maybe hold up written cards like Bob Dylan or something, I don’t know. But definitely end it all with the middle finger. That’s how you win hearts and minds.

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5) Seth MacFarlane is actually funny as the host, you know even as I write it I know it’s probably not even possible

Seth MacFarlane 5 Things That Would Make This Sunday’s Academy Awards Not Completely Terrible

I still don’t know how Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pulled off their incredible hosting gig at the Golden Globes last month so amazingly. Obviously they’re two of the funniest people in the world, but awards shows are traditionally a place where funny people go to take a break from being so funny all the time. Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres are all examples of people who are really funny in their normal, carefully crafted environments, but were total duds at the Academy Awards.

So hoping for another Fey/Poehler-caliber performance is out of the question I think. But you know, maybe just don’t suck. It’s possible. Family Guy is really funny. I’ve always enjoyed MacFarlane on those Comedy Central roasts. I’m thinking the best case scenario is that he works along the lines of Ricky Gervais at the Globes—brash, irreverent, giving zero f—s. That would make for an enjoyable show. Alternatively, he could make obvious jokes about how overlooked Ted was and do a bunch of sketches with the bear from Ted and then lament that Ted lost to Adele and Skyfall and just blow the thing. In which case, dear god I hope De Niro wins.

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