Our latest holiday is just 15 minutes away — The Oscars out in Los Angeles.
Just so everybody knows, since it seems to be the most important thing in the world, I am wearing, “Jeans of Levi, A Hoodie by UConn, a t-shirt by Russell Athletics and Shoes by Timberland (and I don’t mean Justin).
I didn’t watch the entire pre-awards show — the all-captivating Red Carpet — and I am just jumping in for the last few minutes.
But what did jump out at me from what I did see ….
• Robert DeNiro forgot his comb at home;
• I was hoping there was going to be a head in that cage of surprise, a la the movie “Seven” rather than the ruby slippers;
• Jamie Foxx’s daughter is very beautiful, proving you can’t take the fox out of a Foxx;
• Anne Hathaway is beautiful, but she’s even more attractive with longer hair;
• Kristin Chenoweth is very short;
• Daniel Day Lewis can play anybody in the world except Daniel Day Lewis;
• Bradley Cooper brought his mother, but I have a feeling it’s not because he couldn’t get a date;
• Can somebody tell me why Daniel Radcliffe is in the house? Was Harry Potter nominated?
What I’m most looking forward to, though, is how Seth McFarland is going to do as host. I have a feeling he’s going to be as funny as all get-out, but perhaps I’m just pulling for him because he’s from Kent, Conn., and his grandfather is from Gardiner, Maine.
We’re just minutes away now so ….
PLAY OSCARS! (Sorry, I’m always too sports-minded).
• • •
And there’s the opening great line by Seth, referring to Ben Affleck’s being left off the Oscar’s Best Director list by saying the film “Argo” was so top secret that its director was not made known to The Academy. This line would also prove to be quiet prophetic by the end of the night, too.
And then he scored with the Rihanna/Chris Brown joke, saying “Django Unchained” was a date movie, but it appeared quite obvious that Hollywood’s greatest was going to be a tough crowd. Granted, the jokes about Mel Gibson fell flat, but Hollywood sticks together, so shouldn’t that be expected.
His quip about Daniel Day Lewis and John Wilkes Booth being the only people to get inside Lincoln’s head was funny, but after the crowd’s groan-action McFarland kicked it up a gear by quipping that “150 was still too soon?”
Bringing in Captain James T. Kirk was certainly funny, but did you see the look on Naomi Watt’s face during the “Boob Song.” Oh my.
Very, very uncomfortable opening act. Can’t help but wonder if it was orchestrated that way, in addition to being written that way.
Loved the sock puppets. And the joke about Denzel Washington being in all the Nutty Professor movies, though. McFarland has comedy chops, but he was certainly playing a tough crowd — one that still publicly supports Mel Gibson.
• • •
It didn’t take long for the Oscars to have its first surprise of the night, at least in my book.
In the Best Supporting Character category, it was Christoph Waltz who took home the trophy for his role in the film Django Unchained (and don’t forget, the D is silent). Waltz is a really good actor, of that there is no question. His role as a Nazi in the film “Inglourius Basterds” was brilliant and I suppose his role in Django has to be right up there. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I’m going by who I thought would win out of the movies I’ve seen). My vote — OK, I don’t really vote, but my guess — went to Robert DeNiro for his role in “Silver Linings Playbooks.” DeNiro was a great actor whose career seemed to hit a card-punching, money-making stretch that included all the Meet The Parents movies, but his role as Bradley Cooper’s Pop was one of his best acting jobs in a while. Plus, you can never count Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who is always brilliant, as well. They called this one of the most tightly contested awards of the night and I’m sure it was.
Soon after the first big award of the night was handed out, it became obvious that “Life of Pi” was on the verge of having a big night. It won back-to-back for Cinematography and Visual Effects and built some momentum. Knowing it had some big awards left to haul in made me start to think the movie might be living a “Life of Oscar” for the night.
• • •
OK, I’m not going to lie. The one thing I hate about the Oscars is the 621 minor awards that the show hands out, bringing forth people that nobody knows, but who are vital to a film’s success. Sound mixing, sound editing, make-up and hairstyling — you get that point. God bless the folks who work behind the scenes to make these movies so brilliant and enjoyable, but can’t The Oscars be the Big Six and pared down to an hour television show?
• • •
Now, as I mentioned above, I love Anne Hathaway as much as the next guy … Well, except, I suppose for her ex-fiance who fleeced all his financial clients from all that money a few years back, but I definitely think she is a good actress. She was also the heavy favorite for Best Supporting Actress, which she ended up winning for her 15-minute role as Fantine is Les Miserables. I saw both Sally Field play Lincoln’s Wife and Jacki Weaver as Crazy Guy’s Mom and DeNiro’s wife in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Both were very good and my vote would have been for Field. But you can’t go wrong with Hathaway. She’s that good and she can sing, too.
• • •
As a writer, one of the categories I actually enjoy that many people don’t care about is the writing categories. No arguments from me on any winners here — Chris Terrio for Adapted Screenplay in “Argo” or Quentin Tarantino for Original Screenplay in “Django Unchained.”
One of my favorite movies of the night, I think, was during a Tarantino’s rambling speech when the multi-talented Hollywood player said, “This is the writer’s year.” And it was. It was a brilliant year for movies and while the movies come to life through the work of thousands of people, it all begins with the written word on a page.
• • •
Finally, it was time for the big ones. Best director went to Ang Lee for “Life of Pi.” Haven’t seen, but have heard great things. I’ve never been a huge Ang Lee fan. He’s probably not even in my top 20 of favorite directors, but obvious he’s a very talented man. Coming into the “2013” Oscars, much of the news about this category was focused on he who wasn’t nominated (Ben Affleck with “Argo”) than those who were. Within 30 minutes, The Academy showed how wrong it can be sometimes when it honors those who had the best year because when “Argo” capped the night with Best Picture, the fact Affleck wasn’t nominated the Best Director was laughable.
Think about it — The best movie of 2013, according to The Academy, was directed by somebody who wasn’t even considered worthy of being in the top five directors. How can that be? Maybe you don’t win both, but if you’re directing the best movie, you need to be mentioned in the same breath as all the other top directors.
The Academy has had its share of oversights and black eyes over the years and this was just another one.
Affleck, in his Best Picture speech, was brilliant, though. He touched upon the past — his first Oscar along with Matt Damon for writing in “Good Will Hunting” — in perhaps the most moving speech of the night.
Another highlight from the big finish: George Clooney. He was the butt of “Good-looking” jokes all night long, but he passed on saying anything as one of “Argo’s” producers, showing he’s a man who doesn’t need the limelight to know what a success he has become in the business.
• • •
Finally, the Actors. Best Actor and Best Actress.
I went way out on a limb by predicting that Daniel Day Lewis was going to win Best Actor for his role as Abraham Lincoln. Only after I got out there on that limb and saw everybody else standing there did I realize he was actually a shoe-in for the award. This man is the most brilliant actor in my history — a three-time Oscar winner now — who in every movie is so different and so brilliant that it’s scary. His roles as Bill The Butcher in “Gangs of New York” or Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood” were incredible. Funny story about DDL, though. Way back in 1989, I was so pissed that he won his first Oscar for “My Left Foot” because he beat out what I thought was a brilliant performance by Tom Cruise in “Born on The Fourth of July.” Over the years since, though, Day-Lewis has proven me wrong. Though I still haven’t seen “My Left Foot” I am now a big fan of him and his process. And, needless to say, had he played Margaret Thatcher instead of Meryl Streep, he would have been brilliant. (Also one of the highlights of the show, too).
Then, there is Jennifer Lawrence. The Hunger Games stars showed her range by playing the young widow going mad in “Silver Linings Playbook.” She looked beautiful, and even graceful when she fell while trying to make it up those stairs in that dress, but I had to wonder if this really was the best performance this year. It was a good performance, but something was just missing for me. I heard one reviewer say she took a role deeper than it was written, and perhaps that’s the problem I had with it. I thought she could have taken it even deeper than that, so it didn’t live up to my high expectations when I saw it. I’ve heard Naomi Watts was brilliant in “The Impossible” and I know Jessica Chastain was pretty amazing in “Zero Dark Thirty.”
But, the Oscars have proven one thing over the years. I know nothing about the movies. I just enjoy the heck out of them, and in the end, that’s what movie making is all about, right?