Seth MacFarlane was something of a gutsy choice, but also not all that surprising really. He's a talented singer, songwriter, comedian, and even apparently a great dancer, with a nice baritone voice and surprisingly a great sense of showmanship and a knack for performing. Yeah, there was that self-conscious bit at the beginning showing headlines of Seth MacFarlane's inevitable declaration of being Worst Host Ever, but this is to be expected, and indeed, today there was plenty of headlines calling him exactly that. However, I thought MacFarlane was great as a host. His jokes were as edgy as his musical numbers were classy. And even when he went too far into the offensive territory he remained warm and was snappy enough with his wit to keep the audience from booing. Plus, the comedy segments actually made sense, they actually hired a competent sound mixer this time, and the show seemed to have a kind of dignity that's been lacking for years now. Even wackiness like Captain Kirk appearing to introduce a hilarious bit about sockpuppets playing the movie "Flight" all worked well to keep the night from fading.
Now of course, MacFarlane wasn't a miracle worker. There was still the tradition third hour doldrums when I found my laptop and was playing on Reddit rather than giving the show full attention. The show moved at a brisk pace early on, but for a good hour did not have any major awards to give and focused too much on Governor's Dinners, Academy Museums, and very long musical numbers, eating my patience. However, for the most part, I'd say this is what the Oscars should be in the 21st century. And after the break, I'll discuss the night's most major moments:
* Kristen Chenowith, Glinda from the first-run of "Wicked", was one of the main Red Carpet interviewers. She appears to be half-squirrel in real life, appearing so short that even average-sized actors appeared to be eight-foot tall Greek demigods. Also there has never mean a human being so full of chirpy obnoxious energy, I think. She really needs to be in a David Lynch movie, she would fit perfectly in a film about the surreal decay of the world around us.
* William Shatner's Captain Kirk, apparently having survived that murderous bridge from "Star Trek Generations", appears via giant telescreen to warn Seth MacFarlane that tomorrow the entire world is going to hate him for hosting the Oscars. Which, considering the last seven or so Oscar telecasts, would be a perfect prediction. This is instead of the usual opening number, which typically are puns about the Best Picture nominees. Shatner introduced the best bits of the night, including a sock puppet scene that reminds me of my long-standing theory: the Muppets need to host an Oscars telecast one day.
* I thought the Flying Nun bit was going to be one of those traditionally awful Oscar bits, the ones that usually don't make any sense and are painfully unfunny. Last year there was that atrocious and painfully-long scene involving a test audience being stupid. However, the Flying Nun moment was saved when Seth MacFarlane drove Sally Fields off in a Thunderbird while "We're Pounding Down" blazed.
* Christoph Waltz wins Best Supporting Actor for playing Dr. Schultz in "Django Unchained". This was actually a big surprise for me, since I assumed this would go to Tommy Lee Jones. I'm not going to say that Waltz wasn't great in "Django Unchained", just that I thought his performance was too much like a good guy Hans Landa to be worth winning. As it turns out, the Waltz-Tarantino team are indestructible. Tarantino went out of his way to write Christoph Waltz into "Django", and in terms of Awards, it paid off.
* Am I the only one already sick of goddamn Melissa McCarthy? I see ads for horribly goddamn movies every time I go see anything. "Identity Thief" is awful. And her upcoming film with Sandra Bullock, "The Heat" had a Redband trailer so profoundly terribly that I had to fight back tears once it concluded. Plus, while she was presenting her awards, her facial pores seems so huge that I was thinking the award would sprout out of one of them.
* This guy won Best Cinematography for "Life of Pi". It was a very pretty movie, and fabulously shot, however... he looks like this:
Estuans interius ira vehementi, Sephiroth! Sephiroth!
* Best special effects guys for again, "Life of Pi" got overwhelmed by the "Jaws" theme and then got cut-off by the broadcast. Ouch, that was cold. I mean, yeah, they thanked about six thousand people, but come on, don't cut away.
* Shriley Bassey comes forth in the midsts of a James Bond montage to sing her classic Bond theme, "Goldfinger!!!" I absolutely love the Goooldfiiiiiiiiiiiiingah (BUMBUMBUM!) theme, so this was a real treat, even if Shirley Bassey's voice sounded a bit hoarse.
* Around ten o'clock the discipline of rushing through the awards broke down pretty solidly for a massively long trio of musical songs. It was impressive, but long.
* Ted from "Ted" appears on stage with Mark Walhberg. This effect was actually so good-looking that I wasn't sure if I was watching CG or a man in a suit or a fully-articulated Ted robot. He looked about ten times more realistic during this broadcast then he did in the movie. Turns out it actually was prerecorded CG, but pretty impressive work non-the-less, did you see how perfectly he climbed up that stool? Amazing. Also, somehow we got a tie in the Sound Editing category.
* Anne Hathaway wins Best Supporting Actress for her role as Fantine in "Les Miserables". This one was so obvious that even Seth MacFarlane joked about it during the opening. Honestly, Anne Hathaway's performance of "I Dream A Dream" is so completely perfect that there was no way she wouldn't be winning. It was easily the highlight of a mediocre movie, as raw acting power overwhelmed the audience, as Anne Hathaway managed to cry her eyes out and still hold a tune! Amazing. Sorry Sally Fields. Hopefully Seth MacFarlane will call you back.
* Kristen Stewart came on stage briefly looking like James Franco introduced her to the Pineapple Express. She was also limping. I know this is going to be a very dark joke, but what's the over-under that she's dead in the next ten years of a drug overdose? I'd be willing to put down ten bucks that she doesn't make it through the year. Also Renee Zellwegger can't read.
* Ang Lee wins Best Director for "Life of Pi" in a pretty big upset. I'm not going to say he doesn't have this coming, the movie was great, and his body of work is well-respected. So I won't. Congrats, Ang.
* Quentin Tarantino wins Best Original Screenplay for "Django Unchained". Yeah, his movies might be pure exploitation, but nobody writes dialog like Tarantino.
* Jennifer Lawrence wins Best Actress for "Silver Linings Playbook". Thank God it was the only award that movie won, and really Jennifer Lawrence was the best part about it. She's dressed up in a wedding dress, probably because she's going to marry... ME. SHE'S MINE, DAMMIT. YOU CAN'T HAVE HER, I CALL SHOTGUN ON DAT ASS. And she's so weak in the knees at the thought of my greatness that she fell over. Ouch.
* Daniel-Day Lewis wins Best Actor for playing Lincoln in "Lincoln". This means he's now officially a Triple-Crown Actor winner, and soon will be put out to stud in order to create a new generation of Method Actors.
* AND BEST PICTURE GOES TO............................. Oh god, is that Lady Obama giving out the award? Wow. They really went out of their way to make this thing succeed. Anyway, the winner is "Argo" just like everybody thought it would be. Ben Affleck gives the best speech of the night thanking the Academy for forgiving him for making so many bad movies in the early 2000s.
See you all next Oscars!
* Specifically "I thought the actor who best in the head of Abraham Lincoln was John Wilkes Booth!"