Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: The 85th Academy Awards

Sunday February 24th the 85th annual Academy Awards aired. It's a night just about everyone who loves movies was looking forward to. And who wouldn't? The show typically has something for just about everyone. There's the red carpet with hit or miss styles all over the board. The show itself always has a great dose of comedy. For the musical people there's always at least a few musical numbers. And then chances are someone or a specific movie you love will win at least one of the awards which will give you the satisfaction an artist you appreciate got the just award you wanted them to get. This show is also met with a lot of controversy and by that I mean a lot of people whine and moan over who didn't win and how some people were overlooked, etc, etc, etc. I have a strong opinion and thoughts on stuff like that but that's for another post I'm working on.
The awards that aired on this last Sunday night, though, was one of the finest examples of the show that I've seen in years. After a few disappointing shows over the last few years I'm glad to see they got a spring in their step again bringing back a lot of the great things that make the show fun but also brought some freshness to the show. Enjoy as I go through each part of the show below:

The Red Carpet: I don't care about fashion or who is wearing who. I did watch this but it was casually. I enjoy the brief interviews they have that don't involve their dresses. Moving on.

The Host: You never really know what you'll get unless you've seen them host before. Billy Crystal hosted a ton of Academy Awards shows in the past and he was excellent and charming every single time. So when you saw his name attached you knew it would be good. This year was a surprise. I would have never guessed they'd have Seth MacFarlane host, let alone anyone like him. I always saw him as a lower peg celebrity. Granted Family Guy is wildly successful but mostly to teens and college students. He's hardly a household name, though. So I'm not sure what it was that drew the academy to him but I must say I am glad they did. He was absolutely hilarious every time he was on stage. And compared to previous years he was the god of hosting. I don't even remember who hosted last year but it clearly didn't make enough of an impression on me. And then a couple years ago when Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosted it was one of the worst shows I've seen for this tradition. So go you academy for picking someone so funny and entertaining. If anyone had doubt about Seth's talent, it was proven over the course of this 3 1/2 hour show.

The Introduction: One thing I've liked about the introductions to the Academy Awards was the fun video that was put together at the beginning. In recent years this involved humorously splicing the host into all the movies that are up for awards. Otherwise in older years they put together pre-recorded sketches or initial tributes to the awards as a whole and then it's off to the opening monologue. When I saw this year didn't have one but went straight to the opening monologue I was a little bummed out to be honest. But what came over the next twenty something minutes was something so hilarious and incredible that the show could have ended there and had the results posted online and I would have been satisfied.
So the opening monologue initially was really funny with some fun, clever jokes. One of my favorites being the Argo joke pointing out how it was nominated for Best Picture but not Best Director, "A movie so classified the academy doesn't even know who directed it." But then out of nowhere here comes William Shatner as Captain Kirk. The bit was that Captain Kirk went back in time to stop Seth from screwing up the show. A headline shows that Seth was the worst host in history. So of course he asks how such a horrible result came from this. Basically it came down to three specific events.
The first was a song that would offended all of the actresses in the audience. Basically it was a fast paced, Broadway-esque song naming and quoting all the actresses and movies they were in where we saw their boobs. This was one of those bits that had me laughing so hard I had to hold it in so I could hear more of the song. To explain it wouldn't do it justice so I'll just link it here. The next was a re-enactment of the movie Flight but entirely with sock puppets. This plays out exactly the way you would think but I'm gonna link to this one as well. Between those two I don't know which one I liked more because they both made me laugh about the same. Really, really hard. The last one didn't quite make me laugh as much but it was still pretty great. Basically Seth was backstage during the show and was, for a lack of better words, coming onto Sally Fields, by dressing up as the flying nun and expressing to her how much he adored the flying nun and even found it to be hot. After a brief back and forth they start making out and drive off in a call back to Smokey and the Bandit. I was going to link that one, too, but I couldn't find just that skit alone. You should be able to find the full opening monologue somewhere which would include that skit.. This paired with the "improvements" which were very impressive song and dance numbers made for an amazing opening that was pretty much a show in and of itself. The rest of the show couldn't top it in humor but the next 3 hours were still very entertaining and engaging.

Sideshows: The biggest hits or misses is the extra material that comes up between the awards. This is usually musical numbers, honoring someone in particular or a franchise, or banter at the mic before they present the award. This is also an effort to extend the show even longer which I don't feel is very necessary cause the show is so long as is.
This year had less musical numbers than usual. Well, less showey musical numbers than usual. It still had a lot of music just not the wild stunt type music numbers. I remember a few years back when they started having live performances for all of the nominated original songs throughout the show. That wasn't the case this year and that's okay. The song may be fit for the title but it doesn't necessarily mean it's fit for the show. What they did this year was a couple of the nominated songs (Skyfall and Everybody Needs a Best Friend) which were both great. Skyfall was a knockout performance and Everybody Needs a Best Friend was adorable as Norah Jones can be. But then they also had a performance to celebrate fifty years of James Bond where Shirley Bassey came out to sing Goldfinger (She was the original performer for the movie). However since Goldfinger came out in 1964 she has aged a bit and her pipes are a bit rusty. It was a rough song to get through and the same goes for when Barbara Streisand came out to sing at the end of the dead people list. For the most part the musical portions were enjoyable minus those two, I'm just trying to figure out why it was such an important thing to celebrate a decade passing since Chicago won for best picture aside from the need to fill in some time with yet another musical number. Oh, and they had a song from Les Mis where the major characters came out to sing. It was weird cause the voices kept getting better and better until Russel Crowe came out and brought it down a notch.
Another thing that is inevitable at these shows is the banter at the mic before presenting the award. I cannot stand this and I think it's obnoxious. It's weird cause usually these are good actors, sometimes award winning actors, but the crap that gets pulled off at the mic comes off as so cheesy and trying way too hard. I especially felt this way with Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy who are normally very funny people. Nothing much to note on it aside from me stating my opinion of it as a whole.
Since I've already talked about the incredible opening to the show and now have covered most else of what happened outside the awards there was still one more quick thing I wanted to mention. The reveal of the best picture award. In case you didn't see the broadcast, when the presenter came out for the best picture award we all saw that it was going to be Jack Nicholson. I thought to myself, "Awesome! I love that dude!" But then he introduced the actual presenter. Talk about upping the ante because they got Michelle freaking Obama to present the award via live feed from Washington D.C. How on God's green earth do you expect to top that in the future? Gonna get the actual President? The new Pope? Raise Ghandi from the dead? Maybe they'll just go with the 2Pac hologram if that's still exciting in the future.

The Results: This is what everyone watches for. They want to know who wins. Also everyone likes to make their predictions on these things which I did with my fam. My wife and I were at my parents house watching the whole show and beforehand we filled out a ballot with our predictions. In the end I wound up getting approx. half of them correct. Allow me to explain my choices and thoughts on the results.

Best Live Action Short
-Nominees: Asad, Buzkashi Boys, Curfew, Death of a Shadow, Henry
-Winner: Curfew

Best Animated Short
-Nominees: Adam and Dog, Fresh Guacamole, Head Over Heels, Paperman, The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare
-Winner: Paperman

Best Documentary Short Subject
-Nominees: Inocente, Kings Point, Mondays at Racine, Open Heart, Redemption
-Winner: Inocente

Best Documentary Feature
-Nominees: 5 Broken Cameras, The Gatekeepers, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, Searching for Sugar Man
-Winner: Searching for Sugar Man

Honestly I didn't see any of these. I took a wild guess at all of them for who would win and got them all wrong. Nothing much else to say on those. However there was a screening of the shorts at a local theatre that I could have gone to. But that was the same day I went to Zero Dark Thirty and I know I liked that more than I would have likes any of the shorts.

Best Costume Design
-Nominees: Anna Karenina, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman
-Winner: Anna Karenina

Best Hair and Makeup
-Nominees: Hitchcock, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables
-Winner: Les Miserables

Best Production Design
-Nominees: Anna Karenina, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln
-Winner: Lincoln

These are a few categories I can't say I pay a lot of attention to. I don't think many people do consciously. Obviously if the right closing and design wasn't chosen it wouldn't have the right look for the story, but I can't think of too many times when I was watching a movie and things felt out of place for these aspects. However for the ones that did it the best in their opinion I would for the most part have to say I agree with it.
The first one is something I find boring and predictable. It's almost never fails to have the Victorian period piece win the costume award. It makes it boring and uninteresting. I get that those would be really difficult to put together but does that period always deserve to win every single time? Whatever, good for them.
However I can say that I definitely agree with the choice for hair and makeup. Still haven't seen the movie yet but from the clips I've seen the look to the characters is pretty intense and fitting for the subject matter. I saw those shows of Hugh Jackman looking like garbage and Anne Hathaway looking like she's been through hell. Hitchcock appeared to be more-so imitation and The Hobbit looked about as good as the rest of the LOTR movies. Good but not quite outstanding. I definitely feel the right choice was made here.
Then lastly the production design for Lincoln was pretty fantastic. The look, the feel, everything was superb. Far better than The Hobbit which sadly had a bit of a fake look to it, a decline in quality from it's previous installments. Really the only thing I didn't care for in Lincoln was the style and execution in how Tommy Lee Jones and Joseph Gordon-Levitt looked. I wasn't quite sold on them. Otherwise great work Lincoln!

Best Sound Mixing
-Nominees: Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall
-Winner: Les Miserables

Best Sound Editing
-Nominees: Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty
-Winner: Tie between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty

Best Film Editing
-Nominees: Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
-Winner: Argo

Best Visual Effects
-Nominees: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi, Marvel's The Avengers, Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman
-Winner: Life of Pi

Best Cinematography
-Nominees: Anna Karenina, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall
-Winner: Life of Pi

The technical aspects of a film is something I do tend to pay more attention to. You usually can tell if a film did these parts right because you find yourself not thinking about the technical portions and believing what is happening on screen. Some of these I tend to notice more than others, but I do have a few things to say on these like everything else here.
Sound mixing and editing is something I can't say I have a strong opinion about. When it comes to sound I mostly pay attention to the music but can appreciate the sound that comes through as well. However I tend to not notice it unless it stands out to me pretty strongly in one direction or another. Otherwise I felt that Skyfall had well put together sound as well as Zero Dark Thirty. Glad to see they both got an award but I feel it's a bit of B.S. that there was a tie. I mean, seriously? You'd think they'd have a tie breaker of some kind. And this isn't even one of the bigger awards where it would be a bigger deal if there was a tie. This is a technical aspect. Would it really have been that hard to pick one over the other when you already have to select one out of nine films to say was the best overall?
Film editing is another thing can really can make or break a film so it is very important. Linger on something too long may make the film feel awkward and have a strange, maybe slower than it should be pacing to it. At the same time if all you do is quick cuts then it gets confusing and dizzying. So believe it or not there's more to the art than simply putting it all together. You've got to know where to cut everything. I didn't care for a lot of Argo's cinematography because it had far too many extreme closeup shots that seem to be taking Hollywood by storm as of recent years, but I do remember it was all pieced together to keep it exciting. Well done.
Visual effects I imagine picked the right one. Again since I haven't seen Life of Pi I can't properly judge it, but damn does that tiger look good in those clips. In terms of the rest they all looked good but not substantially good. I felt The Hobbit didn't look much different than the previous LOTR movies released almost a decade ago. The Avengers looked great but was also plagued with a few too many instances of things looking computery. Then Prometheus was more of the same. Did look great and had some awesome organic effects, yet it didn't quite cut the mustard in the long run. Lots of instances where the visuals were a bit off.
What I say for cinematography will be similar to what I've already talked about. Skyfall was framed well but had similar problems that a lot of action movies these day have, shot in a way that is hard to tell what's going on (Especially the night shots in China). And again, haven't seen the other ones so I'll have to take their word for it.

Best Animated Film
-Nominees: Brave, Frankenweenie, Paranorman, Pirates: Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph
-Winner: Brave

I was really happy to see this win. This is one of the very few categories where I had a strong opinion about who would win and I am so glad that Brave won. I adored Brave. There's something about Pixar that I felt with Brave but didn't with a lot of their other movies. Outside of Toy Story 1, 2, and 3, Pixar's movies have entertained me but I've never been nuts about them. They were just missing something I felt or weren't doing something quite right to tickle my fancy. I'm not sure what it was about Brave but it grabbed a hold of me and didn't let go. I loved every minute of it and sure enjoyed it more than any of the other nominees (Minus Wreck-It Ralph, I can't judge that one because I haven't seen it yet).
But in terms of who would win, wasn't it obvious? Unless there's a unique project that is a total knockout with the critics (i.e. when Spirited Away won many years back) it's almost always guaranteed it'll be the Disney or Pixar. Every so often you'll see an Ice Age or Shrek nominated but I feel those are more token entries. At least this year had five legitimate entries that all (as far as I can tell) deserve to be there because they were that good in their field. Oh, and may I point out that three out of the five were done via old school stop motion. That's something, too.

Best Foreign Language Film
-Nominees: Amour (Austria), Kon-Tiki (Norway), No (Chile), A Royal Affair (Denmark), War Witch (Canada)
-Winner: Amour

This wasn't even fair. Amour was nominated for best picture of the year. Who did you think would win? And if something else won then why is Amour on the top of the year list?

Best Original Score
-Nominees: Anna Karenina, Argo, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Skyfall
-Winner: Life of Pi

Best Original Song
-Nominees: Before My Time from Chasing Ice by J. Ralph, Everybody Needs a Best Friend from Ted by Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane, Pi's Lullaby from Life of Pi by Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri, Suddenly from Les Miserables by Claude-Michel Schonberg + Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil, Skyfall from Skyfall by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
-Winner: Skyfall

This is the technical part I really get into. It is very noticeable when the music isn't right for a story. I don't have a whole lot to say about the original score, mostly because I remember Argo having a bunch of snippets of songs from that era, and Skyfall I don't remember the score because all I can think of is the theme song.
That brings me to the song Skyfall. I am so happy this song won. I have never enjoyed a Bond theme song more than this one. It gets my blood pumping ready for a good old Bond adventure. When Adele performed the song at the ceremony I turned to my wife and said, "I wanna go out, buy that movie, and watch it tonight because I want to see it again so bad right now!" To me that song defines that movie. The rest of it is fantastic but to me that song alone helps raise the movie itself to another level. I love Skyfall, the movie and the song.

Best Supporting Actress
-Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
-Winner: Anne Hathaway

Best Supporting Actor
-Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
-Winner: Christoph Waltz

Outside of Lincoln where Sally Field did do a knockout job I haven't seen any of the other performances. It does look like Anne Hathaway kills in her performance in Les Miserable so I'll take their word for it. No real opinion on that one.
But for best supporting actor I do. What I came to notice with some of these categories is that there are plenty of good actors being nominated but most give very similar performances in most movies with the exception of one actor who stands out among the rest because of their range of acting. I like Alan Arkin, Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman and I'm sure they all did a great job (Alan Arkin was fantastic!). Tommy Lee Jones I have mixed feelings about because of all these nominees I feel he's the most samey. But Christoph Waltz is an amazing actor. Even in Water for Elephants which may or may not be your cup of tea he played a superb villain. He's the type of guy who takes his roles far more seriously than most and it really shows in his performances. Nice work Christoph, I haven't even seen Django Unchained yet but I already know you deserved this award.
Best Original Screenplay
-Nominees: Amour by Michael Haneke, Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino, Flight by John Gatins, Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Zero Dark Thirty by Mark Boal
-Winner: Django Unchained

So I realize I haven't seen Django Unchained yet but I've got to say that I was really bummed out when Moonrise Kingdom didn't win this one. Wes Anderson is a brilliant filmmaker whose characters are at times much better than what Tarantino puts together. Wes' characters I feel tend to offer a lot more variety than the samey quirky/violent characters that Tarantino has. Moonrise Kingdom in this example has an awesome story about a couple of young kids who become infatuated with each other and their relationship develops in a very unique way. Not only that but the adults looking for these kids after they run away together have such fantastic reactions outside of what you may expect. It's a fun, funny, unpredictable, and exciting in the very bland way that Wes puts together movies.
I'm sure Amour is well written but it seems like one of those stories where you already know what's going to happen as soon as the story starts. Flight also seems like one of those. Then Zero Dark Thirty, while an amazing movie does have the flaw of cramming a lot of dense information into a 2 1/2 hour story.
I may be swayed after I finally see Django Unchained but I'm not sure I will be with how much I enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom's story and characters.

Best Adapted Screenplay
-Nominees: Argo by Chris Terrio from The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez & The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman, Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin from Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar, Life of Pi by David Magee from Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Lincoln by Tony Kushner from Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns, Silver Linings Playbook by David O. Russell from Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
-Winner: Argo

I really can't stop singing praises for Argo and this is no exception. Again for only seeing a couple of these flicks I can't properly compare. And while Lincoln was really well written as well I found Argo's writing to be spellbinding. The only other thing I can really say about this category based on what I know is essentially comparing Argo to Lincoln (Again, haven't seen all of these). Basically it makes more sense for Argo to win than Lincoln because:
-For one you're dealing with more recent history so chances are facts may be more accurate.
-Lincoln has a much bigger story than Argo does. To condense more and denser material into a 2+ hour movie will always leave the feeling like something isn't quite right or is left out.
-Lastly, Argo just straight up has a wider appeal in it's writing. Lincoln is fantastic but it is far more complicated than Argo.
We truly are living in an era where the academy has become a lot less pretentious.

Best Director
-Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Behn Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
-Winner: Ang Lee

This one I was and wasn't surprised about at the same time. Mostly from all the attention Life of Pi was getting overall. But the thing with Ang Lee is that he seems to be really hit and miss with his work. First off he did Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon which was an incredible poetic martial arts film. Then he made Hulk which was a big disappointment to many people. But then he also brought out Brokeback Mountain which was a well put together film but I didn't feel it deserved all the Oscar attention it got. But more recently he put together Lust, Caution. He went back to China to make this amazing WWII era thriller that got less attention that it truly deserves. And some of that attention was over the fact that it was released with an NC-17 for a couple of graphic sex scenes that Ang Lee insisted needed to stay in. So it's been really back and forth for him and I wouldn't say it was something that was a long time coming.
The thing is that this was, much like many of the other awards, what seemed like an even race and there was no clear winner here from the Oscar buzz. Personally I chose Spielberg but his career is so profound that he doesn't need that to be honored. He's got an entire library of amazing works which is worth more than an Academy Award for one year. Otherwise I haven't seen any of the other films but I assume they all did a knockout job considering the nominations. Sadly this is one of my favorite awards but I know little about these five people and what they're being nominated for.
In the end I can't say I'm excited nor disappointed. I don't know what to think because I just don't know enough.

Best Actress
-Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossibe)
-Winner: Jennifer Lawrence

This one I only have a little bit to say on it.
Of these performances I've only seen one but I am familiar with a couple of the other actresses. I'll start of by saying that I am not familiar with Emmanuelle Riva outside of clips from Amour. That's all so I have nothing to say on it simply because of lack of knowledge.
As far as the other actresses go I've got to say there were some great choices here. I thought Jessica Chastain was superb in Zero Dark Thirty. I was very empathetic with her character and would love to see her in other movies cause she did such a good job. Then I would say I've always enjoyed Naomi Watts since first seeing her in the remake of Ring (I'm sure I've seen her in something else but I couldn't quote it for you at this moment). I wouldn't consider her to be amazing but very enjoyable (and very easy on the eyes).
To me this came down to Jennifer Lawrence and Quvenzhane.
A lot of buzz had been surrounding Jennifer Lawrence and her performance in Silver Linings Playbook. I already know she's a great actress as before this I saw her in The Beaver and The Hunger Games. She was also nominated for an award a couple years ago when she was in Winter's Bone but didn't win. So I wasn't too shocked when I found out she was nominated. Now at the same time Quvenzhane Wallis felt like Oscar bait. She is the youngest actress to be nominated for the award at just nine years old. She was in an independent film and on top of all this she is absolutely adorable. So pretty much I was basing a lot of my suspicion around the, for a lack of better words, politics around it instead of her actual performance. But for as much attention Beats of the Southern Wild was getting I would imagine she had a chance from her acting alone.
But in the end Jennifer Lawrence won and she was very deserving. I don't even need to see Silver Linings Playbook to know this is true. She is a fantastic actress and will be going on and on in film for a long time to come. I just wish the poor girl didn't trip on her way up to accept her award. Still she played it off well and classy.

*Best Actor
-Nominees: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Juaquin Phoenix (The Master), Denzel Washington (Flight)
-Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis

There is no reason to think it would be anyone other than Daniel Day-Lewis. That is not to downplay everyone else's performance, but if you know a thing or two about Daniel Day-Lewis (or in this case saw Lincoln) you would know that he is one of the most immersed and dedicated actors working. He literally lives his roles and does an unrecognizable transformation for the sake of a role. For Lincoln alone he literally was in character 24 hours a day during production. This is just the tip of the iceberg on what he's done for the roles he's played and I would suggest you take a look into it because it is incredible. His wiki page does touch on this which I'll link here. I mean, seriously, if you show someone The Crucible, Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln back to back and then asked them what they all have in common it may be difficult to make the connection that it was all the same actor.
You see, this may seem obvious but the best performances are when an actor doesn't just portrays but completely transforms. You'll see a lot of performances that mimic a character, but rarely will you see a transformation where the actor becomes that character. To test this is easy. When watching a movie and you look at the actor, whether or not you know their name but you're aware of the actor's previous work, do you recognize them as that actor or as that character. Far easier to do in a movie with unknowns (like Paranormal Activity) or movies with heavy makeup (The Nutty Professor... these are bizarre examples). But when an otherwise recognizable actor truly transforms and becomes something else it is profound. A popular and recent example of this is in The Dark Knight. Like many other people I felt Heath Ledger gave the best performance of the year as the Joker. This was partially due to the heavy makeup which made him unrecognizable. But what made him even more unrecognizable was the character he played. Even when someone is in heavy makeup they can still be recognized or some quirk they have will show through. Not in this case. If Heath wasn't credited for this role I imagine the world would be wondering who that was. He did such a knockout job and wasn't even recognizable anymore not just through makeup but also through his acting abilities.
Another example that is coming to mind is in Inglourious Basterds. Did you know that Mike Myers is in that movie? As in "Yeeeeaaaah Baby!" and "Wayne's World! Party on! Excellent!" Mike Myers. It wasn't some hidden to the side cameo. He played a small character that stood directly in front of you. It's been a while since I've seen that movie so I don't recall the exactly when the scene came up but it was brief and small. He was in pretty heavy makeup but someone who has such a distinct voice you'd think you'd recognize him. At first I thought it was some other Mike Myers. Then I took a closer look at my second viewing of it and there he is. There's Mike Myers acting like a legitimate actor for once and he was fantastic.
Now those are not the best examples because I'd rather compare DDL to someone who was able to accomplish this feat without makeup helping them. And granted DDL has done that as well but it's been minimal makeup for the character (i.e. a beard in Lincoln, a mustache in There Will Be Blood, really long hair in The Crucible) but any other character in those roles and they would be instantly recognizable. Take Tommy Lee Jones who was also in Lincoln. When I saw him I basically saw Tommy Lee Jones with a wig doing what he's good at. I wasn't as immersed in his character because I didn't see the character, I saw the actor. When I see DDL play a role I don't see DDL. I know it is him but I don't like to believe it. As far as I'm concerned he became Lincoln for this production. He was that good.
The best part? His speech. I'll talk about the speeches a little more later on here but I wanted to talk about it in context of this category. His speech was so humble. I mean, this is a god among actors and he could have been standing up there waving his dick around showing everyone how amazing he is, but he didn't. He was so appreciative and had an attitude that seemed to say "I could have never expected this. I am so honored." His was easily my favorite acceptance speech of the night. Daniel, you went up an even higher peg in my book than you already were. You are to acting what Stanley Kubrick was to directing. I look forward to whatever you work on next.

Best Picture
-Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
-Winner: Argo

This is where I knew I was out of touch with the nominees. While I know plenty about each of these titles and why each of them would be worthy of the best picture title there wasn't one that really stood out over the rest in my mind. It was a big guessing game for me especially since I've only see three of the nominees (Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty) and of those three I would say any could win but all for different reasons. Argo because it was not only really well written and directed but also because it was vastly entertaining. Lincoln was one of the best period pieces I've seen in a long time with a brilliant performance by Daniel Day-Lewis. Then Zero Dark Thirty is one of the most gripping and engaging thrillers of the year that I'm sure I would have enjoyed even more if I hadn't drank so much soda during the movie and had to hold in a bladder full during the last part of the movie when they infiltrated Bin Laden's hideout. I could easily see how any of them could win the award.
Also based on the rest I could see how some of the other ones could win, too. Amour being a foreign and depressing looking film appeared to be Oscar bait, so did Beasts of the Southern Wild since it's both an independent film and it's about black people whose life doesn't appear to have treated them well. This is based on the very little information I know about these movies for the record. But then even a flick like Les Miserables seems like a sure thing. Classic novel, adored musical, mega cast that seems to have done a pretty amazing job with the singing, and it wouldn't be the first time a musical won. Knowing very little about Life of Pi, Django Unchained, and Silver Linings Playbook I couldn't say for sure why they were up for best picture. Especially since upon first glance they didn't appear to be that kind of movie
I think that's what made this year really exciting. There was no sure fire contender on who would win all the awards or specific awards with few exceptions (as I previously stated with the other nominees and winners). A couple years ago when The King's Speech was nominated for best it wasn't even fair to have other nominees because that year it was so obvious that it would be the winner. Even last year when The Artist kept winning award after award it wasn't even fun to watch after a while. It just became so predictable. (P.S. I still think The Artist is an amazing movie). I can tell you how this all would have played out if it was ten to fifteen years ago. It probably would have been something more like Amour to win best. I mostly state this from me remembering the days of when movies had to be like Gosford Park or Frida to get the attention of the academy. I'm glad times have changed in a way where the academy isn't as pretentious.
So in the end it was Argo. Do I agree? Does it matter if I agree? Well I would say I do. As I have stated in the last few paragraphs it felt like a year where almost anyone could be the winner. And as I previously stated plenty others are great but for different reasons. Based on what I know, seen, and heard it did feel like Argo was the most well rounded, making it one of the most logical awards given for the night. Not only was it well written, directed, acted, and so forth it was flat out entertaining. I remember when I went to go see this there wasn't a moment I was bored and even felt it was far superior to Ben Affleck's last movie The Town. A good friend of mine once said that the best movies of all time that will stand the test of time will be a combination of having great artistic value but also be entertaining and appealing enough to appeal to the mainstream for it to stay popular. I feel Argo touches on all of those aspects. The only unfortunate thing is that now people will be going into it with unrealistic expectations, thinking, "Well this is the best of the year so it better be the best" followed up by comments stating it was over-rated, blah blah blah.
If you want my opinion I feel Argo is great. But if Lincoln won, also great, Zero Dark Thirty, the same, if any of the other ones did, I guess I wouldn't know for sure but all in all this was a close race. The only one I may have been a little bummed out on is Life of Pi. From what I heard that's not a great story and aside from the technical aspects it doesn't appear to be worthy of being the best.
For the record on my personal ballot I picked Lincoln to win.

The Speeches and Conclusion: Aside from the intro being my favorite part of the show, there was another part of the show that I really enjoyed. The speeches. So many of the speeches were better than other years. Rarely was I actually bored with them because most people this year felt to be truly thankful and even humble. It was a wonderful change of pace from other years where egocentric folks like James Cameron jumping on stage screaming, "I'm the king of the world!" No, this time around people seemed so appreciative. Even the first speech of the night when Christoph Waltz won for best supporting actor. He was so touched that he was chosen and it was so sweet the way he showed this appreciation. Keep in mind this isn't the first time he's won an Oscar, so it's not like this is his first time. But so many of the speeches from there were just so wonderful.
A common theme that was present in these speeches are the people they love in their life. It was simply, "I would like to thank the academy," or, "I had a great crew," etc, etc, etc. So many people were thanking their spouses. Then they were tearing up along with their spouse in the audience because they're so proud. Then so many were there with their mothers it seemed. Even bigger stars like Chris Evans and Bradley Cooper brought their mothers as their date instead of some skanky looking bimbo to carry around with them. But it really got to me right in the heartstrings when many referenced a parent (usually their father) and either pointed up or said they were watching from heaven. It was so refreshing to have them reference and show they have faith in a higher being and believed their former loved ones were watching down on them. I almost choked up during one of them, too, but I don't remember which.
There were one or two that dragged on a bit and one person even got cut off entirely. But the only one I didn't particularly care for was Quentin Tarantino's when he won for best original screenplay. It was a bit egotistical I felt. I mean, I'm sure the guy wrote the script entirely on his own (for the most part) but he still said things like "The reason people will remember my movies are because of the characters I created." Really? I mean yes you're right to a point but what about the people playing those characters? I don't know, I just wasn't too crazy about his speech.

In the end I've got to say this was one of my favorite years for the Academy Awards. The awards were much more unpredictable than previous years, people seemed to actually appreciate the award for the most part, the sideshows were actually pretty nice to watch for once, and it was flat out hilarious damn near the entire show! It passed by all so quickly. The tension was there and the answer was rarely obvious for who would win. This made it so exciting to watch. It was engaging. Most of all it wasn't disappointing. I hope they bring back Seth for other years because he may very well be this generations Billy Crystal for the host. He's not as clean in his humor but neither is this generation so it works out. Overall I loved this year's show. It was refreshing since the last few years have really bummed me out with it's predictability and lackluster hosts. I look forward to next year now more than ever.

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