And the Oscar Goes To…

Ben Affleck and the cast of Argo, the movie that directed itself to Best Picture

Ben Affleck and the cast of Argo, the movie that directed itself to Best Picture

I cannot lie. I love this stuff.  The Academy Awards…excuse me, THE OSCARS, is my high holy day. It has been for as long as I can remember.

This year’s host, Seth MacFarlane, actually started out really strong . “The quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh begins now.” But then immediately dropped off when the camera cut to TLJ who was, of course, laughing.

MacFarlane was back up when he addressed Ben Affleck’s snub right off the top. “They know they screwed up. Ben, it’s not your fault.”  He probably should have quit while he was ahead – about thirty seconds in.

What came next, the taped segment, with William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, went on WAAAAAY too long and was so wildly hit or miss. That horrible “boob”song nearly brought the whole thing to a halt. I don’t know who was cheering when it was over, unless it was because it was over.  Every actress, except Jennifer Lawrence, that they cut to was horrified. Charlize looked embarrassed, but then again, maybe it was a setup because the next thing we knew she was on stage with Channing Tatum doing Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, while Seth sang Jerome Kern!! Unreal, unexpected and entirely fabulous!

…followed by a really stupid sock-puppet thing that almost sucked the air out of the Dolby Theater, then THAT was followed up by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, MacFarlane and Daniel Radcliffe doing a song and dance to “High Hopes”.  At this point, I started to think that the whole show was bi-polar – a tribute to Silver Linings Playbook.

Presenting the first award of the night, Best Supporting Actor, Octavia Spencer looked really good, but was really trying way too hard for applause that didn’t come. And of course, I start of 0-1 by not going with Christoph Waltz (for a role that was really a co-lead and not supporting). I should have known better. Oh well. Waltz does give a helluva speech.

Be still my cold and cynical heart!! Surprise #1! Brave won Best Animated Film!! My faith is restored!

I did call Claudio Miranda for Cinematography. I called it as soon as I saw the film. Gorgeous. I still would have liked Roger Deakins to get it. He’s 0-10.

The Jaws theme used to play off those whose speeches run long was inspired, The Avengers reunion was not.

The James Bond at 50 tribute wasn’t all I expected it to be until Dame Shirley Bassey classed up the joint and belted out “Goldfinger” like a boss in head-to-toe gold sequins and then, rightfully, got a standing ovation. Do you have any idea how old she is? No, of course not.  Would you believe me if I told you she’s 76? Wow.

As predicted Anne Hathaway won Best Supporting Actress and as predicted she acted surprised. That whispered, “it came true!” was a tad twee. I know I’m cynical but the breathy speech was a bit much. On the other hand, it is a freakin’ OSCAR! The big one! Sure we all thought she’d win, but thinkin’ ain’t knowin’. And she deserved it.

The “In Memoriam” segment never fails to make me verklempt, but this year, when Marvin Hamlisch’s name came up and I heard the first strains of “The Way We Were”…chills. I am still in awe of Barbra Streisand. I always have to remember that she and my mother are the same age. (Apropos of nothing, anyone else think someday Jennifer Aniston should play her?)

There was only one Best Original song choice and it won (and I swear if the Ted song had won, I’d have stopped watching). “Skyfall” from Skyfall is the only song anyone will remember two days from now, let alone when future generations look at past Oscar winners. And Adele showed up to flawlessly sing it. She’s only 24 folks. Why the hell they felt the need to drag that out, I have no idea. By the time that award was handed out, we were at the 2 hrs, 45 min. mark.

I was really hoping for a write-in for Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow. It’s my child-like hopefulness. So Ang Lee became the only director to win twice without his movie being named best picture.

It’s no secret that I wanted Jessica Chastain to get Best Actress, especially since the film had so unfairly been treated as “dead-in-the-water” for the past few weeks, but I can’t take issue with Jennifer Lawrence or her performance. It’s amazing to think that she’s only 23 and had been nominated for Best Actress twice and won once already. Move over Meryl. If Streep had been able to hand Lawrence the Oscar, it would have been an almost literal passing of the torch.

When it was time for Best Actor, half the audience probably used it for a bathroom break, so foregone was the conclusion. By the time Meryl announced, rather than read, Daniel Day Lewis’ name, it was anti-climactic, despite the fact that he just made Oscar history by becoming the only actor to win three times in the lead category. I’m just glad I got to hear him speak. He never fails to impress and surprise me whenever he does. Pure class, intelligence, humor and grace.

Jack Nicholson got an assist from the first First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama (!!) as he announced that Ben Affleck’s “little film that could”, Argo, took Best Picture. If, upon subsequent viewings, the tension is still palpable surrounding an event one knew the outcome of even before the first time that you saw it, THAT is a great movie. (I think the same can be said of Zero Dark Thirty). I have no idea what kind of man he actually is, but Ben Affleck is a damn fine filmmaker. He’s an actor who wasn’t getting the kind of roles that he wanted so he decided to take matters into his own hands and create them for himself.  I’m so glad that  Alan Ladd, Jr. took a chance on him and allowed him to make Gone Baby Gone. Affleck has directed three stellar films, each one better than the last, in which he’s directed an actor to an Academy Award nomination and each one that holds up under multiple repeat viewings. He’s only forty years old. How will he top himself now? I can’t wait to find out.

FINALLY it’s over…nope. Seth MacFarlane has one last song to sing, with the help of Kristin Chenowith…serenading the “losers”. It wasn’t nearly as funny as it needed to be to avoid being superfluous. Oh well, it’s all over but the lamentations of those lamented “losers”.

In the immortal words of Porky Pig, “I belibelibelibelibelibel…that’s all folks!”

Here’s your complete List of Winners. My predictions are in red. If by some miracle of prognostication I got it right, it’s marked with **.  In the more likely event that I got it wrong, it’s in yellow (actually I did pretty well, if I do say so myself – 18 out of 24):



Django Unchained

Life of Pi 


Zero Dark Thirty

Les Miserables

Silver Linings Playbook

Beasts of the Southern Wild



Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Steven Spielberg, Lincoln

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Michael Haneke, Amour

Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild


Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln**

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Denzel Washington, Flight

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook

Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables


Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild


Alan Arkin, Argo

Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master

Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained


Amy Adams, The Master

Sally Field, Lincoln

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables**

Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook


Brave, Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman**

Frankenweenie, Tim Burton

ParaNorman,  Sam Fell and Chris Butler

The Pirates! Band of Misfits,  Peter Lord

Wreck-It Ralph,  Rich Moore


Anna Karenina,  Seamus McGarvey

Django Unchained, Robert Richardson

Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda**

Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski

Skyfall,  Roger Deakins (If I had a vote I’d go for Deakins who deserves a win)


Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran**

Les Misérables,  Paco Delgado

Lincoln, Joanna Johnston

Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka

Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood


5 Broken Cameras
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi

The Gatekeepers
Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky, Estelle Fialon

How to Survive a Plague
David France, Howard Gertler

The Invisible War
Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

Searching for Sugar Man
Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn**


Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine

“Kings Point”
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider

“Mondays at Racine”
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan

“Open Heart”
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern

Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill


Argo,  William Goldenberg

Life of Pi, Tim Squyres

Lincoln,  Michael Kahn

Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers

Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg


Amour  Austria**

Kon-Tiki  Norway

No Chile

A Royal Affair Denmark

War Witch Canada


Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane

Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell**


Anna Karenina Dario Marianelli

Argo Alexandre Desplat

Life of Pi Mychael Danna**

Lincoln John Williams

Skyfall Thomas Newman


“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph

“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from Ted
Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane

“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri

“Skyfall “from Skyfall
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth**

“Suddenly” from Les Misérables
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil


Anna Karenina
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright

Les Misérables
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson

Life of Pi
Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson


“Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee

“Fresh Guacamole” PES

“Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly

“Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”” David Silverman

“Paperman” John Kahrs**


“Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura

“Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr

“Curfew” Shawn Christensen**

“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele

“Henry” Yan England


Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn

Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman

Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton

Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers**

Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson


Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia

Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes**

Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin

Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins

Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White

Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott**

Marvel’s The Avengers , Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick

Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and M

Martin Hill

Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson


Chris Terrio, Argo**

Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

David Magee, Life of Pi

Tony Kushner, Lincoln

David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook


Michael Haneke, Amour

Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained**

John Gatins, Flight

Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom

Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty

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