For Your Consideration: Seth MacFarlane as Oscar Host + Some Terrific Posters

There are a few things that I believe are so sure to happen on Oscar night, Sunday February 24, that if I had the proverbial farm, I would wager it down to the last little piggy:

  1. Ted the bear will make an appearance (A song, sung by Norah Jones, from the host’s film of the same name is nominated. Jones will probably have him on her lap as she sings it.)
  2. Daniel Day-Lewis will win Best Actor for Lincoln
  3. Anne Hathaway will win Best Supporting Actress for Les Miserables. (And deservedly so, even if she’ll give a better performance acting surprised when she accepts.)
  4. Ben Affleck will present an award and receive thunderous applause and a standing ovation – as if that could make up for the egregious snubbing. (Unfortunately, he probably won’t utter one of the best lines in his movie, “Argo fuck yourselves”, even though I’ll bet he’d love to. I know I’d love it.)

The producers of the telecast for the 85th Annual Academy Awards are trying very hard to capture (wrangle, reel-in – there are many metaphors to choose from and you will undoubtedly read or have read them all by the time the night rolls around) a younger audience, one that they can cultivate for years to come. This search led to the misguided pairing of Anne Hathaway and James Franco for the 2010 show, as well as the creation of the very cool poster that you can see below, by hot Mondo artist Olly Moss, and the appointment of “Family Guy” and Ted creator Seth MacFarlane to be this year’s host. (Don’t believe me? Then why have the members of the cast of The Avengers been asked to reassemble on Oscar’s stage? As a plug for the sequel that hasn’t even gone into production yet? No.)  This goal could also be met by nominating some of the films that the coveted 18-25 year old male demographic typically goes to see, like The Dark Knight Rises or Skyfall, for Best Picture, both of which had been on a lot of people’s long lists and a cry of disappointment went up when neither made the short list, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Without comparing the merits of those two named films to the nine movies that are nominated, I’ll just offer my humble opinion.  I don’t believe that dangling a carrot in the shape of an Oscar statuette with a superhero’s name etched on it would ever turn 18 year old boys into life-long watchers of the Academy Awards ceremony. They may sit around with their frat brothers to watch the guy who voices Stewie Griffin play host this year, but I guarantee that they’ve already thought of ways to turn it into a drinking game. Even if the experiment works and the Academy pulls in their greatest numbers ever, do they invite him back next year and every year until he and the audience age out?  Do they try to top MacFarlane with someone hipper, edgier, more appealing to that market segment? Like who, Daniel Tosh?

Hosting the Academy Awards is obviously no easy thing and I imagine that every year several are called before someone says “yes”.  What works in other arenas, does not work when hosting a globally televised awards show, just ask David Letterman or the aforementioned Franco and Hathaway. Irreverent humor often works as it did for the longest running hosts, Hollywood insiders Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal, but it's a fine line. It did not work for Jon Stewart (although he was asked back a second time). The cardinal rule is "know thy audience". The almost universally liked Ellen DeGeneres was too “soft”, Chris Rock too “hard”. Hugh Jackman in 2008 appeared to be "just right" and the natural successor to Crystal. Jackman is a born showman, a song-and-dance man as well as an actor, and seemingly without ego. The Academy and the producers of the show would have him back again and again, it’s Jackman who’s turned them down. Schtick never works, as in the case of Letterman (that “Uma/Oprah” thing was bad the first time he said it, let alone after it was repeated ad nauseum throughout the night) as well as the final time Whoopi Goldberg hosted. (Remember her endless costume changes including "white face"?)

Then there was last year’s debacle involving director Brett Ratner’s ignominious ouster and host Eddie Murphy’s subsequent departure. Ratner, best known as the director of those Rush Hour flicks as well as Tower Heist (of which Murphy was the star). Recently he’s turned his hand mostly to producing, but in any case, I think his selection was an attempt at “edgy”. (And yet the Academy was shocked that an ill-chosen remark went viral.) Old-school Billy Crystal was subbed-in almost at the last minute, did his usual bang up job and saved the Academy’s face.

Eighty five years of history would hang over the head of whomever had decided to take the hosting gig. Seth MacFarlane is very talented. He’s an accomplished singer of big-band era standards and I do hope we get to hear him during the telecast. In addition to his voiceover work, he’s obviously a comedically-gifted writer and even earned praise for his live-action directorial debut, Ted.  Translating his brand of off-beat humor is still a dodgy proposition as evidenced by these soundbites:

I’m afraid the rest of the world won’t find him nearly as funny as he finds himself. At least he has the right attitude going in to the proceedings:

Now to those cool posters. In addition to the official poster showing a new rendition of the Oscar statuette, and including for the first time the names of the nominees, we have that Olly Moss poster, which depicts the Oscar modified to represent the Best Picture winner for each year. The AMPAS/oscar.org website features “Art Inspired by the Nominated Best Pictures” with a poster by hip and happening illustrators and graphic artists. (Be sure to *click* to see them better.) I’ll be back soon with my predictions.

AMOUR by artist Matt Owen.

ARGO by artist Anthony Petrie

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD by artist Rich Kelly

DJANGO UNCHAINED by artist Mark Englert

LES MISÉRABLES by Phantom City Creative

LINCOLN by artist Jeff Boyes

LIFE OF PI by artist Tom Whalen

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK by artist Joshua Budich

ZERO DARK THIRTY by Godmachine

And the BAFTA Goes To…

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Tonight, Sunday February 10, the 2013 EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs).were announced during a glitzy ceremony held at London’s Royal Opera House and hosted by Stephen Fry.

Before we get to the meat, let’s be shallow and talk fashion. (I’ve included a few pics at the bottom.)  I’ll start with one of my girl-crushes, Jessica Chastain, who killed it in a Roland Mouret dress, the color of which matched her eyes and looked flawless with her red hair and porcelain skin.

Anne Hathaway played it safe in a studded and British black Burberry number. Also in black and white (but with feathers), Elizabeth Olsen in Chanel Couture. Andrea Riseborough and Marion Cotillard chose blinding lemon yellow, the former in Vivienne Westwood, the latter in Dior Couture, the style of which was very similar to Jennifer Lawrence’s Golden Globe dress with it’s weird hidden layers. Lawrence chose Dior Couture this time as well, but it was a simple gem-studded strapless gown. (Poised, savvy, funny, scary-talented with 2 Oscar nominations to her name -hard to believe she’s only 23).

Fashion bloggers praised Gemma Arterton’s one-shouldered column Celia Kritharioti, but I thought she looked like an anemic bee. Amy Adams looked far older than her years in black lace Elie Saab while Thandie Newton looked like she got her black lace Louis Vuitton from the Frederick’s catalog. Speaking of Elie Saab, Sarah Jessica Parker, WTF were thinking?

Ben Affleck’s better half, Jennifer Garner looked gorgeous in a black and white Rolan Mouret that perfectly complimented Ben, his beard and the satin lapels of his tux. Speaking of power couples, Helen McCrory in a pale robin’s egg blue vintage Givenchy from 1963 that matched the darker blue of hubby Damian Lewis’ velvet tux. (*girly sigh*) Eddie Redmayne probably spent the ceremony throwing up because Lewis as well as Luke Evans pulled off the velvet thing better than he has. (He actually had the flu – I'm not being gross) Then there was the Prince and Princess of Wacky, Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. (I’m disappointed she hasn’t repeated the mismatched shoe thing!)

Last but not least, I must mention the incomparable Helen Mirren. I love and adore this woman, but even more than ever for her pink hair, the twinkle in her eye and the fact that she twirled…TWIRLED…on the red carpet. That’s how I want to do 67, too.

One more thing: Someone needs to explain Paloma Faith to me. I realize she’s the British flavor of the month but 1. Why was she singing INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” while a montage of the year’s films (not just nominees) played behind her  and 2. WTF was on her head? The red carpet wasn’t bad enough then she plunked some sort of shrubbery slash chandelier on the top of it. Apparently this sort of fuckery is a thing with her. She’s like Lady Gaga crossed with LaVay Smith by way of the Andrews Sisters. Or something.

On to the main event: I mentioned that Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, led with ten nominations, ahead of Les Miserables and Life of Pi, which both had nine. I also made the observation that in the weeks between the BAFTA nominations and the ceremony, Lincoln appeared “almost dead in the water”. I think the results bore that out. The only award it went home with was the only sure thing of the evening: Daniel Day-Lewis for Leading Actor.

Emmanuelle Riva’s win for Leading Actress, probably the biggest shock of the night, actually works in Jessica Chastain’s favor in terms of the Academy Awards. Riva had won a couple of critics groups but Chastain, despite her loss of the Screen Actors Guild Award to Jennifer Lawrence, had won many more. If BAFTA had gone for Lawrence, I think it would be clear the Academy would too, hence my thought that Chastain is still in it. Just my humble opinion, of course. Conventional wisdom says BAFTA equals Oscar for actresses who haven’t won much else. Eg: Marion Cotillard in 2008 and Meryl Streep in 2012. We’ll see.

I gave you my picks (which are marked with ** a few days ago in this post.  Let’s see how I did, shall we? The winner is highlighted in yellow.

BEST FILM:

**ARGO Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

LES MISÉRABLES Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh

LIFE OF PI Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark

LINCOLN Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

ZERO DARK THIRTY Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

Ben Affleck’s little film-that-could has now unquestionably become an unstoppable juggernaut on a trajectory for an Oscar win. (Hyperbole? Perhaps. We’ll see on February 24.)

OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM:

ANNA KARENINA Joe Wright, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster, Tom Stoppard

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL John Madden, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Ol Parker

LES MISÉRABLES Tom Hooper, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh,

William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS Martin McDonagh, Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin

**SKYFALL Sam Mendes, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan

As I said, “All of these are worthy. I’d love to see Seven Psychopaths take it but I have to go with Skyfall. It’s a massive global hit, but it’s also intrinsically British and they are very proud of the Bond franchise. It’s also damn good.”

Director Sam Mendes, upon accepting the award from Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper said, “On behalf of the 1500+ people who made this {film} we're accepting this. We had high expectations of this film and it surpassed them all. I also have to single out the man around whom we built this film, and that's Daniel Craig.”

OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER:

BART LAYTON (Director), DIMITRI DOGANIS (Producer) The Imposter

DAVID MORRIS (Director), JACQUI MORRIS (Director/Producer) McCullin

**DEXTER FLETCHER (Director/Writer), DANNY KING (Writer) Wild Bill

JAMES BOBIN (Director) The Muppets

TINA GHARAVI (Director/Writer) I Am Nasrine

As I said, Dexter Fletcher was purely a sentimental choice. LOL

FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE:

**AMOUR Michael Haneke, Margaret Ménégoz

HEADHUNTERS Morten Tyldum, Marianne Gray, Asle Vatn

THE HUNT Thomas Vinterberg, Sisse Graum Jørgensen, Morten Kaufmann

RUST AND BONE Jacques Audiard, Pascal Caucheteux

UNTOUCHABLE Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache, Nicolas Duval Adassovsky, Yann Zenou, Laurent

Zeitoun

DOCUMENTARY:

THE IMPOSTER Bart Layton, Dimitri Doganis

MARLEY Kevin Macdonald, Steve Bing, Charles Steel

McCULLIN David Morris, Jacqui Morris

**SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

WEST OF MEMPHIS Amy Berg

ANIMATED FILM:

**BRAVE Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

FRANKENWEENIE Tim Burton

PARANORMAN Sam Fell, Chris Butler

“Awards season favorite Wreck-it Ralph isn’t even nominated so I think this goes to Brave.”

DIRECTOR:

Michael Haneke AMOUR

**Ben Affleck ARGO

Quentin Tarantino DJANGO UNCHAINED

Ang Lee LIFE OF PI

Kathryn Bigelow ZERO DARK THIRTY

It’s no secret that his skill as a director has rejuvenated Ben Affleck’s career. In his acceptance speech, an effusive Affleck said “This is the second act and you’ve given me that. This industry has given me that. So I’d like to dedicate this award to anyone else who’s looking for their second act.”  Ben Affleck – Class Act.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Michael Haneke AMOUR

**Quentin Tarantino DJANGO UNCHAINED

Paul Thomas Anderson THE MASTER

Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola MOONRISE KINGDOM

Mark Boal ZERO DARK THIRTY

As worthy as all of these screenplays are, there was no question it would be QT’s.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

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

I almost changed my prediction to Argo after it’s late win at the Scripter Awards Saturday night, just on hunch, but decided to let Lincoln stand. I would have been wrong either way. This is another category that’s too close to call for Oscar night at this point. Silver Linings Playbook, Argo and Lincoln all have some critics association wins. We’ll know more on Feb. 17 when the Writers Guild hands out their prizes.

LEADING ACTOR:

BEN AFFLECK Argo

BRADLEY COOPER Silver Linings Playbook

**DANIEL DAY-LEWIS Lincoln

HUGH JACKMAN Les Misérables

JOAQUIN PHOENIX The Master

LEADING ACTRESS:

EMMANUELLE RIVA Amour

HELEN MIRREN Hitchcock

JENNIFER LAWRENCE Silver Linings Playbook

**JESSICA CHASTAIN Zero Dark Thirty

MARION COTILLARD Rust and Bone

SUPPORTING ACTOR:

ALAN ARKIN Argo

CHRISTOPH WALTZ Django Unchained

JAVIER BARDEM Skyfall

**PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN The Master

TOMMY LEE JONES Lincoln

As I said, I stepped out on this one. Oh well. I think this seals the deal on another Oscar for Waltz.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

AMY ADAMS The Master

**ANNE HATHAWAY Les Misérables

HELEN HUNT The Sessions

JUDI DENCH Skyfall

SALLY FIELD Lincoln

ORIGINAL MUSIC:

Dario Marianelli ANNA KARENINA

Alexandre Desplat ARGO

**Mychael Danna LIFE OF PI

John Williams LINCOLN

Thomas Newman SKYFALL

Mychael Danna is the relative newcomer on this list. His score for Life of Pi was beautiful and he did win the Golden Globe, John Williams could scoop it though. Alexandre Desplat was nominated for the wrong film, he should have been nominated for Moonrise Kingdom).

CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Seamus McGarvey ANNA KARENINA

Danny Cohen LES MISÉRABLES

**Claudio Miranda LIFE OF PI

Janusz Kaminski LINCOLN

Roger Deakins SKYFALL

This was presented by Mark Strong – better than being right.

EDITING:

ARGO William Goldenberg

DJANGO UNCHAINED Fred Raskin

LIFE OF PI Tim Squyres

SKYFALL Stuart Baird

**ZERO DARK THIRTY Dylan Tichenor, William Goldenberg

PRODUCTION DESIGN:

**ANNA KARENINA Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer

LES MISÉRABLES Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson

LIFE OF PI David Gropman, Anna Pinnock

LINCOLN Rick Carter, Jim Erickson

SKYFALL Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock

COSTUME DESIGN:

**ANNA KARENINA Jacqueline Durran

GREAT EXPECTATIONS Beatrix Aruna Pasztor

LES MISÉRABLES Paco Delgado

LINCOLN Joanna Johnston

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN Colleen Atwood

MAKE UP & HAIR:

**ANNA KARENINA Ivana Primorac

HITCHCOCK Julie Hewett, Martin Samuel, Howard Berger

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater

LES MISÉRABLES Lisa Westcott

LINCOLN Lois Burwell, Kay Georgiou

SOUND:

DJANGO UNCHAINED Mark Ulano, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti, Wylie Stateman

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Tony Johnson, Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges,

Michael Semanick, Brent Burge, Chris Ward

**LES MISÉRABLES Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Jonathan Allen, Lee Walpole, John

Warhurst

LIFE OF PI Drew Kunin, Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton, Ron Bartlett, D. M. Hemphill

SKYFALL Stuart Wilson, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Per Hallberg, Karen Baker Landers

SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS:

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Peter Bebb, Andrew Lockley

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher

White

**LIFE OF PI Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer

MARVEL AVENGERS ASSEMBLE Nominees TBC

PROMETHEUS Richard Stammers, Charley Henley, Trevor Wood, Paul Butterworth

SHORT ANIMATION:

HERE TO FALL Kris Kelly, Evelyn McGrath

I’M FINE THANKS Eamonn O’Neill

THE MAKING OF LONGBIRD Will Anderson, Ainslie Henderson

SHORT FILM:

THE CURSE Fyzal Boulifa, Gavin Humphries

GOOD NIGHT Muriel d’Ansembourg, Eva Sigurdardottir

**SWIMMER Lynne Ramsay, Peter Carlton, Diarmid Scrimshaw

TUMULT Johnny Barrington, Rhianna Andrews

THE VOORMAN PROBLEM Mark Gill, Baldwin Li

“I picked Swimmer because it’s directed by the same Lynne Ramsay that gave us We Need to Talk About Kevin, as well as the upcoming western Jane Got a Gun with Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, Joel Edgerton and Rodrigo Santoro, making it the only short film I’ve heard of. Subjectivity at its finest LOL  Ramsay, like a lot of feature film directors, got her start in shorts, too.”

THE EE RISING STAR AWARD (voted for by the public):

ELIZABETH OLSEN

**ANDREA RISEBOROUGH

SURAJ SHARMA

*JUNO TEMPLE

ALICIA VIKANDER

“A case could be made for any of the four actresses …Both Riseborough and Temple are British. I’m going with Riseborough because I’ve been a fan since “The Devil’s Whore” with Michael Fassbender. (Look at that, I managed to get in two Fassy references.) She’s incredibly talented and has been “on the verge” for a long time. She deserves the push.”  Juno Temple gave a fantastic performance in William Friedkin’s Killer Joe opposite Matthew McConaughey and was in The Dark Knight Rises for about a minute. Still wanted Riseborough to get it.

BAFTA gave their Fellowship Award (the equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement Award) to Sir Alan Parker, acclaimed director of such films as Midnight Express, Bugsy Malone, The Committments, Mississippi Burning and Evita. (He also wrote a song for the soundtrack of Halloween III)

All in all, I didn’t do too badly.  14 right out of 24 categories.  That’s 58%. Eh. I've done better.  I’ll meet you back here in a couple of weeks to talk about my Oscar predictions.

 Pics are *clickable*



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