I’ve been an Oscar buff since I was in college, and I’ve watched the awards every year with my dear friend Mike since 1990. It sounds corny to others, I’m sure, but the first time we watched them together was in my teeny, tiny basement apartment when we both worked in public television. Mike showed up with a bag of Hershey’s kisses and a half gallon of milk. We made bets with the kisses for each category. The person with the most candy at the end of the night won. It was the best.
More than two decades later, we still watch together, and we still bet with chocolate, though the milk is often replaced by beer or wine. And each year we alternate whose house we’ll watch from. This year, it was his, so Bonnie and I, Mike, and his wife, Joy, curled up in the living room and got comfy. And Joy handed me my ass when we began betting. I’m sure she was cheating, but I can’t figure out how. I just know there was a moment where she boasted a bowl overflowing with candy while my bowl contained three sad and lonely Cadbury mini eggs (those of you who know me can probably guess how long they lasted).
I was not optimistic about Seth MacFarlane as a host, I’ll admit. I don’t watch Family Guy, and movies like Ted are just not my thing. Plus, I watched the Golden Globes; how can you possibly follow Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as a host and expect to be impressive? Although it couldn’t have been much worse than last year’s fiasco of a seemingly brain-dead James Franco gazing slit-eyed at the camera while poor Anne Hathaway ran around like a nut and tried her best to salvage what she could. And in the beginning, my misgivings seemed to be justified. MacFarlane’s opening jokes were mildly funny, but a few were a bit offensive, and I braced myself for an uncomfortable night.
Then came the moment when I realized those jokes were supposed to be offensive because a screen dropped, Captain James T. Kirk appeared “from the future” to save the show from becoming a disaster, and MacFarlane broke into “We Saw Your Boobs.” The pre-recorded reaction shots from Naomi Watts, Jennifer Lawrence, and Charlize Theron were priceless, as was the list of all the movies in which my beloved Kate Winslet has bared her torso. And don’t get me started on the sock puppet rendition of the movie Flight. When they showed the socks tumbling in the dryer, I just about peed myself. MacFarlane’s accosting of Sally Field in the greenroom while he was dressed as the Flying Nun was even funny, if only because they both kept uttering the line, “They’re gonna give it to Anne (Hathaway)” with regard to the Best Supporting Actress Oscar Ms. Field was up for. (No surprise: they did give it to Anne. Rightfully so.)
MacFarlane had a shockingly impressive singing voice, and he did well enough given he was a first-time host and rather nervous. I did think the show ran long (or maybe it just seemed long), but here are some things that were highlights for me:
• The first time they used the Jaws theme to get somebody to wrap up their acceptance speech, I thought it was funny. After that, it became rude and then bordered on just being mean.
• It seemed to be a night of humble, gracious speeches. If anybody remembers Melissa Leo accepting her award last year for Best Supporting Actress, you’ll understand why I was leery. But Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Ang Lee, and even Quentin Tarantino gave really kind, thankful, moving speeches. I was touched more than once.
• The Best Picture win for Argo was so awesome to see, especially after Ben Affleck’s much-discussed snub for Best Director. Seriously, what was the Academy thinking? I finally got to see the movie the Friday before the awards and I’m so glad I did. It’s a terrific film, dramatic, funny, suspenseful. I loved it and was so happy to see it given the credit it was due.
• Was I the only one who desperately wanted Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain to start making out when they were presenting together? Oh, my god, what a hot couple they’d make. A romance may be forming in my head even as I type this…
• I’m not an enormous fan of dancing, and I’m even less of a fan of Channing Tatum (or as Bonnie calls him, Chatum Tatum), but the pairing of him and Charlize Theron was beautiful. I loved watching them. Nicely done.
• No song on earth gets me misty-eyed faster than The Way We Were, and there’s still nobody who sounds quite as magical as Barbra Streisand. I’ve read that she really dislikes performing now, so her appearance as a tribute to her late, longtime friend Marvin Hamlisch was even more moving. And she sounded fabulous.
• I thought the tribute to fifty years of James Bond was a bit lame. I wanted more. Specifically (and with all due respect to Dame Shirley Bassey, who belted out Goldfinger with relish), I wanted Sheena Easton signing For Your Eyes Only, as she did at the 1981 Oscars. I also adore Adele—and was happy she got her own Oscar for writing the theme to Skyfall—but I thought her performance was tepid at best.
• Okay, this one’s going to piss off some of my lesbian friends, but I don’t care, I’m going to say it: I cannot stand Kristen Stewart. Can’t. Stand. Her. Can she, just once, at least pretend not to be sullen and bored when she shows up someplace? She always looks like she’s about half a second away from rolling her eyes and flipping somebody the bird. And don’t get me started on her acting talent—or lack thereof.
• Shout outs to my hometown! In addition to Philip Seymour Hoffman (native of Rochester), who was nominated again, this time in the Best Supporting Actor category, the winner of the Documentary Short category for her film, Inocente, was Andrea Nix Fine, also a native of Rochester. Yay, Roch-cha-cha!
• Was Renee Zellweger stoned? She had that James Franco look about her, she was swaying on her feet, and she just kind of blinked at the card she was supposed to read until Queen Latifah read it for her. WTF? You’re at the Oscars! Onstage, for god’s sake! Pull yourself together!
• How is it possible that Steven Spielberg can be the brilliant genius that he is and only have one Oscar? It makes no sense to me. With the snubs of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow this year—and with no disrespect meant to winner Ang Lee—I thought for sure Mr. Spielberg had this one in the bag. But once more, he’s a bridesmaid and not a bride. It just doesn’t seem right to me. Oh well. I still have a crush on his wife. And his daughter.
Those are my two cents. What did you all think?