Belated Reaction to the Oscars
To start off, let's give a hand to James T. Kirk. He had never been nominated for anything and probably never will, since he's not that kind of actor. However, it seems that the Academy still has a sense of how to represent every aspect of the cinematic culture (outside of the vulgar, of course), and they put him in a prominent role for the ceremonies. For those of you who haven't seen it, I won't give it away, but for those of you who have, I'm sure you will agree that his appearance was at once both hilarious and awesome, amounting to one of the most memorable moments to this year's Oscars.
On that note, there was also a clip of McFarlane flirting with Sally Field in an alternate future (Seth, you dirty, dirty dog). She's getting ready, and he says (and of course, I'm paraphrasing) "But you know Anne Hathaway is going to win the Oscar anyway, so why don't we hang?" Some back and forth, as Sally at first pretends that she's too good for that idea, but then she breaks and admits, "It's going to Anne!"
According to Captain Kirk, Sally would have won for Best Supporting Actress if she hadn't run off with MacFarlane. I like that note, because while Hathaway put out the performance of the year, I remember being struck when I saw Sally Field in Lincoln and she was so good that not only did I not recognize her, I was completely convinced that I was seeing Mary Todd Lincoln onscreen (even more impressive is that Sally is ten years older than Daniel, and Mary Todd was ten years younger than Abraham). When I was done with that movie, I knew that she was going to at least get nominated and for sure be a condender for the win. While I agreed when Hathaway did indeed win (it was simply the biggest Supporting Actress role of the year), from the standpoint of sheer acting talent, Field trumped everyone else, and I'm glad that it was at least slightly ambiguous leading up to the anouncement for Best Supporting Actress.
Coincidentally, both Sally Field and Anne Hathaway played prominent roles in superhero films before playing their Oscar nominated roles in historical dramas later that year. I found that interesting.
Now, here's something I found interesting about the ceremonies. You ended up hearing a lot of John Williams music. Near the beginning, I distinctly recalled there being "Flight" from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Later, I was also amused when the theme from Jaws was played to signal whenever someone's time onstage was coming to a close (which is a good idea, while also being highly entertaining). John Williams, you rock.
Animated Short Film and best Animated Feature
On to animated stuff...I had expected La Luna to be nominated, and I was surprised that it wasn't. However, when they showed clips from their nominees and I was introduced to Paperman for the first time, I instantly thought "I hope that one wins." Hand-drawn (sort of), strong visual style, black-and-white, tasteful character design, a good title, lovable character depiction right off the bat, and really, really smooth animation all basically pointed to that as the winner. And it won. Congratulations, and congratulations to Wreck-It-Ralph for being associated with such a masterpiece. I truly hope to see Disney create feature-length films to this, because if they do, that would be the second biggest boom in pop-culture this decade since the announcement of Star Wars Episode VII (incidentally, these would both be booms in movie culture on the behalf of Disney).
By the way, using the technology for Paperman, studios could legitimately make hand-drawn films at 48 frames per second. While I would be reluctant to see a special FX movie of that nature for how it would trespass over the uncanny valley and make everything look fake, it would be perfect for handdrawn animation. The smoothness would look right, since everything about animation is over-the-top and a caricature of real life anyway.
At the time, I hadn't seen Wreck-It-Ralph, but I heard a lot of good stuff from it. Unfortunately, most people classified Brave as their least favorite Pixar movie, so I wouldn't have been surprised if Wreck-It-Ralph won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. However, in spite of popularity issues, Brave still had a certain storytelling aura about it, and so I called it in favor of Brave. Then again, Happy Feet won against Cars back in 2006, and Shrek won against Monsters Inc. in 2001. It seems as if animated films are judged completely different as if they're supposed to be of lower quality, and I think that's ridiculous. There's a certain amount of prejudice there. Also, it's a pity that it doesn't take much to get nominated for best Animated Feature. Basically, all you have to do is make an animated movie that people actually hear about, and you're on the list (presuming that your film doesn't use motion-capture technology). There really needs to be more animated films. Especially smooth, hand-drawn ones. Disney, I'm looking at you.
And Toy Story 3 should have won Best Picture in 2010. I still believe that. And I mean in sincerely, not as a joke. It would have been an excellent moment for Hollywood to break precedent and allow itself to critically reevaluate itself, hopefully to rediscover what it's all about. Were they afraid of being embarrassed I don't know, but they nominated Walt Disney 59 times and allowed him to win 22 or those, so I personally think that Walt Disney embodies the best of what Hollywood should be. It would be an honor and a privilege to have bestowed the first ever Best Picture for an animated film on a movie connected to his legacy.
More Music Stuff
There was a celebration for 5 years of James Bond, and Halle Berry called Bond music a genre of its own. That's pretty prestigeous of a complement. Normally, I would only use such elevated language for John Williams. Perhaps I overrate him, although that's kind of difficult to believe.
Oh, and Halle Berry's dress was actually cool.
Also, another bit from Forrest Gump was playing when Innocente won for Best Documentary, Short Subject. "Rocky" played during Best Documentary. These are two cool pieces of music that definitely merit playing during the ceremonies. If I won an award for a documentary, I would want these to play when I came on stage, too.
Liam Neeson then appeared to announce the next batch of Best Picture nominees. Interestingly, they were all related to political/military dramas, and one of them was by Stephen Spielberg, with whom he bears a strong association due to his starring role in Schindler's List. And of course, the theme from that movie played in the background when he was introduced. It will always be his best role, and Schindler's List will always be my favorite movie.
I can remember when it happened, but there was also the part where Hugh Jackman sang "Suddenly" and the rest of the cast came on to sing "One Day More" which was what I would assume many people would consider a highlight. For my sister, it certainly was. Les Miserables is getting a lot of attention at the Oscars in these last few years, and I'm not complaining.
Acknowledging the funniest joke of the night
Well, maybe it wasn't the funniest, but it was the one I remembered the most. "I would argue that the actor who really got into Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth...Really? A hundred and fifty years and it's still too soon!"
And an Advertisement
There were some interesting advertisements between breaks. One of them had something to do with a "Zombie Western Musical", which is an interesting idea. Along the same vein, there was one with a bunch of video game designers coming up with "Unicorn Apocalypse", and Tim Burton came in all interested in movie rights. The nerds are like "and then there's a giant battle in the end, and planets are crushing into each other, and - "
"Woah, wait!" says Tim Burton. "This is getting too weird for me."
Yeah right. Too weird for Tim Burton? Never going to happen. But it's not too weird for me. I can see myself taking an idea as extreme as that and having a lot of fun creating a visual symphony of superlatives.
The advertisement I found really entertaining, though, was a brief one near the end for Hyundi where the narrator was saying "and I'd like to thank all the engineers who worked on this, and my CEO, and my mother, and - I wish I had enough time to fit everyone in! - but this is such a great honor..." and it was essentially mimicking an acceptance speech at the Oscars.
What's the difference between sound mixing and sound editing? I'm not entirely sure, either. In any case, I understood the movies that won these awards. Les Miserables won for best mixing, and though I disagreed with the cinematography, the sound of the film was certainly immersive and helped make it a 3D experience without actually being 3D - take that all you 3D movies out there!
Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall, interestingly, tied for Best Sound Editing. I wonder how that happens. Eh. Well, I'm just glad that Zero Dark Thirty only got that particular award, since the entire movie, for me, was just cheap Oscar bait.
The Family von Trapp
There were a ton of references to classic musicals, which I really dug. I realize now that musicals was actually the theme of the ceremonies this year, so this doesn't happen every year, but it's still cool. This is a true classic. It was pretty awesome to accept Christopher Plumber onstage and for him to invite the family to sing...only they were missing!
Remember that controversial discussion that started in my blog purely because I thought that Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway, was incredibly attractive? I also said at the beginning of that list that I would have to complete that list before the Les Miserables movie came out, because it would cause me to have to rearrange that list and I didn't want to delete all the pseudo-essays that I wrote ahead of time. Because Fantine is beautiful, and Hathaway truly sold that character as a real and extraordinarily precious person. It was, with little doubt, the supporting actress performance of the year.
She had a good speech. She looks beautiful. Too bad she's married, but I guess that doesn't matter when you have a celebrity crush.
Oh, and Sing Softly Love, the theme from The Godfather, played in the background when she finished. Cool stuff.
It went to Lincoln. I have to say that Lincoln was the type of movie that was really strong in multiple areas and thus could gather 12 academy awards, but it was also the type of film that was only going to win certain ones. For example, production design. i saw that coming, since it was something that stood out about the film. It's all the more apparent to me now that I have seen a DVD documentary about creating the film, where they went really overboard with the authenticity of it all. You don't really notice it, because you take many of these places for granted, but they had to essentially reconstruct the White House from scratch, and they studied every room, including his cabinet, with utmost detail, and it's surprising how much effort went into that. A huge part of that was research, and another chunk of it was the dedication of construction workers and artists. I personally love films with great production designs, and the authenticity to this one is one of the reasons why I enjoyed it, so I definitely wasn't surprised when this one won.
So "Skyfall" won for Best Original Song. I couldn't quite tell which would win, actually. They all sounded pretty good, and none of them stood out. That's interesting, because I was rooting for "Suddenly", but once I heard some of the others, I felt a little selfish for that. They were all pretty good. Two of them were sang live during the ceremonies, which might have revealed bias toward those two, but it would have been difficult to tell. For all I knew, some of the runner-ups were merely being given a chance to shine to make up for losing.
Anyway, Adele had a bit of grace on the stage, and I enjoyed her live performance. What actually stood out to me, though, was the choir in the background. There was just something...interesting about them. I can't quite say what it was. They were dressed up nice, but inconspicuously places in the background. It all really helped deliver the song. A lot of great songs have subtle but surprisingly organized background singers like that.
As it turns out, Adele won for "Best Song", for which I give her my full-hearted congratulations. It was something that really made its blockbuster movie what it was.
And afterword "Singin' In the Rain" started playing, which made me chuckle. That is probably one of the greatest songs of Hollywood. Like, if Hollywood needed a theme, it would be in the top five contenders. Seriously.
Acually, let's take a moment to look at previous winners and nominees. I'm sitting here, looking at that list in Wikipedia, and here's what stands out to me:
- Over the Rainbow (the other song that would be a theme for all of Hollywood)
- When You Wish Upon a Star (The definitive theme for Disney. And Disney wins a lot of Oscars for songs, as you'll see going down this list.)
- Who Am I? (which was nominated in the same year as the above song, and it wasn't from Les Miserables, but it just goes to show that titles sometimes repeat over time)
- Baby Mine (From Dumbo, nominated without a win. It stands out to me because my mother used to sing it to me as a baby.)
- White Christmas (Everybody knows that one!)
- Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah (too bad you can't see this movie)
- Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (didn't win, but it's interesting, because like the above Disney song, it's also composed of nonsense words)
- Unchained Melody (which later got a better-known cover version by the Righteous Brothers, which later still was used in my pet favorite movie, Ghost, and I love it)
- Moon River (I went to a concert where I heard a most beautiful operatic voice render this song. Heck, I'd probably like it anyway purely because it's from a classic Audrey Hepburn movie.)
- Chim Chim Cher-ee (Winner! And by all means, Mary Poppins truly is practically perfect in every way. Just look at its rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)
- The Bare Necessities (Nominated, and this was the last movie Walt Disney ever worked on. It was "Hakuna Matata" before there was "Hakuna Matata".)
- The Windmills of Your Mind (this is a personal favorite of mine, and I'm really glad it won, because I think way too much)
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Nostalgia blast! Who here has seen this movie growing up? No? Then you have no life. Watch this movie in order to get a full refund on whatever else you've been wasting your time doing all these years. And again, this is another song with nonsense lyrics. Believe it or not, this is not a Disney song, but rather from a movie based on an Ian Flemming novel.)
- Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head (Ooo! This particular winner is another serious contender as a theme song for all of Hollywood. I'm sure everyone remembers it being used in Spiderman 2, which is one reason why that movie was awesome.)
- The Age of Not Believing (nominee from Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which I seriously need to watch because it's been forever. I'll put it right next to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.)
- Live and Let Die (Nominee from -you guesses it - Live and Let Die, another Bond film to get nominated. Except that one didn't win like this one did. It's still perhaps the most iconic Bond song.)
- The Rainbow Connection (nominated, and deserving of so much more of that. Not only the theme for everything relating to The Muppets, but a classic ode to dreams in the vein of Over the Rainbow and When You Wish Upon A Star. I love you, Kermit!)
- On the Road Again (which I find so endearing because it's perfect for playing in the car, and I love songs about travel. It's also about friends, life, and the long journey of living. Make everything of it, folks! Sadly, this lost to "Fame", of all things.)
- Ghostbusters (obligatory "Who you gonna call?" moment)
- The Power of Love (This is why the 80's were so glorious. You don't get rock like this anymore, or movies like Back to the Future. To think, that movie had this song and the main orchestral music to represent it!)
- Somewhere Out There (the "My Heart Will Go On" for animated movies - before there was a "My Heart Will Go On", and just thinking about this threw another nostalgia supernova in my face)
- Under the Sea (when Disney started putting out great movies again)
- Kiss the Girl (and even got two songs nominated from one movie, because it was that good)
- Somewhere in My Memory (Nomination for John Williams, which has to be mentioned purely by virtue that he's John Williams. And Home Alone is an awesome movie, in spite of what the critics said.)
- Beauty and the Beast (Let's face it, I'm entering the 90's here and of course a ton of these are going to be Disney songs. Heck, Disney practically swept the Oscars with its songs during this era. I was one lucky kid. Also, kudos to Beauty and the Beast for being the first animated movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture)
- Be Our Guest
- A Whole New World (the other theme song for Disney)
- Friend Like Me (since I had no friends when I was a kid, I loved this song, and I had an imaginary friend who took major inspiration from Genie)
- Can You Feel the Love Tonight? (it must have been really tough for Academy voters to pick this one over the other great songs from The Lion King)
- The Circle of Life (makes my list for the top three movie openings EVER)
- Hakuna Matata
- Colors of the Wind (Winner, but regrettably, because the song that should have one that year was...)
- You've Got a Friend In Me (I still cry when I hear this one, because I remember when I was a kid, and I had no friends, and the reason why I had so many toys was because they were the only friends I thought I would ever have, and for about seventeen years I was right. Sorry, didn't mean to confess so much. It's not really something I don't want to go into detail on.)
- Moonlight (which was by John Williams)
- My Heart Will Go On (Which got overplayed and it became pretty easy to hate. I'm sure the Academy just didn't want another Disney song to win.)
- Go the Distance (In particular, this one, which is a great song that has helped me so much in life, and bore so much meaning for the people of my generation. It speaks to the struggles I had in life, and that I still have now, and I can't imagine living without it. You're a true winner, Hecules.)
- You'll Be In My Heart (Thank you, Disney, for giving me these great songs. A child's life can get pretty messed up sometimes, but I'm glad that you left a legacy that changed the values of Hollywood, so that just because a movie was for kids, that didn't mean that it was inferior. Even though you couldn't be there for me personally, I'm so glad that you cared for people like me.)
- When She Loved Me (I cried for you, Jesse. Unfortunately, I've had that exact same thing happen for me, and I'm sort of reluctant to ever have a friend again.)
- If I Didn't Have You
- Falling Slowly (I remember when this one, and it was something I sang often that year, because it speaks to me)
- Almost There (a personal favorite of my mother's from The Princess and the Frog)
- Down in New Orleans
- We Belong Together (from Toy Story 3, because it deserved it)
- I See The Light (from a particularly magical moment that Disney is really good at creating)
Surprisingly, "Singin' In the Rain" was never nominated. However, since it comes from a classic movie depicting the most crucial moments in the development of Hollywood and all of the spectacle that came with it, I truly would consider the theme for movies in general, and cetainly one of the Greats that represents the progress of the twentieth century. As much as I must praise many a sad song for speaking to me where it matters, the sheer optimism of some songs is what I live for.
The Other Big Stuff
Best Actress and Best Picture wins this year were slightly less dramatic, though I kind of called them both. I really want to see Argo and Silver Linings Playbook now, though.
So yeah, to wrap this up, Daniel Day-Lewis won for best Actor, as everyone knew he would. It was like "well, duh". Sure, it was breaking precedent and nobody wants to elevate anyone too high, but when he walked in, the camera kept on looking at him. It was pretty much his night. He was the King. Although I daresay, the Pope of all actors at this point is Jack Nicholson, who of course co-presented the award for Best Picture with the First Lady (which I understand was controversial for some). And no matter what, for being my main inspiration from Hollywood, James Stewart will be the patron saint of actors.
Best Actress and Best Picture wins this year were slightly less dramatic, though I kind of called them both. I really want to see Argo and Silver Linings Playbook now, though.