It’s the morning after the 85th Annual Academy Awards. Right now, as you read this, there are entire hordes of producers, writers, editors, directors, and actors stumbling through the streets of Los Angeles in last night’s formal wear. With their designer sunglasses on, they shuffle their feet like the Hollywood undead, Oscar in one hand, aspirin in the other.
If you missed the show, you can check out a list of winners here. Seth MacFarlane did a fine job of hosting the Oscars and I have a feeling we’ll see him hosting again in the future – though it would be great to see Amy Poehler and Tina Fey take the reins next year (William Shatner‘s right, they should just host everything).
As far as the results, I was quite pleased with most of the Academy’s choices. As for my Predictions, I did pretty well, accurately predicting 20 of the 24 categories. So I figured as part of this wrap-up, I’d talk about some of the picks I got wrong.
Let’s start with the pleasant surprises:
Best Director: Ang Lee (Life of Pi). I was certain the Academy would reward Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, but I leapt out of my seat with excitement when Ang Lee’s name was read. Life of Pi was the one of the most rewarding, emotional experience I had in the theater last year, so it was great to see Lee’s work recognized. Life of Pi took home the most awards last night (4: Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Score) and even though it didn’t take Best Picture, it was nice to see the Academy spread the love around to films that truly deserved it.
Best Supporting Actor: In similar fashion, I figured Tommy lee Jones‘ performance in Lincoln would gain the recognition of the Academy, being the safest film in contention and perhaps the most standard and accessible performance of a stellar lineup of Supporting Actor nominees. After giving Christoph Waltz the statue a few years ago for Inglourious Basterds, I thought the Academy might hold off on giving a second statue to the Austrian-German actor – but it’s nice to be proven wrong in this case.
I love Tommy Lee Jones, but I felt that compared to the others in his category, he was perhaps the least deserving. Aside from wearing a bad wig and some period garb, Jones didn’t do anything that jumped out and grabbed me – he could have just as easily have been nominated for Men in Black III based on his vanilla, monotone performance. I would have preferred seeing Alan Arkin, Robert De Niro, Waltz, or Philip Seymour Hoffman take home the statue – and was relieved when Waltz came up on stage and gave his humble, genuine thanks.
Now, let’s talk about a couple of personal disappointments. Luckily nothing too blasphemous happened last night, but I do take issue with a couple of the Academy’s choices. Let’s start with the least offensive:
Best Production Design: the Academy saw fit to reward Spielberg’s historical epic, Lincoln, with a Production Design Oscar. Of the other films nominated, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les MisÃ©rables, Anna Karenina, and Life of Pi, I thought the production design and set decoration of Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer on Anna Karenina deserved recognition – turning Leo Tolstoy‘s dusty russian novel into a sumptuous, meta-theatrical, cinematic work by Joe Wright.
But, it looks like the Academy decided to reward Lincoln’s accurate depiction of the 1860s, though I believe most of that has to do with Costume and Makeup and Hairstyles, but sure – I suppose Lincoln’s production design is impressive – and it’s hard to get upset when the film only won two Oscars anyway.
The award winner that most shocked me, however, was the one for Best Animated Feature.
Best Animated Feature: The competition was fierce: Tim Burton‘s Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph, and PIXAR’s Brave. I’m not the world’s biggest animation fan – in fact I have a particular disdain for the majority of animated films that come out these days: Shrek, Madagascar, Ice Age, Kung Fu Panda – I couldn’t care less, but two films came out this year that made me re-evaluate my bias towards animation: Frankenweenie and ParaNorman.
Frankenweenie is, without question, the best film Tim Burton’s made since 2003’s Big Fish – a film that manages to show off the eccentric director’s unique visual style while telling a story full of heart. Similarly, ParaNorman (Laika’s follow-up to Coraline) featured beautiful animation and a wonderful story filled with strong voice performances by Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, and Casey Affleck. Neither of these films, sadly, were ever considered frontrunners in the Best Animated Feature race – which I thought belonged to Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph – an entirely decent, fun little movie with some truly gorgeous visuals.
You can imagine my utter dismay when – one of the most underwhelming movies of the year – beat these deserving animated films: Pixar’s Brave.
Brave was an entirely disappointing, downright lazy attempt at storytelling (Mama Bear!? Really!?) – a film that felt less like Pixar and more like something DreamWorks churns out in-between Shrek sequels. This is just proof that Pixar can continue to crank out mediocre movies and they’ll be rewarded with acclaim and accolades.
Can’t wait for those future award-winners: Monsters University, Finding Nemo 2, Toy Story 4, and now Brave 2: Brave Harder. It’s unfortunate that films featuring impressive, painstaking stop-motion animation get the shaft over another generic computer-generated movie that had little to offer other than some messy tangles of red hair.
OK, rant over – so I wasn’t pleased with the Best Animated Feature winner or the complacency of the voters’ in the Production Design category – but I am pleased with Argo winning Best Picture and Jennifer Lawrence taking Best Actress.
All in all, I thought the 85th Academy Awards were a success – Seth MacFarlane’s opening with William Shatner as James T. Kirk was brilliant, and there were plenty of jokes and fun moments throughout – Ted and Mark Wahlberg sharing the stage was particularly entertaining. Now with the year of 2012 squared away, we can direct our efforts to all the great films to come this year…
[Photo credit: “Oscars” courtesy of Shutterstock.com]