I would have liked to have seen BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD win something important. It was pretty much wiped out at the Spirit Awards which are supposed to be for "Independent Movies" but lately have honored just smaller studio productions like this year it was all SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, a great flick but with major stars and bigtime Hollywood producers and director you can't really call it "independent" like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD.
I almost had the feeling this year that the contenders in most categories were all deserving. Any of the leading actress category could have won, though I'm happy Jennifer Lawrence did. I may be wrong but in my memory the only other young movie actor at the beginning of their career who got a standing ovation when they won, as Lawrence did, was Daniel Day Lewis when he won for MY LEFT FOOT.
That year I was at a private Oscar party a few nights before the event and got to see Lewis and tell him how much I loved his work in that film. He's a classy act, with that wonderful Brit eccentricity that's one of their saving graces. Lawrence is almost the opposite, so open book "American" and the opposite of slick that even with her beauty and that perfect dress it didn't surprise me when she tripped and fell on the steps on her way up to receive her award (where were the escorts they should have had to help the ladies and the older gents?).
ARGO for best picture, not so much. But the way that category is voted on it could have been any of a few. SILVER LINGS PLAYBOOK was another favorite as was LIFE OF PI and LINCOLN. But again, for originality, acting, directing, writing and sheer movie impact BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD would have been a wonderful underdog to take the top prize.
Tarantino can make compelling screen experiences but they usually rely too heavily on cheap shots for my taste, explicit over the top violence will always get a reaction, AMOUR was ten times more brave than any Tarantino flick has ever been, but maybe too real for his fans to appreciate. But he was right in his acceptance for best original screenplay, his fellow nominees were all good, better than him in my view.
No one can begrudge Ang Lee for winning, though the favorite was Steven Spielberg. But I would have liked Benh Zeitlan to have won for, yeah, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. In the end it won't matter, we'll all most likely forget in a few months who won and why shouldn't we, there's a lot more important stuff to pay attention to and remember. But it's always a kick to see these folks who are in our living rooms or on bigger screens, sometimes, in movie theaters, come together to compete and self congratulate.
For me there's the extra kick, and sometimes aggravation, of seeing people I've worked with or for or hung out with or knew intimately in one way or another still looking good or not. Jane Fonda has finally crossed some line in her face lifts reminding me tonight more of Carol Burnett after her plastic surgery than the woman I had a crush on as a teenager when she first came on the scene and got to meet and hang around with a few times in my Hollywood years and always found as extraordinary to look at face to face as I did on the screen, until tonight.
If I was a fashion commentator I'd have to say this was a great year for classic Hollywood gowns, old Hollywood style, the best were, for my taste, on Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, Halle Berry and Charlize Theron. I'm happy my home girl (well from a nearby Jersey town) Anne Hathaway won (nice dress she was wearing too).
As for McFarlane's hosting, not bad but not as good as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on The Golden Globes, and the show was way too long with too many musical numbers though Shirley Bassey was a gas and the cast of LES MISERABLES gave me goose bumps. The highlight of all that was Streisand though, amazing vocal control still at her age. But why so many tributes to people in the business end of Hollywood who passed last year and what seemed a paltry few of those we knew best and cared most about from seeing them on screens over the years?
The producers were brand new for the Oscars and yet they looked older than me, and I'm pretty feckin' old. Maybe it's time to bring in somebody younger than sixty, even younger than fifty, to produce the Oscars from now on. Oh, and classiest of all, again for my taste, was our First Lady's part in announcing the Best Picture Oscar. No matter what you may think of Obama, Michaelle is the coolest First Lady ever.
[PS: I meant to add that whoever did the sound on Adele's SKYFALL number should be fired. The piano drowned her out at times. And who knew Scarlett Johansson could sing so well, so why wasn't she on stage singing her Oscar nominated song instead of Catherine Zeta Jones trying way too hard on that CHICAGO number?]