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Celebrating Movies with Oscar, and Seth McFarlane

sethmcfarlane

THE HOSTING gig for the 85th Oscars, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science [yes, they take themselves very seriously], this year jumped around until Seth McFarlane showed up on SNL and rocked the house. Tonight’s as big as it gets for someone who’s either going to lodge into everyone’s mind as a mega talent or make the Oscars seem even longer than they usually do. My money’s on McFarlane. No one will expect the brilliance Tina Fey and Amy Poehler delivered at the Golden Globes, but McFarlane has enough talent to deliver his version. If he doesn’t it will be a very long night for Seth on Twitter, but who cares? He’s hosting the Oscars, and nobody can be as bad as James Franco.

Two cents from the New York Times:

And what about host Seth MacFarlane? He’s a classy, low-key guy in person, with an old-fashioned Sinatra-style singing voice that he’ll no doubt put to use in a show that’s shaping up as a music-heavy, Broadway-style celebration of cinema.

Yet MacFarlane’s career is built on pushing the envelope – or crumpling it and tossing it in the trash – as he’s tested the boundaries of good taste with such brazen shows as his animated series “Family Guy” and last summer’s obscenity-laden blockbuster “Ted,” which earned him a songwriting Oscar nomination.

The result could be a fun night for younger, hipper TV audiences that Oscar organizers are courting but a crude awakening for traditionalists who like their Academy Awards to lean more toward the sacred than the profane. Or it could be that MacFarlane makes the most of the thankless task of shepherding the Oscars, striking a nice balance between respecting Hollywood and poking fun at it.

Someone you haven’t heard of deserves a lot of credit for what’s happening tonight and he’s got a chance to get it. Film editor William Goldenberg, who is nominated for Ben Affleck’s ARGO, and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty.

Nate Silver posted his predictions on Friday.

Gawker’s predictions give a nod to Silver, because no one wants to argue with the master.

Not a prediction person, but let’s take a look at what’s going on and what might happen… and I’m not talking about the fashion, which is always a highlight to watch for on Oscar night.

Amour, a French-language film, has been dubbed “a truly frightening movie about infirmity and death that dares show the unwatchable and utter the unspeakable.” Emmanuelle Riva is nominated for Best Actress. It’s not the sort of film that would inspire people to watch it, let alone vote for it, no matter the buzz about its greatness. [Flip side view... Ms. Riva celebrates her 86th birthday today and this will be her last chance to win an Oscar, which would be very like the Academy to acknowledge in awarding the prize, since reviews of her performance have been stellar.]

Best Original Screenplay deserves to go to Quentin Tarantino, whose script for DJango Unchained is the stuff of genius. It’s tough, because Moonrise Kingdom is so wonderfully magical, but Tarantino is just in another universe in Django Unchained.

No one but Tony Kushner could take Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and turn it into Lincoln. Winning for the Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay is obvious.

Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables has earned the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Being a Broadway performer once myself, I simply can’t grasp she won’t win. When performances are of the calibre she delivered, even the Academy members wouldn’t argue.

Many people are picking Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor in Lincoln. But Christoph Waltz’s performance in Django Unchained is beyond parallel.

Adele singing “Skyfall” from the one Bond film that should have been in the Best Picture category, Skyfall. Oh, but if the Academy picked a Bond film they wouldn’t be serious, now would they? At least James Bond will get a well deserved tribute, which can only have been inspired by Skyfall.

Best Actor is very likely to go to Daniel Day-Lewis who became Lincoln, and who can quibble? He was phenomenal. For me, even though I’ve never been a fan of “Les Mis,” and I saw it on Broadway when it debuted, Hugh Jackman is deserving of the Oscar in Les Miserable, though a long shot to get it, because he’s well outside the Academy community, which never bodes well for any nominee. A sleeper has emerged, Bradley Cooper, for Silver Linings Playbook.

Jessica Chastain was the glue to Zero Dark Thirty, a film that was unfairly criticized and tarred by people who didn’t even bother to see the film before opining. This is the stuff of creative destruction that the Academy abhors. It’s possible the negative press hurt her chances at the Oscar, with Jennifer Lawrence [of Hunger Games] in Silver Linings Playbook overtaking Chastain and now considered the favorite.

Ang Lee for Life of Pi, and Stephen Spielberg for Lincoln are in a dead heat for Best Director. Ben Affleck should have made this category for Argo, which was a terrible slight. If only the Academy allowed write-in votes, but they don’t, otherwise he would be the frontrunner.

As for Best Picture, wouldn’t it be tremendous if the nod went to ARGO? That’s the favorite right now, but Lincoln is not far behind. In fact, depending on whom you talk to you could get the opposite response. However, ARGO delivers a surprise piece of history, minus the issues raised by Jimmy Carter [who said the film was "a great drama"], which is also extremely entertaining and teaches a snippet of foreign policy, too, which rarely dents the American film goer’s mind.

Now, one last note, on which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science deserves applause. The acknowledgment for Beasts of the Southern Wilds, directed by Biehn Zeitlin, is truly what Oscar is all about. [Thank you Sundance and Robert Redford.] Promoting the movies, including these small, special projects of wonder and magic that captivate you with cinematic artistry and remind us all the essential reason we go to the movies. To be surprised by something we’ve never seen before.

Oh, and in case you haven’t heard the latest, Quvenzhané Wallis, who played Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wilds and is up for Best Actress tonight, was just announced as the new star in Will Smith’s Annie.

It’s been a great year for movies. Enjoy the Oscars… or if it’s not for you, rent a film. If nothing else you’ll be supporting the strongest unions [previous member of AFTRA, AGVA, SAG, and EQUITY, here] in America. You can’t lose.

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13 Responses to Celebrating Movies with Oscar, and Seth McFarlane

  1. newdealdem1 February 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Like you, Taylor, I love film and love to watch the Oscars every year. I think I only missed them twice when I was out of the country on business and had no access except in TV and newspaper reports.

    We all know that the best of whatever category doesn’t always win and that will happen tonight. Whist I haven’t seen all of the films nominated, I have seen Lincoln, Le Miz, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook.

    When these pics come around my neck of the woods, will go see them:

    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Amour

    Agree, Taylor, there has been lots of buzz about Emmanuelle Riva, who recently won the BAFTA (British Academy Award) for Best Actress. Some have said that Lawrence and Chastain voters split the vote between them giving Riva the edge. Perhaps that will happen again tonight.

    Here are my predictions:

    Best Picture:

    Will Win: Argo (which has benefited from the tarring of Zero Dark Thirty)

    Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty

    Note: Given the swiftboating of ZDT, I doubt it now has a chance. I hope I’m proved wrong. Given this, my next best would be Lincoln. BTW, I also believe Tarantino’s film was also swiftboated but of course for different reasons.

    Re: Les Miz: the best thing about this film is Hathaway. Honestly, I don’t know why it’s included in the Best Picture and Director categories.

    Best Director:

    Will Win: Stephen Spielberg, Lincoln

    Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty

    Note: Bigelow (and Stiller) wasn’t even nominated. Same as note above

    Best Actress

    Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence (momentum now), Silver Linings Playbook

    Should Win: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty

    Same swiftboating Note as above

    Best Actor:

    Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis (he just outshines the rest)

    Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

    Best Supporting Actress:

    Will Win: Ann Hathaway

    Should Win: Sally Field

    Best Supporting Actor:

    Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones (really superb performance), Lincoln

    Should Win: Tommy Lee Jones

    Best Adapted Screenplay:

    Will Win: Tony Kushner, Lincoln

    Should Win: Tony Kushner

    I think Kushner deserves the win although I think he’s a genius and would watch anything he wrote.

    Best Original Screenplay:

    Will Win: Mark Bole, Zero Dark Thirty

    Should Win: Mark Bole

    I think this will be the consolation prize for Zero Dark Thirty.

    “Chastain was the glue to Zero Dark Thirty, a film that was unfairly criticized and tarred by people who didn’t even bother to see the film before opining. ……..his is the stuff of creative destruction that the Academy abhors. It’s possible the negative press hurt her chances at the Oscar, with Jennifer Lawrence [of Hunger Games] in Silver Linings Playbook overtaking Chastain and now considered the favorite.”

    Open Rant:

    The swiftboating of Zero Dark Thirty infuriated me especially by (and, I’ll name him) Glenn Greenwald, whom I consider a self-appointed “morally superior” scribe and the “all knowing” daddy of political scolds. He was one who declared jihad on the film when he never even saw it. How anyone can tar and revile a film or piece of writing or performance without having seen the film or the performance or read the book stuns me and is the epitome of arrogance and anti-intelligence and just plain dumb. Some self-righteous scolds even went so far and low in their criticism (looking at you Naomi Wolf) to compare Kathryn Bigelow to Leni Riefenstahl (the Nazi’s film maker): can you tar and feather someone with a pen any more than that? I don’t think so. And, that was a truly low point in the unjust criticism.

    I think Bigelow, Boal and Chastain will not be hurt in future projects by this at least i hope so, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

    To put all of this into context, Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty were winning awards for Best Director, Best Picture, Actress and Writer (the NY Film Critics and Chicago Film Critics Awards are two that come to mind) and it was one of the most critically acclaimed films this year, but, but then came the self-righteous scolds whose own momentum convinced others of same and so put the kibosh on whatever momentum this film had and deserved.

    Close Rant

    Back to the lighter notes: ;)

    “Now, one last note, on which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science deserves applause. The acknowledgment for Beasts of the Southern Wilds, directed by Biehn Zeitlin, is truly what Oscar is all about. [Thank you Sundance and Robert Redford.] Promoting the movies, including these small, special projects of wonder and magic that captivate you with cinematic artistry and remind us all the essential reason we go to the movies. To be surprised by something we’ve never seen before. ”

    Totally agree! Especially to Sundance and Robert Redford (love him).

    • giantslor February 25, 2013 at 3:30 am #

      ZDT was not swiftboated. It really did give the impression that torture worked. Forget Greenwald, a former FBI interrogator of Al Qaeda said the movie’s depiction of torture was bunk.

      • Taylor Marsh February 25, 2013 at 8:27 am #

        giantslor – I’d be interested to know, did you see the film?

  2. fangio February 25, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    Lawrence won and Chastain did not because this country simply can’t come to terms with how disgusting it’s become. As for Michelle Obama helping to introduce the best picture nominations, it was appalling. The new royalty at the White house mixing with the old royalty in Hollywood to celebrate entertainment at a time when the country is on the brink of so much turmoil is a slap in the face to all those Americans whose lives will be affected.

    • angels81 February 25, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      Good god man, lighten up, this is entertainment not some political rally. Having the First Lady introduce the best picture nominations made for good TV. The First Lady is very well liked in this country, and the vast majority of people who tuned into the Oscars to be entertained were not offended by the First Lady.

      • fangio February 25, 2013 at 11:43 am #

        Your even more pathetic than I thought you were, silly!

        • angels81 February 25, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

          Back to name calling I see. You are the pathetic one, who can’t see threw your hate for everything Obama to see the Oscars for what they are…Entertainment, nothing more nothing less.

          • angels81 February 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

            Also, besides you calling me pathetic and silly, I see you didn’t refute anything I said.

          • Taylor Marsh February 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

            Not to get in the middle, BUT…

            THIS!!!

          • angels81 February 25, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

            Exactly my point. We all knew the right wing looney toon’s heads would explode, because anything Obama makes them go right off the rails. I really didn’t expect to see someone posting here the garbage that the wing nuts would be saying, seeing as they are a minority of the public, and small minded.

          • fangio February 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

            Yes, it’s entertainment and the Obama’s don’t belong there, not when the country is in the mess that it’s in. Of course, we should not be surprised since her husband went golfing with oil and gas execs while supposedly deciding on the XL pipeline. Your problem is simple: your a super partisan, you really don’t care what they do, you’ll always defend them, no matter what. In your sick little world anyone who criticizes your pal Obama is a right winger and an extremist. I voted for Obama in ’08 and I’ll be the first to tell you, both him and his wife are phony’s .

          • angels81 February 25, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

            fangio, last time I looked the First Lady wasn’t elected to any office. This is just petty BS, and should be beneath anyone with half a brain.

  3. jinbaltimore February 25, 2013 at 6:12 am #

    Oh no! They made Russell Crowe sing again!

    Also, for Fantine to be part of One Day More, she’d have to be a zombie.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong