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.