My Thoughts On The 2013 Oscars

2013 Oscar Winners
Okay, let’s get the Seth stuff out of the way first — and allow me to set the stage for what I’m about to say here: I follow Seth MacFarlane on Twitter, and I watch Family Guy every week. For me, his humor quotient displayed on both media is hit-or-miss… while I find lots of his tweets and many moments of FG laugh-out-loud funny, slightly less than half of the time I’m just not amused at all. But that’s okay — as far as I’m concerned, the funny bits more than make up for the tweets/episodes that don’t do anything for me. Thus, I didn’t come into last night’s Oscars as either a knee-jerk Seth hater, nor as a he-can’t-do-anything-wrong Seth apologist. I had, I thought, an open mind about his prospects, as I sat down to watch. And indeed, in the first 2 or 3 minutes, I started to get quite optimistic about what kind of host he would be for the show. Then, things got a bit off-track. Then even more off-track. It seemed to me that Seth MacFarlane couldn’t decide what kind of host to be, and so, vacillating between opposing poles (but never really embracing either end of the spectrum), he came off to me as simply bland. The comedy was also off, overall. Jabs at the industry are to be expected from any Oscar host, but there’s a fine line, which is easily crossed. Many of his jokes came off as mean-spirited (like the one which ostensibly was aimed at Rex Reed, but at its core was making fun of Adele for being overweight). I think a good rule of thumb for anyone asked to emcee this event is, “Can you imagine Johnny Carson telling these exact jokes?” Johnny poked fun at nearly everyone, but in such a gently teasing way that it was nearly impossible for the butt of the joke to take offense. Johnny, after all, might have to look that person in the eye one day and interview them on his show. Seth’s humor last night was more in the vein of Howard Stern than Johnny Carson. But, Oscar host is admittedly one of the toughest showbiz gigs there is, and Seth MacFarlane was far from the worst. There were, in fact, moments where you could see a pretty decent host shining through the facade. So, while I won’t be upset if he doesn’t host again, it was surely far better than the Franco/Hathaway debacle.

Overall strangeness and numerous producing mistakes were also evident, though — in the very structure of the program itself — the countless abrupt changes of tone left my friend and I (on several occasions during the show) looking at each other and saying, “What’s going on?” or “Why is this happening?” Therefore, here are some of my thoughts on other aspects of the Oscarcast, not related to the host.

Having five members of the cast of The Avengers presenting an award was a bad decision. For one thing, you couldn’t see them all in one camera shot, making the “conversation” between them hard to follow. It also showed that as a whole, these guys don’t really appear to like each other that much. (Okay, mainly Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey, Jr. — but those two seem continually cranky and antagonistic, no matter the occasion.)

I love 007 movies, but that James Bond tribute was a complete snore.

I’m so over the whole “presenters do something wacky” (but of course totally scripted) thing. It’s never as clever as the writer thinks it’s going to be. Case in point, the (talented) Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy bit was one of many cringe-worthy moments, and I thought was very out of place for the Academy Awards. It’s not a comedy show. The Oscars are (or at least used to be) a classy institution. Just be respectful, and do straightforward introductions.

Nobody likes it when winners drone on and on, but it’s even worse when their microphones are cut off in the middle of a sentence. Even having someone physically drag the award recipient offstage would be better, since that would at least give them a chance to quickly shout out a few last words.

That having been said, I wish more attention would be paid to crafting and delivering an acceptance speech. There are numerous ways that the Academy could help with this. Jon Cassar (@joncassar) had a great idea on how to deal with winners who wish to read off a “laundry list” of names: Let each of the nominees submit a list of names of people they would like to thank, and scroll them underneath them as they accept their award. That way they can say something witty and be sincere without feeling like they are snubbing anyone. My own suggestion: Winners should take out an ad in Variety or The Hollywood Reporter, listing every name they would have included in their speech — for some, this will require a full-page ad, but it would be a much classier way of doing things than boring a billion people by yammering on with a list of names that 98% of the audience has never heard of.

In Memoriam needed more clips featuring the towering talents we lost in the last year, not just photos and the occasional sound bite from behind-the-camera folks. Barbra’s song should have also been under that segment, not a separate thing following it. As another commentator pointed out, it made Marvin Hamlisch seem more important than all the rest of the other artists combined.

I don’t want to put words in Ben Affleck’s mouth, but if I were to judge by his acceptance speech, it appears his marriage to Jennifer Garner is going through a rocky stretch. And as soon as he mentioned that fact in front of a billion people watching on television, he looked like wished he could have taken those words back. Awk-waaard!

As I first noticed during her Golden Globes acceptance speech, Adele is a hoot! Give this gal a talk show or a sitcom, stat!

If Daniel Day Lewis is going to be so bloody charming and unbelievably classy in all of his acceptance speeches, we need to keep giving him awards every freaking year until he dies or finally has enough of it all and quits show business to become a watchmaker or dairy farmer.

And on a personal note, I sucked with my Oscar picks this year, getting only 10 right. But I was so very pleased that DDL and Christoph Waltz won — at least on those two, the Academy and I are in complete agreement.

Maybe they should go for a host-less ceremony next year. It wouldn’t be the first time they tried it, but it might be time to revisit the idea. Whatever the choice, I’ll be watching.

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