A night at the Oscars
In a ceremony known as the biggest night in Hollywood, where an abundance of famous faces crowd the red carpet energized and fingers crossed for their name to be announced as one of the award winners, the Oscars not only symbolize great achievement in filmmaking but also pay tribute to various people and how their talents have contributed to the industry of cinema. On Feb. 24, the Academy Awards showcased a long list of winners – many expected, though there were a few surprises and upsets.
What made this year’s Oscars not as exciting as the past few years was the predictability of the outcomes for many of the top awards. Daniel Day-Lewis’s historical performance in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln was expected by nearly everyone in the audience to be the main contender for best actor, as was the winner for best actress, Jennifer Lawrence, for her portrayal of a mildly off-her-rockers widow in Silver Linings Playbook. Anne Hathaway’s winning of best supporting actress for her role as Fatine in Les Misérables was also something many were not surprised to see, as Hathaway had been receiving the award in various other ceremonies prior to the ceremony. But probably the most expected, as well as the most debatable, was best picture winner Argo.
Initially, many believed that Spielberg’s Lincoln would win the highest honor, especially considering that Ben Affleck did not receive a nomination for best director (only three times have films won best picture without being nominated for best director as well). But as award shows such as the Golden Globes and many others began honor Argo with best picture, suddenly the film was once again considered a large contender for the best picture race. Eventually, Argo did win, leaving many skeptical as to whether it was due to it actually being worthy of the award, or if the Academy just felt sorry for Affleck’s snub.
This year’s Academy Awards was supposed to be centered on the dedication to music in film. However, the show itself did not feel like it truly demonstrated the power that melodies have in illustrating a movie’s depth and emotion. While there were several live performances of songs, including Adele’s performance of Skyfall from the latest Bond film (which eventually won for Best Original Song) and a beautiful medley sung by the cast of best picture nominee Les Misérables, there wasn’t much to boast about when it came to honor music in film. Best Original Score, an award often looked over, was given to Mychael Danna, a newcomer film composer whose works have been looked over by the academy for years. His talents have ranged from the dramatic-comedy (500) Days of Summer to the fantastical oddity of Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Now, garnering his first nomination and Academy Award for his work with Life of Pi, it was a joy to see Danna to be recognized for a talent he’s held for far too long.
Other winners that night included Quentin Tarantino’s second award for best original screenplay for Django Unchained (another award foreseen by many) and – a bit of a surprise – Ang Lee’s Best Director for Life of Pi. Many thought that Spielberg would have won in the best director category, but Ang Lee’s win was something he deserved, as he was able to direct a film based on a book that was thought to be impossible to transform into the world of cinema.
Animation is a world often overlooked by the Academy. For Best Animated Short, Disney’s Paperman – a short seen in theatres by many as it was shown previous to Wreck-It-Ralph – won a well-deserved Oscar. It’s animation style, with a mixture of black-and-white 2D and 3D animation, was stunning and led the story of the film without the help of any dialogue. For Best Animated Film, Pixar’s Scottish tale of a redheaded, fire-hearted princess and her relationship with her mother won. This year saw three stop-motion features nominated (Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, and The Pirates! Band of Misfits) as well as Disney’s Wreck-It-Ralph (Disney’s closest to winning in the category so far).
Overall, the Academy Awards were at most predictable, with many of the highest honors already figured by many watching. None the less, it still held many surprises that will be remembered as we travel into another year of cinema.