The 85th installment of Sunday night’s Academy Awards was an evening of raw creative talent and highly emotional speeches. With hundreds of millions of people watching worldwide, every Oscar winner announced became progressively more unpredictable.
“Argo,” directed by and starring Ben Affleck, won three awards, including the Oscar for best picture, while the film adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel “Life of Pi” took home four awards, the most of the evening.
There was controversy surrounding the award for best director, being that Affleck was not nominated for best director for his direction of “Argo.” It was the first film to ever win best picture despite not having its director also up for nomination.
Surprisingly, “Life of Pi’s” Ang Lee won the award, beating out Steven Spielberg’s direction of “Lincoln.”
Affleck’s best picture was the last award to be given, presented by actor Jack Nicholson and First Lady Michelle Obama via satellite from the White House.
The category contained the major films of the award ceremony including “Amour,” for which Michael Haneke won best foreign language film, as well as commercial hits, such as “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Misérables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
In Affleck’s speech, he reflected upon receiving his first Oscar win for “Good Will Hunting.”
“I stood up here, 15 years ago, just a kid,” Affleck said, appreciating how far he had evolved as a first-time director.
Another rookie at this year’s Oscars was host Seth MacFarlane, the 39-year-old creator of the popular animated sitcom “Family Guy,” which is foreknown for cutaway gags, ribald satire and controversial humor.
MacFarlane, the unsuspected choice, casually commenced the opening of the show with a string of sharp one-liners launched at a selection of Hollywood’s big names.
His male-centric humor immediately became evident during his opening number “We Saw Your Boobs,” a musical tribute to female frontal nudity in the movie industry, with all provocative notes successfully reached.
However, being director of the 2011 comedy film “Ted,” which became the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy picture of all time, MacFarlane has a comedic reputation to uphold with limited boundaries.
Receiving a mixture of laughs and groans during his skits, MacFarlane jabbed Daniel Day-Lewis, Rihanna, Chris Brown and George Clooney, to name a few.
He predicted his hosting job would earn mixed reviews, so he produced a comedy act with actor William Shatner, who joined MacFarlane on stage via video screen, portraying his former character, Captain Kirk, from sci-fi TV and film series “Star Trek,” warning MacFarlane to celebrate the movies rather than mock them.
Responding to Shatner’s words of wisdom “from the future,” MacFarlane showcased his respectful vocal skills and dance moves, singing “The Way You Look Tonight” while Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum waltzed. He then danced a three-way soft-shoe number with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe. He concluded the evening with Kristin Chenoweth, as the two sang a duet of “Here’s to the Losers.”
MacFarlane wasn’t the only star to perform during the awards; in fact, his provocative performances were practically forgotten after veteran singer Shirley Bassey took to the stage to perform her title song from the 1964 film “Goldfinger.” The 50th anniversary salute to James Bond’s film brought the return of now 76-year-old Bassey, as well as Grammy Award winner Adele, who picked up the Oscar of best original song for “Skyfall” from the latest 2012 Bond film.
Adele shared the award with Paul Epworth moments after Norah Jones beautifully performed “Everybody Needs a Best Friend.” The British soul singer was brought to tears during her speech as she thanked her family.
The 2002 film musical Chicago was also celebrating its 10th anniversary at the Oscars as members of its original cast – including University of Massachusetts alumnus Richard Gere – performed “All That Jazz.”
Christopher Waltz was awarded the Oscar for best actor in a supporting role for “Django Unchained,” his second win after “Inglourious Basterds” in 2010.
Predictably, Day-Lewis won best actor for his acclaimed role in “Lincoln.” It was the third time he won the award, following his performances in “My Left Foot” and “There Will Be Blood.”
For the women, Anne Hathaway won best supporting actress for her role in the musical film “Les Misérables,” an aspiring dream for the 30-year-old star, who was overwhelmed with shock and joy.
The award for best actress was a less predictable category with a range of actresses in the running.
At nine years old, Quvenzhane Wallis was the youngest actress to ever be nominated for an Oscar for her role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” while Emmanuelle Riva at 86 was also nominated for her role in “Amour.”
However, it was Jennifer Lawrence who came away with the award for her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook.” The 22-year-old received a standing ovation as she fell up the stairs on her way to receiving the award dressed in a Dior Haute Couture gown.
The biggest shock of the night was Claudio Miranda winning the Oscar for best achievement in cinematography for “Life of Pi.” Roger Deakins was predicted to win after being nominated 10 times over the past 19 years for the award. Miranda was clearly equally as shocked as the audience, beginning his speech by saying, “I can’t even speak.”
Overall, the 2013 Oscars were, as always, a glittery success. With a star-studded audience, gifted performers and brilliant movies at hand, the only annoyance was the advert breaks.
MacFarlane may not have satisfied all viewers, but he was refreshingly original, bringing a new style of humor to the table.
Steph Cann can be reached at [email protected]