7:53 pm: Stand by for the Who2 Oscar live blog. Our coverage will commence shortly.
Before we begin, a simple thought on the red carpet coverage: Why is Kelly Osbourne a fashion commentator? What qualifies her to comment on Oscar dresses? And has anyone ever seen her and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the same room at the same time?
8:32: MacFarlane seems nervous. If you’ve never done stand-up before, the Oscars is a pretty big stage to start on. He’s going right into the best picture descriptions, which is probably a good idea.
8:37: Wait, William Shatner! Always a welcome presence. They go into a little gag about Shatner coming back from the future to warn MacFarlane not to tell bad jokes.
8:42: On those reverse-angle shots the audience doesn’t really seem to be laughing at MacFarlane’s gags. They look a little tetchy, in fact. Is it possible that they’re piping in canned laughter?
8:47: Give the opening a solid B. A little nerve-wracking, but no spectacular flop.
8:51: Christoph Waltz for best supporting actor? What? That award was supposed to go to Tommy Lee Jones! Well, Jones won for The Fugitive already, but it’s been years. Waltz just won a few years ago for another Quentin Tarantino movie, Inglorious Basterds. No wonder he thanked Tarantino so effusively.
8:57: Paperman wins best animated short. Well, it’s a good one. Kinda makes up for the super-awkward introduction by Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy. How can those two not be funny, or at least charming?
9:07: Another super-awkward introduction by Robert Downey Jr. and friends. Are these some kind of inside jokes that aren’t quite working out? The intros seem more confusing than anything, like half-written bits that are being ad-libbed the rest of the way. People are talking over each other… on purpose, or–? Whatever the formula for snappy intros is, they don’t have it down.
9:14: A brief commercial interlude, and more Oscar red carpet photos are coming in. Let’s flash back to Amy Adams:
9:18: I’m still bugged about Tommy Lee Jones losing. It had to be the wig. The crazy wig did him in.
I know at the end of the movie they said “It was part of the story, see? You were supposed to notice the bad wig!” But by that time it was too late. He was already handcuffed to the bad wig.
(Maybe the William Shatner appearance early on was a subtle wig foreshadowing?)
9:25: Shirley Bassey is belting the Goldfinger theme, awesomely, but the sound is screwed up. The orchestra’s way too heavy in the mix. How is that possible at the Oscars?
Having just seen the James Bond clips, I am now officially willing to move Daniel Craig up to second-best on the all-time list of Bonds, behind the undeniable #1, Sean Connery. Timothy Dalton is a close third. I really think if Dalton had gotten better scripts, or maybe had just been in a better Bond era, he would be a much more popular Bond. As it was, he was in that awkward period where they were trying to make things serious again after the horribly jokey Roger Moore era, but they hadn’t really gotten Casino Royale-level serious. He’s still got the right cruel look for Bond.
All that said, I must admit that when I saw those brief flashes of Craig in the clips I thought, “Yeah!” So, he moves up to #2.
That still doesn’t mean that Skyfall was a great Bond film. It wasn’t.
9:50: Amour wins best foreign language film. Well, OK. Just don’t bet on it for best picture.
9:53: Wait, what? They show the Oscar show orchestra and they’re playing in a studio up the street? Even if it is the legendary Capitol Records building, it seems pretty weird. So, during these musical numbers, the band is playing along a mile away and the music is piped in for people to… to sing along to at a distance?
The biggest glam event of the year and you don’t want a live orchestra in the house? How is that different from just having canned music?
Meanwhile, John Travolta gets a huge hand from the audience. Still popular, obviously.
10:07: Frightening realization: Only halfway through the show.
So far, Seth MacFarlane has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde host. Here’s what’s not working: him joking about his jokes before and after he makes them. Look, if you’re going to make tasteless jokes, just make ’em. Let your freak flag fly! But the other half of the time, he seems to be almost too respectful of the whole affair. It’s odd.
At least he can wear a tux and looks the part.
10:17: It’s an Oscar tie for best sound editing, and all three winners (two men and one woman) have long, stringy blonde hair. They could have their own Edgar Winter tribute band.
10:19: Am I the only person who doesn’t really like the Dolby Theater for the Oscars? It just looks too small, and kind of chintzy, in the wide shots. It needs to be deeper and a little more colossal. It’s purpose-built for the Oscars… shouldn’t it look more impressive and less like a high-school auditorium? Just sayin’.
10:23: “It came true.” Anne Hathaway‘s first words after winning best supporting actress for Les Miserables. It seemed like her time, all right.
10:28: Flash back to the red carpet for some old-fashioned Hollywood glamour with Jessica Chastain:
That’s a dress Marilyn Monroe might have worn. Or Liberace.
10:37: Adele sings “Skyfall” with a live orchestra right behind her. (They’re still drowning her out, though.) Adele was born to sing a James Bond theme song. She’s awesome. “Skyfall” has to be a lock for best song.
10:52: Break for cold Chinese food…
10:57: Ernest Borgnine gets first position in the “in memoriam” reel of actors and crew members who’ve passed on. And that’s no small feat, with some big names on the block: Charles Durning, Nora Ephron, Ray Bradbury… but Beastie Boy Adam Yauch is the one who gets spontaneous applause from the audience.
11:16: It was a lock. Adele and Paul Epworth win the Oscar for best original song for Skyfall.
11:21: Finally getting to the major awards. Earlier, Quvenzhané Wallis showed us her guns, guns, guns:
She’s great. It’ll be a huge, huge shock if she wins best actress, but she’s a nine-year-old who’s soaking it all in.
11:23: I like Charlize Theron, but I hate that dress.
11:26: Quentin Tarantino wins the Oscar for best original screenplay for Django Unchained… and brings some super-fresh energy to the stage, godblesshim, while looking completely disheveled. They try to play him off when he pauses after his first thank-yous, but then he breaks back in to salute the other writers in the original and adapted screenplay categories. Before ending with a flashed peace sign and “Peace out.”
Tarantino’s had five Oscar nominations over the years: writing and directing for Pulp Fiction (1994), writing and directing for Inglorious Basterds (2009), and now for Django Unchained. He’s won twice, this year and for writing Pulp Fiction.
11:35: “Thank you, movie god.” Ang Lee‘s first words after winning the best director Oscar for Life of Pi. Wait, is it possible Life of Pi might be in the running for best picture, too? Surely not?
Ang Lee also won for the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain.
11:43: We’re on to best actress. Huge round of applause for young Quvenzhané Wallis. But the Oscar goes to…
Jennifer Lawrence! For Silver Linings Playbook. Play it crazy and the Academy will never let you down.
She takes a tumble on the stairs on the way to the stage, thanks to her awesome ivory gown.
George Clooney Hugh Jackman leaps into frame to help her up, but she’s already on her feet and back on the way up. She’s charmingly shocked and breathless.
11:48: Daniel Day-Lewis takes home best actor, as expected, for Lincoln. But he’s unexpectedly funny: referencing presenter Meryl Streep, he says “A few years ago, before we agreed to do a straight swap, I was supposed to play Margaret Thatcher.”
Also, in honor of Abraham Lincoln, Day-Lewis cut his own hair with an axe.
She gives a little inspirational speech about how Hollywood helps kids “dream just a little bigger… and strive every day to reach those dreams.” Well, maybe. She kicks it back to Nicholson.
The best thing is Jack Nicholson using his Jack Nicholson voice to introduce the nine best picture nominees one more time. And the winner is…
Wait, it’s back to Michelle Obama! She has her own envelope. And the Oscar goes to…
Now Affleck is rambling, thanking Canada, the people of Iran who are struggling now, and his wife Jennifer Garner, “who I don’t normally associate with Iran.” Good stuff.
Clooney is cool — doesn’t need to speak. He’s now won Oscars as producer and as best supporting actor (for Syriana, 2005). He’s also been nominated as a writer and director (for Good Night and Good Luck in 2005).
12:02 am: MacFarlane and Kristin Chenoweth wrap up with a jolly tune, “Here’s to the Losers.” They seem to be getting off some good lines, judging from audience laughter, but again the audio is muddy and we can’t really hear them.
12:11 am: Overall, a B-minus for this year’s Oscars. MacFarlane was competent but not great as a host. The disappointment is that he really was neither a terrific hit or a spectacular flop.
The staged gags and the musical segments were only half-inflated. Most of the show lacked a certain energy. Maybe they *should* keep the orchestra in the theater after all. (D-minus for the vocal sound quality, speaking of which.)
High points: Barbra Streisand singing “The Way We Were,” Jack Nicholson introducing the best picture nominees, and Jennifer Lawrence’s awesome Oscar gown.
Good night, everyone!