When the 85th Academy Awards started off with a major upset — Christoph Waltz taking Best Supporting Actor from heavily-favored Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones — I was ecstatic for two reasons. One is that I thought Waltz richly deserved it but never had a shot. The second was that I had picked Jones in my Oscar pool, so right away I could stop worrying about winning the pool and just enjoy the show.
My end result was 15-9 — not great, but I didn’t mind, because this was a rare year where I liked all nine of the Best Picture candidates (no “The Reader” or “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” in the bunch). The closest I came to dislike is “Les Miserables,” which I still gave three stars to and liked well enough.
So I was happy to see that eight of the nine Best Picture nominees went home with some kind of Oscar Sunday night (the outlier was “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” but that seemed almost too much to hope for). This was the most even-handed, widely-distributed Oscars I can remember — even my beloved “Skyfall” took home a couple, as well as a couple of shorts I was rooting for, the animated “Paperman” and the fantastic documentary short “Inocente.” All in all, a good night, and one that immediately made you want to go watch all those movies. Which I suppose is the underlying point.
Now, to Seth. Yes, the host that was hired to cross the line did indeed cross the line again and again. I thought the opening bit with William Shatner as a time-traveling James Kirk trying to stop MacFarlane was clever, in that it allowed MacFarlane to be inappropriate within a comic framework of admitting up front that it was inappropriate. Also, the “We Saw Your Boobs” song was kinda fun in a “Springtime for Hitler” sort of way. Sorry.
But that Kirk bit went on way too long, and just in general, there was way too much MacFarlane throughout the show. Not only were his jokes landing less and less as the show ground on, and seemed increasingly mean-spirited as he hit the same frat-guy “Chicks, amirite?” angle again and again, but the decision to have him do the coming-up bumpers before commercials meant we saw him a LOT. The good hosts know how to delegate a little, but MacFarlane was like that employee who stays late on nights and weekends, eager to please. He’s best in small doses, and we got a big dose last night.
I will say this — he owes the Onion huge today. Because but for them, everybody would be talking about how awful his Quvenzhane Wallis joke was and not theirs. You just don’t do that to a nine-year-old girl.
On the bright side, I think the sexism charges against MacFarlane may make the pendulum swing wide for next year and make it more likely that the Academy will hire Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.