1024px-Replicas_of_Academy_Award_statuette_2I don’t often do reviews but a good Oscar night, the film buff’s Super Bowl, is worth noting so here goes.

I have three criteria that separate a “good” Oscar Night from a “bad” one”

A) I did not feel bored.

B) I did not complain of boredom.

C) None of my friends at our Oscar Party made reference to A or B.

That’s it.


The Oscar happen whether the awards show airs or not. The votes are tallied and, in most cases, the end result is predictable (although there were several wonderful upsets last night – (Christopher Waltz, Ang Li come to mind).

So what kept the show from the dreaded boredom that can ruin the event.

1) Production numbers focused on the performers and not huge sets.

2) The whiplash effect of moving from respect to irreverence was like a good roller coaster ride.

3) McFarland had the singing, dancing, and funny man chops to move the show along.

4) And the orchestra, situated blocks away was more effectively used since there were no constraints imposed by being front and center in the Great Hall. It served as the Time Limit Enforcer holding down the understandable but schedule destroying acceptance speeches.

One Complaint. Voiced often: Get rid of the groups of presenters. What is supposed to be memorable repartee  falls flat or just gets messy. The Avengers presentation last night actually hurt. Give the award winners a few more minutes to gush.

But what really makes an Oscars night memorable are a few peak moments. Mine were:

1) Christopher Waltz for Best Supporting Actor– I was forced to see Django Unchained in the company of several friends (we have a pact that requires we honor each others film choices in rotation) and the film was redeemed by one of the quirkiest performances I have ever seen.

2) Lincoln for Best Production Design. I am a historian and the film had a feeling of raw, gritty reality capturing the period that I thought transported the audience to 1865.

3) Searching for Sugarman as Best Documentary. I am one of the very few who knew Sixto Rodriguez’s name before the documentary. I had “followed” him as a college kid attracted by Bob Dylan Lyrics, James Taylor Sound, and Simon/Garfunkel instrumentation. To see him come into his own now is a wonder.

4) Skyfall for Best Original Song. I am a fan of good Bond films (which means about half of them) but there have been few Great Songs. Among them Goldfinger, Nobody Does It Better, Live or Let Die and now, Skyfall.

5) And that Made for Oscar’s Night Pairing of Jack Nicholson and Michelle Obama. Not a natural mix but it worked because of the stark contrast between the two. Jack looking barely dressed up at all with his ill fitting tux, mussed hair, askew dark glasses, and his perpetual snarl and Michelle in one of the White House’s gorgeous State Rooms, dressed in Red Carpet Splendor, backed up by Marines in dress uniform (Marine Band Members?) and sooooooo well spoken.

MICHELLE WAS THE SMOOTH LIQUEUR AT EVENING’S END (and the cause of more than a few gag reflexes from the Right). What a great night cap!

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Hey Murph – I was more or less dragooned into watching the Oscars this week, since I was with friends who wished to carry on their tradition of Oscar night. Overall it was fun, but I’m in a deep sulk about the overlooking of Beasts of the Southern Wild. I did not expect that tiny Quevenzhane would win best actress (in fact I think that would be wrong given all the years others have worked) but the film is now one of the top two of my entire life for wonderfulness, and it did not even get a mention in virtually every write up and in the overall presentations. It was stunning – and amazing because every time I projected something horrid was going to happen, the simple acts of human kindness shown by the actors belied my expectations and fears.

I loved “Lincoln” – I agree that it was the first time the grit and reality of the time was fully fleshed out in the man, the surroundings, the racial issues, the slimy politics to achieve greatness. I suddenly understood Lincoln as a real person – NOT the granite monument of supernatural proportions. It made the accomplishments all the more powerful. I loved it, DD Lewis’ portrayal, and the story behind the event we all knew.

But I will always love “Beasts” best. Having it get no real recognition seems to me another major oversight about what happens to film that have Black people as the heroes, Black people as the stars, Black people as powerful. Thank GOD for Michelle or I’d think Hollywood had become the GOP House of Reps. They still have a long way to go, but Michelle put them wise.

Thanks for the review, Murph. Look forward to next year!


I did not see Beasts and it sounds like I will have to run it down. Another problem hollywood has is in the person of Stephen Spielberg and now it seems Ben Affleck. It is mystifying to me how a film could win for best picture and snub the director. The Director makes it all possible, schedules, calling scenes completion etc etc. Of course the actors make a movie too but if the actors were good enough for the film to win, how could the director not be good enough? Same with Spielberg.


The Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture have been very closely linked throughout their history. Of the 85 films that have been awarded Best Picture, 62 have also been awarded Best Director.[1] Only four films have won Best Picture without their directors being nominated: Wings (1927/28), Grand Hotel (1931/32), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and Argo (2012).


Hey Murph

Good write up on the Oscars. I am one of the few who refuses to watch them or any awards shows unless it is People’s Choice or American Music Awards. I used to watch them religiously and we would have people over and all but probably have not seen a show since sometime in 95. I just got tired of all the narcissism and patting their own backs.

My first disappointment in that department was with The Color Purple. A movie that has withstood the test of time and the academy more or less ignored it. Was the story line a bit too true for them to acknowledge? I also had to think twice when Marlon Brando refused his award for the godfather because of Hollywood’s terrible treatment of native americans. Then Hattie McDaniel won her Oscar however could not sit at the big table up front with the other cast members because the Ambassador Hotel was still segregated. She was relegated to a table in the back of the room. Hollywood did nothing to correct these wrongs. Those are the kinds of things I want to see happen at the Oscars. I guess I would just rather make my own decisions about what films I want to see. Life of Pi, Lincoln, Argo, Django Unchained, Flight were all good movies IMHO. I don’t need people in Hollywood telling me what movies are good because that is just their own humble opinion yet they continue to parade around every year because they are so narcissistic. All that money could be better spent helping out people who need operations they cannot afford, donating to food banks, donating to wildlife organizations. Doing something lasting because while films are good entertainment, they can not take the place of a human caring about others.

I drive my daughter nuts because she loves all that red carpet stuff. I tried a few years ago to watch it with her but ended up reading my book after all.


I thought Michelle Obama reading the winner of the Best Picture was a total surprise but a nice one. I don’t know if I would say this was one of the best Academy Awards show but I stayed tune and online with Yahoo coverage. That was fun to see the comments live and I made several that actually got published. My main complaint was the so called James Bond Tribute. That wasn’t much of a tribute after all the hype it had been getting. I did love seeing and hearing Shirley Bassey sing Goldfinger. At 76 she sounded great. But that was it except for a few fast clips from past movies. I thought that was a real let down. I have no complaints on the winners and liked how they were really spread out with many different pictures getting honored. Why they left Andy Griffin out of the memorial is beyond me. A Face In The Crowd is a classic and who can forget No Time For Sergeants. That was a big overlook. I loved Life of Pi and I did enjoy Django and was so happy Waltz won since I thought he did an excellent job. A very good film that was overlooked was Flight. I don’t think it got the attention it deserved and Denzel was just fantastic as the pilot with a drug and achcohol addiction. And, of course, who couldn’t enjoy seeing Barbra Streisand singing Memories. Wonderful!

I agree with you, Murph, on having the presenters do a stand up act before reading the names. Just read the names and give the award to the winner and let them speak. That is a lot of waste of time and they usually aren’t that funny. McFarland did his best at trying to keep it rolling and entertaining. I thought he fell flat at times but that has to be a very hard job. How do you make people laugh when so many in the audience are nervous and anxious for you to just get to the awards! Finally, I thought there were some very good movies this year and I saw all of them except Amour. Hope next year will at least be as good if not better!


I was surprised at how McFarland appeared so comfortable doing a job that usually seems to stress out most who try. The humor was a little adolescent at times but edgier than most years…probably Chris Rock was the last host who was dangerously edgy.

I agree 100% about the dumb joke chatter given to the presenters, it is so predictable and stiff, never clever. I heard an NPR promo for an interview with someone who’s been writing the Oscar quips for years as if that was something to be proud of (I made sure to change the station). That’s like celebrating Mitt Romney’s 47% speechwriter.

One of my favorite bits was the sock puppet re-enactment of Flight.

As for the winners of the awards, I was most happy about Ang Lee winning for directing Life of Pi which IMO, was hands down the best film of the year. Argo was a good fit for the Oscar voters, a film about Hollywood saving Americans but I don’t see it as a remarkable film, one that people will be watching 10 years from now while I think Life of Pi will stand up for many years to come.

I’m one of those people who just didn’t connect with Django Unchained so Tarantino winning seemed more about Hollywood politics than anything else.

Overall, when one compares this Oscars to last year with James Franco hosting and the painfully premeditated focus on young (not so talented) actors to goose the ratings with that important demo, this year’s was far better indeed.