After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of the 2013 Oscars

My three favourite things about the 2013 Oscars were Seth MacFarlane, Shirley Bassey and Michelle Obama. I’ll get to the overall ceremony later.

 Seth MacFarlane: I’m sure many people were expecting Seth to be all Family Guy and politically incorrect, and while he did have a few Rick Gervais-style zingers, he kept very classy. (Though the twitter feed WestWingReports thought he went over the line with his John Wilkes Booth joke). I loved his singing, his timing was great, and he was family-friendly. Plus, bringing out Captain James Tiberius Kirk to help open the show and tell him what not to do was a brilliant bit, although it may have dragged on a little bit too long. A solid effort up there with Billy Crystal and Jon Stewart.

 Shirley Bassey: On the whole, I thought the James Bond tribute sucked big time. Out of all the possible Bond Women available, the Academy goes and picks Halle Berry??!! Ursula Andress would have been the way to go. And, they didn’t bring out Sean Connery (or any Bond for that matter), that would have put it over the top. Bassey looks great for 76 and can still the high notes almost 50 years after originally performing the Goldfinger theme.

 Michelle Obama: I’ve lost count of how many times Jack Nicholson has presented best picture in the last ten years. I think everyone in the Rio theatre, as well at the Oscar ceremony, was shocked when the First Lady was announced and came up on screen. What a classy way to the end the show. It would have been serendipitous if Mrs. O announced Lincoln as the winner, but a government-themed film still won nonetheless, and that may have been the biggest shocker of the night.

 Which brings me to….

 The Awards: there were no real big surprises this year, though there were some audible oohs when Christoph Waltz triumphed over Tommy Lee Jones. Most of the expected winners won: Anne Hathaway, Amour, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence. The biggest question mark of the night was whether it was going to be Spielberg or Ang Lee, but the fact that one of them one is not surprising in the least. The fact that Argo won is not without merit. Affleck was the darling of the award season, with Argo receiving much praise at many ceremonies. Perhaps the Academy felt bad about the director snub and gave him best picture instead.


In Memoriam: first things first, my utmost praise to whomever insisted on including Adam “MCA” Yauch in the video segment. Well done my friend. Not surprisingly, the biggest cheers (at least at the Rio anyway) were for Yauch, Nora Ephron and Michael Clarke Duncan. While Marvin Hamlisch got a fitting tribute – though I wasn’t wild about Streisand – I was stunned that Ephron didn’t get her own personal recognition, considering how she pretty much invented the modern romantic comedy genre. Meg Ryan should have said something for crying out loud. Or this would have been the perfect opportunity for a Billy Crystal cameo.


The show ran about 30 min past its allocated television and no one seemed. I miss the days of the five-hour Oscar telecast. Back then, the show had everything: performances from the best original nominees, the original score nominees, the Life Achievement Oscar presented as part of the main ceremony. Now – as my red carpet date put it – the producers are cheapening the telecast. They are making the acceptance speeches shorter (cutting off one winner when he started to talk about Union politics), having many presenters do multiple awards, and what was with announcing three best picture nominees at once. Also, still not a big fan of having more than five Best Picture nominees. Also, the fact that the orchestra was not even in the same building as the actual ceremony was mind-boggling.


Canada: after pressure from former ambassador Ken Taylor and former President Jimmy Carter, both writer Chris Terrio and director Ben Affleck thanked Canada in their acceptance speeches to roaring applause from the Rio audience. Besides our country getting praise, two individual Canadians also took home awards tonight – Jim Erickson, who won Production with Rick Carter for Lincoln, is from Saltspring Island; and Mychael Danna who scored Life of Pi was born in Winnipeg and now lives in Toronto.


I’m glad my future wife won best actress, but I’m worried about how the so-called Oscar curse will affect. Luckily, she is talented enough that I don’t think it will be a problem.


Overall grade: I give Seth MacFarlane a B+ for hosting, but the show itself gets a C.



More in Film

Howdy, Modi

Patwardhan's "Reason" at VIFF; Gods, guns and goondas in "World's largest democracy"

From China to VIFF: Cinéma Virtualité

Hungry Ghosts: invisible exhibitionists livestream online in Zhu Shengze's "Present.Perfect"

Please touch the artwork

Edo Avant Garde & Ursula von Rydingsvard: cutting edge concretism, old & new, East & West @ VIFF
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.