Commenting on Daniel Day Lewis’ acting prowess in Lincoln, Oscars host Seth MacFarlane delivered with a smug smirk “the only person who got into Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth.” And as silence filled the room, he quipped “What? 150 years later and it’s too soon, huh?”
This year’s Oscars was controversial not because of the nominees and of its winners, but because of the television show Family Guy creator MacFarlane spewing the crude jokes of a state school fraternity frat boy. While MacFarlane often pitched the easiest of jokes, it is comforting he could be so politically incorrect on live television; not only in front of the American masses, but also the Hollywood elite.
With the Oscar nominees of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Flight, and Inocente, the year 2012 gave the impression of awareness for racial inequalities. Macfarlane’s tastelessness (“if tonight’s show isn’t gay enough yet”) at least dismissed the illusion of an egalitarian society as America continues to struggle with social distinctions, as seen through the subject matter of these aforementioned films.
The night’s winners weren’t shocking, except when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall tied for Best Editing, as a tie has only happened twice before in 1932 and 1968. Anne Hathaway’s award for Best Supporting Actress was a given, though Christopher Waltz in Django Unchained was a pleasant surprise. Daniel Day Lewis gave a very humbling speech for Best Leading Actor, with giving his final thanks to the spirit of Abraham Lincoln.
And it was the humility in these select speeches that became the most refreshing moments of the night, in spite of the host’s self-indulgent humor and Quentin Tarantino’s narcissistic acceptance for Best Original Screenplay. The nominees for Best Picture were all great contenders, as director Ben Affleck of Argo sped through his speech in awe and gratitude. Likewise with Ang Lee for Best Directing in Life of Pi.
The live performances overwhelmed the awkward silences when Shirley Bassey sang “Goldfinger” for the 50th year anniversary of the James Bond franchise. Other acts included Adele bending her vocal range with “Skyfall,” and Dream Girls’ Jennifer Hudson stealing the show with “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
During a night of indecent humor, the Best Documentary acceptance speech for Inocente best reminded what the Oscars had forgotten when Sean Fine said “We need to start supporting the arts, because they're dying in our community.”