EVENT The Oscars 2013 had its share of suspense, surprises and upsets

Imagine Captain Kirk (good old William Shatner reprising his Star Trek avatar) coming back in time to establish contact with Dolby theatre right at the beginning of the show to stop Oscar host Seth MacFarlane from getting terrible reviews! “Worst Oscar host ever,” he shows him the next day’s headlines, adding: “Why couldn’t they get Tina and Amy to host?” MacFarlane gracefully responds saying that the hosts of the recent Golden Globes, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, would probably host the Oscars next year. And Kirk plays him a recording of the horrible opening act MacFarlane is supposed to have staged — a completely unprintable song about leading ladies who stripped on screen. He then shows him another clip involving MacFarlane being rude to Sally Field backstage. And scenes from Flight acted out through sock puppets. It was the best start to an Oscar night ever! Right from the very first joke MacFarlane made. About how the Academy messed up by forgetting to include Ben Affleck in the Best Director category. Unfortunately though, MacFarlane exhausted his best gags and lines within the first 15 minutes of the night.

But yes, it was a night of suspense, surprises and upsets where the Academy gave away the goodies almost evenly to make sure that all the big films that were nominated got something or the other to cheer about, except Zero Dark Thirty (that won just one consolatory technical award for Sound Editing which it shared with Skyfall ).

The good part first.

First, the sweetest surprise came in the form of Life of Pi leading the tally with four awards including Best Director for Ang Lee. While the technical awards for cinematography and visual effects were both expected, Ang Lee beating Spielberg for the big prize came as a shocker. Out of the blue. Well deserved and a very good call from the Academy because the reasons seem far from political. It was reward for a man who laboured to bring a difficult book to life on screen with just a boy and a computer generated tiger in the middle of the ocean. For half the length of the film! And Mychael Danna won Best Original Score for the film.

Second, Argo won three awards, including the top Best Film Oscar, with Ben Affleck getting to make a heartfelt, humble, inspiring and romantic speech. The Academy surely had the grace to make up for ignoring Ben Affleck in Best Director category and rewarding it the big prize, despite only two other prizes, including Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay. ( Les Miserables won three awards as well, including the most anticipated award for Anne Hathaway for Best Actress in Supporting Role, Make Up and Hair and Sound Mixing.)

Third, Daniel Day-Lewis made history becoming the only actor to win a Best Actor Oscar for the third time. Steven Spielberg didn't win. Understandably because if they both had to win, Spielberg would have won the Best Director Prize for the third time as well! And Lincoln was more an author-backed Oscar vehicle for the actor than the director.

Fourth, Django didn’t go silent. It won two of the big prizes. Best Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz and Best Original Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino, who fully credited his cast of actors for delivering his characters and making them memorable while acknowledging the other writers in the category.

Now to the bad bits.

First, Jennifer Lawrence, as solid an actress as she is, winning for a romantic comedy beating Jessica Chastain, Emmanuelle Riva and Naomi Watts who all had much difficult roles to portray, was the biggest upset of the night! Even the nine-year-old nominee from Beasts of the Southern Wild had a tougher role. Chastain probably deserved it most and lost out, thanks to the anti- Zero Dark Thirty wave (the film was criticised for being pro-torture despite Kathyrn Bigelow’s denial that “Depiction isn’t endorsement”).

Second, The Master was another unfortunate other victim of politics, neither Joaquin Phoenix nor Philip Seymour Hoffman or Amy Adams won. Phoenix, especially, who was miles ahead of the other actors in the fray, was ignored simply because Day-Lewis had to be rewarded for playing America’s most favourite President.

Third, as great as Pixar is, Brave wasn't their strongest film. Wreck it Ralph was robbed of the Best Animated feature prize.

And then there were the most expected segments.

Amour for Best Foreign Film after a spate of nominations including Best Director. The Bond montage and theme dominated the night with electrifying performances from Shirley Bassey ( Goldfinger ) and Adele ( Skyfall ). The performances really charged up the show when the jokes dried up.

That obnoxious Teddy Bear Ted did show up (voice by the host MacFarlane) to entertain everyone with political incorrectness. We wish it stayed on.

Sorry Captain Kirk, you couldn’t save it completely after all!

SUDHISH KAMATH

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