Affleck, Argo snare the top Oscar: Best Picture
ACTOR-director Ben Affleck had a fair bit to say during his Best Picture acceptance speech at this week’s Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood.
Apart from saying life deals out a lot of hardships and people have to just get back up after being knocked down he also mentioned there was no point “in holding grudges” in Tinseltown. Clearly a dig at some in the Hollywood establishment who had shunned him as an actor in the past. Or shown him the door when he laid out plans for a potential movie.
No matter now. His Iran rescue mission film, in which six United States embassy staff were whisked away from the safe haven of the Canadian ambassador’s house in Tehran, was announced by First Lady Michelle Obama, in a link to the White House, as the year’s most outstanding movie. Deservedly so, I thought, even though I’d placed it No. 3 in my Top Ten for 2012.
It’s a gripping film and Affleck is great as real-life CIA operative Tony Mendez. The only blemish was the closing scene – the frantic dash down the runway by Iranian intelligence officers shooting from their vehicles as the Swissair jet starts to pick up speed, ready for take-off. Just didn’t happen!
Similarly in the last scenes from Django Unchained. Now I know writer-director Quentin Tarantino won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, but those closing scenes on the cotton plantation were hard to accept.
Apart from Django shooting down just about every white overseer on the Leonardo di Caprio character’s sprawling estate, his final departure was cartoon-ish. Re-united with his enslaved wife, his steed performs a little routine which would do credit to one of those Spanish dancing horses.
Not just the 360-degree turn, mind you. Although that is performed. Then comes the whole, high-stepping prance with both forelegs curled and extended. Once again, I don’t think so!
But it was a typical Tarantino gore-fest and Christoph Waltz thoroughly deserved his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He plays the dentist turned bounty hunter with his command of the English language just a little too sophisticated for the majority of southern boys he brushes up against. He’s pretty handy with the six-shooter as well.
Adele (Adkins) sung her Oscar award-winning song from Skyfall, one of many musical numbers performed on the night.
I had to google some of the other performers as the Academy Awards rolled on. Just to confirm their ages.
Shirley Bassey belted out her theme from Goldfinger, in a segment celebrating 50 years of James Bond films. And Barbra Streisand sang The Way We Were in a tribute to composer Marvin Hamlisch who passed away during 2012. Bassey is now 76 years of age (and struggled a tiny bit with the higher registers in Goldfinger), Streisand is 70 while Jane Fonda who came on with Michael Douglas to present one of the later Oscars is just a year younger than Bassey: she’s 75. Christopher Plummer tops this lot, though. He’s 83.
I was happy to see Daniel Day-Lewis snare his third Oscar for Best Actor. Although Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a tad ponderous, Day-Lewis’ performance as the 16th president of the United States is mesmerising. When he thunders in his Cabinet meeting he’s the President “clothed in immense powers” and that they will get him the votes in the House needed to pass the amendment abolishing slavery, the Oscar was his. Right there.
Hard though it is to compare roles, Denzel Washington as the chief pilot in Flight who takes control of aircraft when he’s either boozed or doped – or both – is also compelling. When he flies his stricken commuter jet upside down to arrest a catastrophic free-fall, Washington is at his best. He was a worthy contender for Best Actor, but Day-Lewis was always going to win.
Tommy Lee Jones was also well fancied for Best Suppporting Actor in his role as radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln, but was pipped by Waltz for that Oscar.
It’s the best performance I’ve seen from Jones in a long while. Funny wig, or not, he was convincing.
Stevens marshalled the votes Lincoln needed to get the anti-slavery Bill though the House of Representatives.
We’re going to see Jessica Chastain (a candidate for Best Actress) in Zero Dark Thirty later this week. She was great in a small-ish role in Lawless as was Jennifer Lawrence in a bigger performance in Winter’s Bone two years ago. So it wasn’t a great surprise to see Lawrence take out Best Actress for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.
As a non-attender at cinemas screening musicals or films which incorporate a lot of songs, I can’t comment on the fortunes of Les Miserables. But I do know Anne Hathaway, not least for her sparkling performance as the Vogue editor’s assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. So she is clearly a worthy winner of Best Supporting Actress as Fantine in Les Mis.
Although it has to be said Amy Adams was terrific as cult leader Lancaster Dodd’s wife in The Master and was a contender for Best Supporting Actress. She is the unaccredited power-behind-the-throne to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s charismatic religious sect figurehead Dodd, loosely based on the real-life L. Ron Hubbard.
Joachim Phoenix is the troubled ex-World War 2 veteran Dodd works on as a potential successor. Phoenix was a contender for Best Actor, but was never going to topple Day-Lewis in what we felt was a strangely plodding movie.
And finally. Writer Chris Terrio won Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on CIA operative Tony Mendez’ book. He penned the script for Argo.
It was the third Oscar for Argo as the movie had also won for Film Editing.