Every year, whether I want to or not, I not only watch the Academy Awards on TV, but am expected to make predictions for every category.
This is one of the rules (traditions?) of my marriage to Yvonne, who knows more about movies than I, and every year (except one in living memory) she clobbers me in picking the winners.
This year, in Mexico, was no exception.
We huddled in our rented condo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Cancun, noted our choices, and again Yvonne crushed me.
In the process of watching the Oscars over the years, I feel I’ve become something of an expert in how they are run.
Without any hesitation at all, it’s my opinion that the 2013 version of the Oscars was the worst, most boring, most unimaginative and inept presentation in the history of movies.
That may seem a bit extreme, but it’s a rational judgment.
Where, in the name of sanity, did they get the master of ceremonies Seth MacFarlane? And why?
It’s not that he was out of his depth – after all, he’s a professional. He was utterly un-funny, nary a suggestion of wit, not a scintilla of reason why he was selected as host.
Heck, he even said at one point this was his first – and last – gig as Oscar host.
Yvonne suggested he was getting a million dollars to be there. Maybe, but why?
Those of a certain vintage can recall when Bob Hope annually hosted the Oscars, and everyone knew what was coming. Hope was eternal, and an ideal fit.
What happened to Billy Crystal – whom I thought an excellent, mischievous host. Or Steve Martin? If nothing else, Seth MacFarlane wrecked the evening – which was on the path of destruction anyway.
The crowning indignity was awarding the best picture to Argo – a throwback to the days when Hollywood re-wrote historical reality to make Americans the heroes, regardless of whether they were or weren’t. Like John Wayne winning all wars.
Argo was about the rescue of American hostages in the Iran of the Ayatollah in 1980 – a historical reality that Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor masterminded.
Even Jimmy Carter, U.S. president at the time and arguably one of America’s worst presidents, has noted that Ken Taylor and Canadians were the reason the hostages escaped, not a CIA operative as depicted in Ben Affleck’s movie.
Those with memories may recall that Ken Taylor was something else. In Iran, he did the right thing – not the diplomatic thing, but the humanitarian thing. He arranged for hostages to be hidden and facilitated their escape and, in a sense, by his nerve, dedication and resolve forced the Canadian government to go along with his daring ploy.
As a result, Taylor became a quiet folk-hero to many Americans. But one always felt he was rather resented by Canadian colleagues who lacked his flair.
Ken Taylor and Canada got a nod from Affleck, but his movie did not deserve to be the best of the year.
Clearly the most imaginative movie was the Life of Pi, also with Canadian connections. Seeing it is an astounding experience.
As for the pre-Oscar favourite Lincoln, without Daniel Day-Lewis it is just another civil war movie. With three Academy Awards to his name, Day-Lewis is arguably the greatest movie actor of his day, along with Meryl Streep whose every performance seems to warrant an Oscar nomination.
Anyway, in retrospect, an awful evening of television.
And, if I last, I’ll have to go through it next year.