East Penn Press

Monday, May 25, 2020

Oscars for one and one for all

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 by The Press in Focus

Among the dozens of entrants in the annual Lehigh Valley Press Focus section Readers Pick the Oscar Recipients contest, not one person correctly picked all recipients in the contest's seven categories.

Karen Drake of Whitehall picked six out of seven. For the director Oscar, she chose Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln," instead of the recipient, Ang Lee, "Life of Pi."

Karen will receive a $50 Penn's Peak gift card, Roxy Theatre tickets, a Lehigh Valley Press prize package and have her photo in the Focus section.

I was also six for seven. I correctly picked: "Argo," picture; Ang Lee, "Life of Pi," which led Oscar recipients with four, including cinematography, visual effects and original score; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln," actor; Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook," actress; Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables," supporting actress; and "Brave," animated feature.

I missed with Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained," supporting actor. I chose Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln." I still hold that Waltz's role in "Django," for which director Quentin Tarantino received an original screenplay Oscar, was a lead actor role.

As expected, Oscar spread the gold at the 85th Academy awards Feb. 25. That's not surprising because 2012 was a very good year for cinema, critically and commercially.

As of Feb. 22, the nine Oscar picture nominees neared the $1-billion club, receiving more than $944 million, or an average of $105 million, at the box office.

"Argo," which received three Oscars, including adapted screenplay for Chris Terrio and editing, has grossed $132 million. "Life of Pi" has grossed $116 million. "Silver Linings Playbook" has grossed $115 million. "Les Miserables" has grossed $147 million. "Django Unchained" has grossed $160 million. "Lincoln" has grossed $180 million. "Brave" has grossed $237 million.

The 85th Oscars had several firsts.

Daniel Day-Lewis is the first actor to receive three Oscar actor awards, this time for portraying Abraham Lincoln in "Lincoln," which received two Oscars, including production design. Day-Lewis previously won for "There Will Be Blood" (2007) and "My Left Foot" (1989).

"Argo" was the first film to receive an Oscar for picture when the director wasn't nominated since "Driving Miss Daisy" in 1990.

"Silver Linings Playbook" was the first film to receive nominations in all four acting categories since "Reds" in 1981.

Emmanuella Riva, at 85, was the oldest to be nominated for an actress Oscar for "Amour," which received the foreign film Oscar.

Jessica Tandy was the previous oldest, nominated at 80 for "Driving Miss Daisy."

Riva's 86th birthday was Feb. 25, the date of the 85th Oscar telecast.

Quvenzhane Wallis, at 9, was the youngest actress Oscar nominee, for "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

The erratic, uneven and often frustrating Oscars telecast was filled with unpredictability -- and we're not only talking about host Seth McFarland as host and his frequent off-the-mark and incredibly unfunny and cruel jokes.

Even William Shatner, in "Star Trek" Captain Kirk attire, moonlighting as a TV critic via an on-stage big-screen, couldn't blunt the flop that was McFarland's frat-boy humor amidst his otherwise slick smiles and self-serving song and dance numbers.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening -- other than Ang Lee winning a well-deserved director Oscar for the sublime "Life of Pi" -- was First Lady Michelle Obama announcing "Argo" as the Oscar picture recipient via a big-screen satellite feed, as Jack Nicholson, in shades and his best Cheshire Cat grin, looked on.

Movie song production numbers saved the day, er, night with: Oscar song recipient (with Paul Epworth) Adele's James Bond "Skyfall" theme; the cast of "Les Miserables," which received three Oscars, including makeup and hairstyling and sound mixing, on stage cast (including Allentown's Amanda Seyfried) singing "One More Day" and "Dream"; Barbara Streisand's "The Way We Were" tribute to composer Marvin Hamlisch, and most of all, Shirley Bassey sounding better than ever on the James Bond "Goldfinger" theme to note the movie franchise's 50th anniversary.

The Oscar telecast's other highlight was Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum dancing ala Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to "The Way You Look Tonight."

That was glitz. That was glamour. That was entertainment, sorely lacking thanks mainly to host McFarland's potty-mouth humor. The good news is that McFarland vowed to not again host the telecast.

It's not too late to catch Oscar's best. While "Argo," which received three Oscars including adapted screenplay, is out on Blu-Ray, it's still playing in theaters, as are: "Amour," the Oscar foreign film recipient; "Django Unchained"; "Les Misérables"; "Lincoln"; "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Zero Dark Thirty."

Box Office, March 1: "Jack the Giant Slayer" opened at No. 1, but its $28 million take for a $200-million budget movie directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men") qualifies it as a blockbuster bust.

2. "Identity Thief," $9.7 million, $107.4 million, four weeks; 3. "21 and Over," $9 million, opening; 4. "The Last Exorcism Part II," $8 million, opening; 5. "Snitch," $7.7 million, $24.4 million, two weeks; 6. "Escape from Planet Earth," $6.7 million, $43.2 million, three weeks; 7. "Safe Haven," $6.3 million, $57 million, three weeks; 8. "Silver Linings Playbook," $5.9 million, $115.5 million, 16 weeks; 9. " A Good Day to Die Hard," $4.5 million, $59.6 million, three weeks; 10. "Dark Skies," $3.5 million, $13.4 million, two weeks

Unreel, March 8:

"Oz the Great and Powerful," PG: Sam Raimi directs James Franco as a magician, along with Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis as witches in the fantasy prequel to "The Wizard of Oz."

"Dead Man Down," Niels Arden Oplev, director of the original "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy directs Noomi Rapace, the original star of that series, in a crime thriller about a crime lord's henchman lured by one of his victims. Colin Farrell, Dominic Cooper and Terrence Howard co-star.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.com, and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Lehigh Valley Community Public Radio, WDIY 88.1 FM, wdiy.org. Email Paul Willistein pwillistein@ tnonline.com and on Facebook.