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Eleanor Ringel Cater

Academy Awards — Monday morning Oscar-backing on who won and lost

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

Where were you when they announced Best Picture at the Oscars on Sunday?

I was in bed, but, showing stamina I hadn’t mustered in years —stamina, mind you, not enjoyment — I actually saw the very end. I mean, the very, very end, including, the song that Kristin Chenoweth (who is her agent; she was everywhere) and host Seth McFarlane did about the losers.

So, I wasn’t so far off when I talked with Valerie Hoff and Chris Holcomb on WXIA’s Sunday morning show that I had heard they were doing a musical number at the end. But what in the world would it be? A song and dance about the losers?

I have to wonder if some enterprising researcher didn’t get the idea from a long-ago duet performed by Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas in the late ‘50s when they introduce the Best Actor nominees with a song called “It’s Great Not to Be Nominated.”

Monday-morning-Oscar-ing (as in Monday-morning quarterbacking) breaks down into two parts. On the one hand, it’s about who won and who didn’t. On the other, it’s about the show itself.

Frankly, I was thrilled with the winners in the top six categories. I thought Robert De Niro would win Best Supporting Actor for “Silver Linings Playbook.” But my personal choice was the eventual winner, Christoph Waltz, who almost single-handedly pulled off “Django Unchained.” I would say I would watch him in anything except, well, I just couldn’t make it through “Water for Elephants”…

Anne Hathaway was the pre-ordained winner for “Les Miserables” and she came through. Same thing with Daniel Day-Lewis and “Lincoln.” I thought his acceptance speech was the best of the evening. If you missed it — and since it was almost midnight, I’m pretty certain a lot of you did — he made a sly joke about the “great swap” he arranged with presenter (and last year’s Best Actress) Meryl Streep.

See, she was offered “Lincoln” and he was going to do “The Iron Lady,” he deadpanned. But they decided to pull a fast one on Hollywood and switch roles. And you know what? I bet she could play Lincoln, and he’d make quite a convincing Margaret Thatcher.

Now, isn’t it time for somebody to put them in a movie together?

I was fine with Jennifer Lawrence winning, though I resented her idiotic role — that of a widow who sleeps around to assuage her grief and then decides entering a dance contest will make it all okay. I predicted she would get it, but I had my fingers crossed for Emmanuelle Riva — I couldn’t even watch her in the clip from “Amour;” she’s that powerful. Or Jessica Chastain, who played a recognizably modern woman in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Then, as I watched the different clips, I realized how amazing Lawrence had to be to make an unworkable role work. Put that together with her performances in “Winter Bones” (her first nomination) and “The Hunger Games” and we really may be watching a Meryl Streep for the 21st century (Lawrence is all of 22).

“Argo” had seemed to me the obvious winner and it was — though, I’ll admit I had a few moments when I thought it might be “Lincoln.”  And everyone was surprisingly graceful about the Ben Affleck Snub, I thought. Especially Ben Affleck.

The Big Surprise — though I didn’t mind it a bit — was Ang Lee winning best director for “The Life of Pi.” The man is a genius, capable of everything from “Sense and Sensibility” to “Brokeback Mountain.”

There seems to be a purity about him — something that suggests he makes the movies that interest him, not the movies that would be good career moves.  I think I guessed Spielberg, but let’s admit it: “Lincoln” is a better monument than movie. Hopefully it’ll get shown year after year after year in high schools and colleges.

Just don’t make me sit through it again…Or “Silver Linings Playbook.”

“Lincoln is merely boring.” “Silver Linings Playbook” is dumb as a stick.

Now, about the show itself…. I’ll get to that later in the week. When I’ve had time to let Seth McFarlane’s opening number, “I Saw Your Boobs” ditty (rhymes with…hey, why wasn’t that joke in the opening monologue??) sink in. I do know that for about 20 minutes after the song was over, I kept shouting at every female who got a close-up, “Show me your boobs.”

By the time I was shouting it at 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, I knew I had to calm down.

To be continued….

Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.



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