Oscars 2012 – Reflections and Notes

Oscar StatuettesOn the whole, I thought last night’s Oscars were a great time and Seth Macfarlane proved a good, deprecating host.  Sure, some jokes laid flat but when they did, he had the presence to comment on it.  Plus, he didn’t go in for all that Bruce Villanch-style humor, which really aided the festivities.

However, it’s worth noting that my view of the ceremony is skewed because it was DVR-aided.  See, I had an indoor-soccer game that ran over the first hour or so of the ceremony so by the time I got home, I had a good buffer to get me through the musical numbers, which were many.  However, when my buffer ran out, just about the time the Les Mis musical number was going on, I got up and wandered off and emptied the dishwasher and reloaded it.

Still, all in all it was a good ceremony and at just about 3 1/2 hours, it wasn’t the longest ever.

The Tie

The tie for Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty in the Sound Editing category was not the first tie in Academy history.  The first technical tie was in 1931/2 when Frederic March and Wallace Beery shared the Oscar – I call this a ‘technical’ tie because March actually had one more vote than Beery, but under Oscar rules at the time a three vote margin was considered a tie.  Shortly thereafter, the rules changed making it a tie only when there was an actual tie.  Also interesting about that time period?  Oscar actually gave out the voting results.

Other ties are:

1949 Documentary (short subject) – A Chance to Live and So Much For So Little

1968 Best Actress – Barbara Streisand and Katharine Hepburn

1986 for Documentary (Feature) – Artie Shaw: Time Is All You Got and Down and Out in America

1994 for Short Film (Live Action) – Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Trevor

Further trivia about ties?  The last two ceremonies that included a tie – the 2012 and 1994 – both saw Quentin Tarantino take home the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

Best Director

The big shock for me on the night was Steven Spielberg not taking Best Director.  After Ben Affleck was cleared from the category it seemed the smart money was on Spielberg to get thrown that bone – Lincoln’s a somewhat-respected film about a very-respected president and therefore some might view Spielberg’s direction as Oscar-worthy.  Or, they might treat at as the late-career ‘thank you’ to a guy who’s done so much for the movies.  So, when Ang Lee’s name was called it really made me wonder about the depth of the support for Lincoln overall.  After all, while it received 12 nominations it won in just two categories – Best Actor and Production design.  More telling, even the well-respected Tony Kushner lost to Chris Terrio and since the Academy wasn’t afraid to give QT a screenplay Oscar for a lesser-effort – sorry, but Django Unchained was a lesser QT effort – it was all the more telling they wouldn’t do the same for Kushner.

What was interesting about the victory for Ang Lee is by winning he joined a very small group of directors who’ve won two or more Oscars for directing but did not see any of their films take Best Picture.

The first was Frank Borzage, who won the very first Oscar for Best Dicrector (Dramatic), in 1927/28 for Seventh Heaven, following it up in 1931/32 for Bad Girl.

The second was George Stevens, who won for directing A Place in the Sun in 1951 and Giant in 1956.  How interesting that this piece of trivia was called up on a night when George Stevens, Jr. was there to celebrate his Honorary Oscar?

The third was Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain in 2005 and The Life of Pi in 2012.

John Ford comes close to joining the category, owing to the fact that three of his four directing Oscars came for films that did not win Best Picture (The Informer in 1935, The Grapes of Wrath in 1940 and The Quiet Man in 1953).  However, his Oscar for directing How Green Was My Valley in 1941 was matched by a Best Picture Oscar.  Incidentally, the victories in 1941 came at the expense of Citizen Kane.

Film Without A Nominated Director

If you didn’t know by now, the hardest feat to achieve is a film winning Best Picture without the benefit of having it’s director nominated as well – only four times out of 85 has it happened.  Prior to 2012 Argo doing it for 2012, it happened with Wings in 1927/28, Grand Hotel in 1931/32 and Driving Miss Daisy in 1989.  The interesting factoid about Grand Hotel was it won Best Picture with it’s only nomination.

As always, you can follow the Best Picture Project by clicking here.

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