11:49: Daniel Day-Lewis is an exceedingly dull choice for Best Actor, but at least the man gives good, and gracious speech on a night in which the speeches have been totally unremarkable.
11:43: Jennifer Lawrence’s win for Best Actress in Silver Linings Playbook is one of the least interesting choices in the field, but at least it’s one in a field packed with interesting options. And I appreciated Lawrence’s performance as a woman who was intensely aware of and pained by the perception that she was promiscuous. Her defense of herself against slut-shaming, and discussions of the pendulum between feeling sexually shut down by depression and embracing sex as a way to feel alive in the midst of great grief is very strong and interesting. That said, I really thought Jessica Chastain’s performance as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty was remarkable, and even better for elevating one of the most original roles written for a woman in a very long time. I would have liked to see her win for that role if only as an incentive for people to create more of those kinds of parts for women, which men can take for granted, in which they can be about their work, and accomplishments, and drive, rather than about their partner.
11:35: It’s hard for me to see the Best Director category as even remotely legitimate or interesting this year given the absence of Quentin Tarantino and Kathryn Bigelow from the competition. I like Lee a whole bunch. But this seems like a very, very tame choice.
11:26: Django Unchained is too long and deeply self-indulgent. But of the movies that were up against it for Best Original Screenplay, Django was playing with a lot of tremendous difficult and resonant ideas. And on questions of race, it was a much more confrontational and interesting movie than Lincoln.
11:24: I said way back that I thought Argo was a lock to win best picture. With its win for Best Adapted Screenplay, I’m increasingly sure I’m right.
10:38: Now I kind of want to see Adele get to be a Bond Woman, instead of just see the theme. Maybe one who is essentially impervious to Bond’s charms.
10:24: Anne Hathaway wins for Best Supporting Actress for Les Miserables. Which is fine with me. I find the dislike of her entirely mysterious. But it’s a real shame that Amy Adams didn’t get recognized for her fascinating, angry turn as a cult leader’s wife in The Master. Even more than Jessica Chastain’s turn in Zero Dark Thirty, Adams played a character who was essentially without vanity, who came at female sexuality from an extreme and fascinating slant, and who was finding ways to exert power in a male-dominated environment.
9:44: Searching For Sugarman is good, but I’m incredibly disappointed that the Academy didn’t go for The Invisible War or How To Survive A Plague. The Invisible War, Kirby Dick’s documentary about the rape epidemic in the U.S. military, would have been my pick. It’s an incredibly damning movie that’s actually made a lot of change, coming up in Chuck Hagel’s nomination hearing to be Secretary of Defense, and it’s been adopted by the Defense Department as a training tool. But I wouldn’t be shocked if a lot of Academy voters were turned off or made uncomfortable by how blunt and upsetting it is.
9:22: I’m enjoying the James Bond montage, but sorry to see Skyfall get so little love. The movie was really as clever a genre riff—and commentary on the British Empire and blowback—as anything Joss Whedon does with science fiction and fantasy.
9:16: Aaaand Seth MacFarlane implies that Jennifer Anniston has a secret stripper past. Seriously, bro? Fire your writers. Which probably means you should fire yourself.
9:11: Nice to see a Hollywood spouse get thanked for the sacrifices she’s made.
9:01: Reese Witherspoon’s self-congratulation of the Academy for recognizing the originality of Beasts of the Southern Wild says a lot more about the Academy’s treatment of African-American characters as niche than about Beasts itself.
8:58: Paperman, which just won Best Animated Short, is a tremendous little movie, and a great critique of what’s wrong with most romantic comedies. And you can watch it here!
8:50: Christoph Waltz wins Best Supporting Actor for Django Unchained. It’s a great performance, not least because Dr. King Schultz is a character who was created as an opportunity to explore whiteness as a racial category, and racial solidarity, an issue that almost never appears on screen.
8:47: That the actors who are nominated for Best Supporting Actor have been nominated a combined 21 times before is…not actually an admirable statistic for Hollywood. It’s a great testament to the concentration of good roles among an extremely small crew of people working in the industry.
8:37: Seth MacFarlane bringing in the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles to sing a number about seeing nominated actresses topless was a move that came close to working. But you don’t get points for self-awareness for that sort of number unless you acknowledge that almost no actor in Hollywood is ever expected to prove he’s serious by showing us his man-bits.
8:35: MacFarlane on Quentin Tarantino’s use of the word “nigger” in Django Unchained: “I’m told it’s okay for Quentin Tarantino to use that word because he thinks he’s black.” Judging by the evidence in Django, Tarantino thinks he’s Australian. Which only makes things more confusing.
8:32: I sort of suspect that Seth MacFarlane has been kidnapped and replaced by a Seth MacFarlane robot like the one from In Like Flint, except this one tells only anodyne industry jokes. Seriously, wouldn’t Brian Griffin have intense contempt for someone who said things like, “Winning an Oscar guarantees a long, successful career in the industry,” and made Coppola family cracks?
8:29: Welcome, everyone! We already know that Quvenzhané Wallis is wearing Armani, Christoph Waltz’s date is taller than he is, and Ryan Seacrest claims not to have a manicure. What we don’t know yet is everything important. Can The Invisible War, Kirby Dick’s searing cri de coeur about sexual assault in the military beat out a crowded field for Best Documentary Feature? Will Argo, as I predicted, win Best Picture? And just how quickly will Seth MacFarlane make us wish that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were hosting the ceremonies?