Movie Forum: We sit in judgment of Oscar (and Seth)
05:00 AM, Mar 06, 2013
Every Wednesday, the Movie Forum convenes to discuss the latest news from the film world and answer questions submitted by you, the reader.
In this week’s chat USA TODAY film critic Claudia Puig and movies reporter Brian Truitt discussed the 85th Academy Awards, including Seth MacFarlane’s performance as host, favorite acceptance speeches, surprises, disappointments, potential changes for the ceremony and the abundance of Chicago. They also tackled Hollywood’s adaptation of fairy tales, and answered Anne Hathaway and The Master.
John Elliot: Welcome to the USA TODAY Movie Forum!
Where the awards season has finally, mercifully, come to an end…but we’re still going to talk about it for the next hour!
I’m John Elliot, online producer for USA TODAY Movies and I will serve as your moderator. Joining me today is USA TODAY film critic Claudia Puig and movies reporter Brian Truitt
How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on the latest news from the world of film.
This week? Oscars and Oz!
Remember: you can submit questions right here and now and we will tackle them later in the chat.
Let’s start with some general thoughts on Sunday’s Oscars ceremony…What’s your overall take?
Claudia Puig: Hello, everyone! I was at the Oscars and I will say this: Everyone in the Dolby Theater seemed to be enjoying Seth and the festivities more than the viewers on TV and critics. The musical numbers—particularly Adele, Shirley Bassey and Streisand were big favorites, as were the Flight sock puppets
But then again being at the Oscars and dissing it—while it’s going on or just after—is sort of like attending a party and criticizing what was served
Brian Truitt: I really really enjoyed the opening with Seth, sock puppets, the boob song and Captain Kirk. The rest of the night was cool, too, of course. It was great to see Bassey belting, and I dug the Chicago/Les Mis phantasmagoria of musicals.
Catherine Zeta-Jones has still got it.
Claudia Puig: I loved the Les Mis musical number. And it was the first time they all performed it together—let alone on stage. Here’s who I would love to see as hosts next year: Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, of course or Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
I don’t think Seth will be asked back, but it is truly a thankless job—unless you’re Billy Crystal….Hey, how about Colbert and Stewart?
Brian Truitt: I don’t think we’ll ever see Hathaway on that side of the Oscars again. Fey seems to be saying no way to hosting, but I think she and Poehler would be fantastic. And I would DIE to see a Colbert/Stewart Oscarpalooza 2014.
Comment From Alex Yong:
Amy Poehler would be the best host ever!
John Elliot: What did you think of Seth MacFarlane as host? What were his strong points? Where did he fall short?
Claudia Puig: I thought his intro was too long, and some of his jokes fell flat (the Denzel/Nutty Professor gag—not funny) but sometimes he hit it right. I wasn’t a hater.
Brian Truitt: Neither was I, Claudia. I think he was actually pretty tame compared to what he could have done, and the Oscars got what they asked for. He was serviceable.
Claudia Puig: I agree Brian and I also agree with Alex—Amy Poehler definitely. How about Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones?
Brian Truitt: I would vote for Poehler plus Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson.
Claudia Puig: The cast of Parks and Rec, as John says…
Comment From Alex Yong:
Using Mel Gibson as comedic material is old hat at this point. I was expecting alot out of Seth MacFarlane and didn’t get it.
Brian Truitt: Yeah, but that joke always gets a laugh there. You have to remember, probably a lot of those people don’t get out much.
Claudia Puig: I think Alex is right. And Mel Gibson pops up way too much. Even Tina and Amy did their obligatory Gibson joke, didn’t they?
Brian Truitt: I think so. It’s pretty standard.
Claudia Puig: Could have used another Kathryn Bigelow/James Cameron joke though
Brian Truitt: Gibson is like the “Freebird” of Oscar jokes.
Claudia Puig: Great!
John Elliot: MacFarlane says he won’t return as host. He’s one and done. Is this a loss for the Academy or viewers?
Claudia Puig: What did you think of the Losers song at the end?
Brian Truitt: I missed it as I was furiously writing up my final lede on my story. It didn’t have my foot tapping though.
Claudia Puig: And as for Seth….I don’t think it’s a big loss for the viewers. Let him stick to Family Guy and more movies like Ted
I did like the Michelle Obama moment though—and how they kept that under wraps and DDL’s acceptance speech—best of the night. I so want to see a movie with him and Streep!
Brian Truitt: I think it’s only a loss for Seth, and probably isn’t for him. It’s like the Super Bowl halftime show: They’ll get somebody in there who they hope won’t cause a scandal the next day, and the world will keep turning.
Claudia Puig: True that
Brian Truitt: DDL was the funniest guy all night.
Let’s have DDL host the Oscars. As Seth MacFarlane.
Comment From Alex Yong:
Seth’s one and done is not a loss for the Oscars. It’s a loss for Seth. He could simply say he’s open to the idea of returning and add “I’ll be even better next time” so maybe because we didn’t hear that, perhaps he was disappointed in himself. It’s not like he brought the house down. That’s what I was hoping for.
Claudia Puig: Yes DDL was the funniest AND classiest!
John Elliot: Let’s talk about the wins. I can think of ONE big surprise (director), but were you caught off guard by any of the other wins?
Claudia Puig: Brian, I know you and I were big Life of Pi fans. How great was it that Ang Lee won?
I was sure it was going to be Spielberg. I think Ang Lee is such a great director
Brian Truitt: I thought it was pretty cool and couldn’t have gone to a nicer guy. And how awesome was that pic that caught him afterward woofing down an In-N-Out burger in one hand and holding Oscar in the other.
Claudia Puig: He’s the most down-to-earth genius I’ve ever met!
Not that I know a lot of geniuses…
Brian Truitt: Plus, i don’t think it was THAT much of a surprise. Benh Zeitlin winning would have been a surprise. Everybody knew Lee kinda killed it. I wonder how close Life of Pi got votewise to best pic…
Claudia Puig: I interviewed Ang Lee for Crouching Tiger and he said that if he’s offered a script and he can figure out how to shoot it, he’ll turn it dow\n. He only takes on projects that scare him. I love that philosophy
Brian Truitt: I interviewed him for Hulk, and while it wasn’t the greatest superhero film of all time, he treated the material with his own sense of respect. Props for that.
Claudia Puig: Even his misses are more interesting than most people’s films
John Elliot: Were you pleased with the winners? Any disappointments?
Claudia Puig: I like the way the awards were kind of spread out…And was happy to see Tarantino and Waltz get some love. I was happy with Argo winning, but as much as I like Jennifer Lawrence—and her Jack Nicholson interruption interview moment is priceless—i wish Emmanuelle Riva had won. Hers was really the best, most complex performance
Claudia Puig: That is, she gave the best, most complex performance. Brain still blurred by Oscar madness
I was surprised by Brave—but not all that disappointed.
Brian Truitt: I liked Argo but was really, really hoping Silver Linings Playbook would win best pic. It was a much more emotionally connecting movie, at least for me. So loved that J Law won. And of course DDL was great. I think Wreck-It Ralph should have won fo animated, and any year John Williams doesn’t win means he was hosed. He should win every year just for being John Williams.
Claudia Puig: I had a nice moment with David O. Russell on the carpet. He said he’s been reading my reviews for some huge amount of years (probably more than I’ve been doing it) but he’s great!
Brian Truitt: Wow! That’s pretty awesome. That movie should have won more in general.
John Elliot: Who gave the best acceptance speech?
Claudia Puig: Best acceptance speech hands down was Daniel Day Lewis. Funny, articulate, perfectly timed
Brian Truitt: Oh for sure. He consistently had great speeches all through awards season. I think Anne Hathaway did too. We saw enough of them both, I think…
Claudia Puig: Ben Affleck’s best picture speech was pretty good—until that awkward moment when he talked about his marriage being work and seemed to ramble. But I did love his quip about not normally associating his wife Jennifer with Iran!
Brian Truitt: So, Claudia, let’s say Affleck would have scored a best director nod - do you think Argo still would have been favored and won best pic? I feel like that getting best pic was a bit of a “Sorry we dropped the ball horribly” thing.
Claudia Puig: Yup, I think you’re right. I think it was a make-up for his best director snub. Also, you can bet that whatever film he makes next—unless it’s awful—he’ll get a best director nomination
Brian Truitt: Exactly. So hopefully it’ll be Justice League! First superhero best pic nod ever…
Claudia Puig: The Academy has a pattern of making up for ommissions and giving awards after the fact
John Elliot: Do you think any categories could (or should) be added/changed to improve the awards? What would you suggest?
Brian Truitt: You mean, other than my “Best John Williams Score” category? Sure, I think there should be something to honor a young actor like Q Wallis - like a best new artist kind of thing.
Claudia Puig: I think the one thing the Golden Globes do right is separate drama from comedy. Though I know there are plenty of genre-blending movies like Silver Linings and Argo, from this year. But it would be nice to see more comedies get awards and having a best comedy category would widen the pool. And i agree that best new artist or best first-time filmmaker would be a good category
Brian Truitt: See, I disagree with that. I think, like the One Ring, one movie should rule them all.
John Elliot: Would you make any changes to the ceremony?
Claudia Puig: And how about moving some of those technical awards to a separate ceremony so the whole thing came in at 2 hours, like a movie??
Brian Truitt: They probably enjoy the three hours of TV ad revenue.
Claudia Puig: Well, as long as we have the larger number of best pic nominees it works better, but I’ve heard the Academy say that’s still an experiment. I hope it stays at 10, or up to 10
Brian Truitt: Yeah, for sure 10. I think they can always find 10 worthy movies.
Claudia Puig: That pesky commerce
John Elliot: And finally, on this topic,….why was the cast of Chicago ALL over the Awards?!?!
Claudia Puig: I wondered that too….A tribute to Chicago? Really? I guess the idea was that it revived the movie musical
Next year ….a tribute to Moulin Rouge…Or Burlesque!
Brian Truitt: Because Chicago is awesome? One of the funniest things I saw on Twitter was somebody saying that people should tell Renee Zellweger the next day that she was at the Oscars.
I would like to see a half hour tribute to Moulin Rouge.
Brian Truitt: Or a montage with Chicago and Peter Cetera.
John Elliot: In the next couple weeks, we’ll see the release of Jack the Giant Slayer and Oz, the Great and Powerful. Do you expect good things from these films? How do you think Hollywood does with movie adaptations of fairy tales, which we’ve seen a lot of lately?
Claudia Puig: As long as Ewan McGregor is there…which brings us to Jack the Giant Slayer
I’ve seen Jack the Giant Slayer. Bryan Singer, the director of X Men and Usual Suspects and also Valkyrie, did a decent job. it has a great cast, but it didn’t need to be in 3d. Ok, I’m giving away all the poitns in my review now
Am seeing Oz tomorrow night,. I’m looking forward to it. What do you hear about it Brian?
Brian Truitt: I haven’t heard much, and I have stayed away from spoilers about which of the three witches ultimately is the Wicked Witch. Flying monkeys are always awesome, so it looks good to me.
Extra points if a house falls on someone’s head.
Claudia Puig: Love flying monkeys. Always have. Always will. And James Franco and Michelle Williams are 2 of my favorite actors
And shoes and toes curl up revealing striped socks?
Brian Truitt: And Franco seems just quirky enough to play a wizardly type.
Stripey socks optional.
Claudia Puig: Definitely. I hope it doesn’t disappoint. Being released this time of year doesn’t bode well
Also really like Rachel Weisz…Always glad to see her in a movie
Brian Truitt: The cool thing about Oz though is, unlike Jack, it i a fairy-tale movie adaptation that isn’t being turned into a quasi-action flick.
Claudia Puig: Yes, that IS a good thing
John Elliot: Now let’s move on the questions from our lovely readers!
Jakeem from Atlanta asks:
I noticed that this year’s Oscar producers dropped presenters’ cloying testimonials about acting nominees that had slowed recent telecasts. Did any of you miss them? I certainly wouldn’t have cared to hear Jean Dujardin waxing eloquent about Jennifer, Jessica, Naomi, Emmanuelle and Quvenzhané, for instance.
Claudia Puig: Well, Jakeem, I’m always happy to hear Jean Dujardin’s mellifluous French accent, but I can’t say I miss those cloying testimonials much
Brian Truitt: Au contraire!!!!! I kinda liked them. They added a little something.
Claudia Puig: I both liked and disliked them. They felt a bit awkward, but it was fun to see the big actors’ interacting
Harrison from New York asks:Even the dolls on Anne Hathaway’s bed must have been sick of her acceptance speeches by Oscar night. Claudia, were you as annoyed with her speeches as many others were? Do you think her Q rating went down?
Claudia Puig: Well Harrison, I have to admit I have heard variations on her acceptance theme a few too many times. I did really like her performance in Les Mis, but could have used maybe a bit more levity in her speech—or just something a bit different from the others. But I think she chose the earnest route. Not sure if her Q rating went down, but don’t think it exactly went up….like say Jennifer Lawrence’s.
I think J-Law should get the Oscar for most hilarious faces–both at the awards and during pre and post interviews.
Brian Truitt: J Law’s Q rating is probably off the charts. And she gives an awesome speech and always has something interesting to say. H’way’s always seemed to be variations on on an “I Dreamed a Dream” theme. Although kudos for thanking Victor Hugo. 19th-century scribes never get enough credit.
Mr. Reynolds from Decatur, GA:
In answer to your “Chicago” questions, the executive producers of that Oscar-winning film were Craig Zedan and Neil Meron, the producers of the 85th Academy Awards!
Claudia Puig: Incestuousness in Hollywood—how unheard of!
Brian Truitt: I would have loved to have seen Ben Affleck singing Mr. Cellophane.
Harrison from New York asks:
Why was The Master not nominated for Best Pic? Too complex for the Academy?
Brian Truitt: Now on DVD and Blu-ray!
(I’ve been brainwashed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. What can I say.)
Claudia Puig: I don’t know if it’s too complex, but perhaps too meandering and vague
And the key performances were certainly nominated
John Elliot: Unfortunately, it’s time for us to wrap up…Any final Oscars thoughts?
Claudia Puig: I guess my main thought is it’s nice that it’s over…onward and upward!
Brian Truitt: The race begins now for Pacific Rim winning best picture next year. And the race to Best John Williams Oscar.
John Elliot: Thank you Claudia and Brian! And a VERY big thank you to all our readers who participated and submitted questions.
Claudia Puig: Thanks for submitting great questions and happy post-Oscars!
Brian Truitt: Thanks to all for watching and asking questions. I’ll see all my movie nerds out in the Twittersphere.
John Elliot: Remember: you can submit your burning movie questions all week long, right here.
Thank you all for joining us for the USA TODAY Movie Forum! Please join us again next Wednesday at 3 PM EST/12 PM PST for another edition of Movie Forum.