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Charlize Theron

OSCARS 2013: The Last Word
A Review of the 85th Annual Academy Awards

- By Diane Clehane

There was no mistake. This was not your grandmother’s – or your mother’s Oscars. A song about boobs? Long-winded winners being played off the stage by the theme from “Jaws”? All that was missing was a trap door in the floor. With “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane as host, the producers did everything they could to try to shave off a few years from this year’s Oscars even dropping the official name of the broadcast – ‘The Academy Awards’ was never mentioned. It’s the Oscars now! It was, on paper at least, supposed to be a younger, hipper Oscar (even if the old boy is 85!) courtesy of MacFarlane, a face largely unknown to many faithful Oscar viewers.

But it didn’t work.

A broadcast that was a tribute to movie musicals had an uneven rhythm that dragged on in spots (the opening monologue was completely self-indulgent) and MacFarlane often seemed to forget this was an event watched by a billion people not a special on Fox. MacFarlane and the producers just couldn’t seem to decide what they wanted the show to be and at times, their self-consciousness was painful. Sock puppets, really?

It was a maddening evening. The highs were stellar – many courtesy of truly amazing musical performances (Adele, Jennifer Hudson, Shirley Bassey, the entire cast of “Les Miz”) and several speeches (most notably Ben Affleck and a surprisingly funny Daniel Day-Lewis) were heartfelt and moving. But the jarring moments of outright crassness marred what was otherwise could have been a peppy, much better broadcast.

MacFarlane did get off some genuinely funny bits (“The Sound of Music” gag to introduce Christopher Plummer was a nice touch and his self-deprecating barbs about his own credits worked well – “You guys have made some inspiring movies. I made “Ted.” Your movies are going to win awards. My movies are in Redboxes outside grocery stores being urinated on by bums.”) He also proved he could occasionally be reverential when needed.

Like many of the pictures honored this year, the show didn’t know when to end on a high note. The closing “Here’s to the Losers” number by MacFarlane and Chenoweth (if you were still watching by then) was horribly ill-conceived.

The producers brought out the big guns only occasionally. In fact, the presence of Michael Douglas and an ageless Jane Fonda to present the Best Director Oscar felt like it was from another broadcast. Did Jack Nicholson really need a beamed in Michelle Obama as a co-presenter? Since when was a solo Jack not enough?

The fashion wasn’t dazzling as most actresses played it safe. There were too many pale colored dresses that while pretty, did little to help the actresses (Amy Adams, Amanda Seyfried) stand out from the crowd. The big winner hands down, was Charlize Theron, who dazzled in stark white Dior Haute Couture. Best dressed by a mile. She never misses. Who else could pull off that pixie cut (shorn off completely for her role in the upcoming “Mad Max Fury Road”)?

For those actresses who went for color, Jessica Chastain scored her personal best in a copper beaded column by Armani Privé that fit the way all her dresses should. Reese Witherspoon looked every inch the yummy mummy in royal blue Louis Vuitton. Jennifer Aniston finally left those black interchangeable sheaths behind and chose a sweeping red ballgown from Valentino. It looked good, but she would have benefited from something more elegant with her hair. Presenter Kerry Washington brought an infusion of color to red carpet in her youthful, pretty Miu Miu coral beaded dress. Jennifer Garner looked perfect in a purple column from Gucci with cascading ruffles down the back of her dress. I didn’t like the canary color, but Jane Fonda was spectacular in her Versace. The woman is 75 for goodness sakes!

As for the misses, there were many. Halle Berry looked like an eighties refugee in her shoulders out to there Versace. Nicole Kidman also must have gotten the memo asking the biggest stars to dress like Vegas showgirls. Salma Hayek’s Alexander McQueen made her neck disappear and squashed her. Helen Hunt proudly told reporters her eco-friendly dress was from H&M and it looked it. Zoe Salanda’s embellished, belted dress was a total mess. The evening’s worst dressed goes to Catherine Zeta Jones who came masquerading as an Oscar statuette in a gauche gold number that looked like something a Real Housewife might wear on a reunion show. Yikes!

Is anyone really capable of making a truly great Oscar broadcast? Not yet, but there’s always next year. I vote for Hugh Jackman as host – remember how great he was? Why not give the guy another chance?

Jennifer Lawrence

Anne Hathaway

Here’s my minute-by-minute recap of last night’s highs and lows:

8:30 Oh look, Beaver Cleaver is hosting ‘The Oscars.’ Oh no, wait a minute -- a joke about “Django Unchained” being the perfect date movie for Chris Brown and Rihanna and another about Mel Gibson and the ‘N’ word indicate otherwise. The overly looong, uneven bit featuring everything but the kitchen sink and presided over by William Shatner as Captain Kirk back from the future to prevent Seth MacFarlane from being the worst Oscar host ever begins. Does that sound confusing? It was even more so on stage.

8:37 A musical number entitled “We saw your boobs?” Really? Really? Really stupid. Helen Hunt does not look amused. Neither are we.

8:39 Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron do a blink and you’d miss it Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to “The Way You Look Tonight.”

8:41 A sock puppet version of “Flight.” I imagine Denzel isn’t very pleased.

8:42 MacFarlane enlists Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who kills it) to do a little soft shoe.

8:44 A taped bit shows Seth MacFarlane wearing a costume from “The Flying Nun” hitting on Sally Field (who was very game, I must say) in the green room and ends up with the pair running off leaving the Oscars in the dust. A hint perhaps? Somewhere Billy Crystal is crying (or maybe laughing)

8:50 The first upset. Best Supporting Actor goes to Christoph Waltz who gives one of the most gracious acceptance speeches I’ve ever heard. That’s the way it’s done.

8:55 Why is the theme from “ET” playing? 8:56 John Travolta gives presenter Melissa McCarthy’s dress an approving once over. Just wondering: where do you think he’d wear it?

9:00 Reese Witherspoon in Louis Vuitton wins Best Performance by a Celebrity Hairstylist.

9:05 A bearded George Clooney (hirsute for the upcoming “Monument Men”) is spotted in the audience. Not good. What’s up with all the gorgeous guys having facial hair?

9:11 “Life of Pi’s” Bill Westenhofer, winner for Best Visual Effects, gets played off by the theme song of “Jaws.” He tries to keep going but can’t. By far, the most cringe worthy moment of the evening. The audience is horrified. Even Nicole Kidman feels bad for him.

9:14 Brad Pitt’s really bad Chanel commercial makes me miss Angelina Jolie – and her leg – on tonight’s red carpet.

9:16 Channing Tatum and Jennifer Aniston gets my vote for the most attractive pair of presenters. And note to Kelly Osbourne: I don’t think a purple haired tattooed C-lister has any fashion cred to criticize Jennifer’s simply beautiful dress. (“I expected more”) Seriously?

9:21 Halle Berry, channeling David Bowie, introduces a clip package saluting 50 Years of James Bond. Remember when the actress dazzled on the red carpet? Her wardrobe choices may be dreadful, but that body is sheer perfection. The woman might have one of the most screwed up personal lives in Hollywood, but she obviously isn’t a stress eater.

9:22 The Bond tribute was a real miss. That’s it? I was expecting the actors to be standing there when the clips were over. What happened? We weren’t shaken or stirred.

9:24 Shirley Bassey sings Goldfinger. I got chills. She even rolled with it when the sound got screwed up (which better not happen when Barbra Streisand sings “The Way We Were” later if the producers know what’s good for them). A standing ovation. Fantastic!

Amy Adams

Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Garner

9:37 ‘Mr. Liam Neeson’ presents the first Best Picture clip package. I know it’s been years since Natasha Richardson died, but he looks so sad to me.

9:45 More “Jaws” theme music to hurry off another winner. Wasn’t funny the first time. More like something they’d do on “Saturday Night Live” the second time. Totally undignified and so beneath Oscar. Or at least you’d hope so.

9:49 Jennifer Garner (in Gucci) and Jessica Chastain (in Armani Prive), two of the night’s best dressed, present Best Foreign Language Film. Looking good, ladies.

9:53 John Travolta and his black tie toupee introduce a trio of musical number with Catherine Zeta Jones (obviously lip-synching), Jennifer Hudson and the entire cast of “Les Miz.”

I was standing next to Catherine at Saks in Greenwich two weeks ago and I can tell you that she looked nothing like she did this evening. Perhaps that’s why she was lip-synching – it’s hard to sing when you’ve just had a head transplant.

10:00 Standing ‘O’ for Jennifer Hudson who brought the house down with her reprise of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

10:01 Er…. Excuse me, is this the Oscars or the Tonys?

10:04 Whatever it is, I got chills from the “Les Miz” cast even if half the microphones didn’t work as they should have. Brilliant.

10:16 What’s with all these long haired dudes winning Oscars?

10:20 The brilliant and charming Christopher Plummer presents Best Supporting Actress to Anne Hathaway who is going to regret her wardrobe choice when she sees the photos from last night. Her Prada dress, chosen at the last minute, did not fit. Those darts (or are they nipples?) in the bodice looked horrible. The necklace was wrong from that neckline. Clearly she was going for her Gwyneth Paltrow Oscar winning moment and missed. So disappointed she ditched the Valentino she planned to wear since she the house has supported her for so long. Loved the hair and makeup, though. I also thought her acceptance speech sounded awfully rehearsed and fell flat. Totally underwhelming.

10:31 Sandra Bullock, a woman with great taste in clothes and really lousy taste in husbands, presents the Oscar for Best Editing.

10:34 Jennifer Lawrence, looking gorgeous in Dior Haute Couture, introduces Adele who gives an effortlessly stunning performance singing the theme from “Skyfall.” But what’s with the sound?

10:48 I just don’t get the appeal of Kristen Stewart

10:53 Just three more hours to go …

10:57 George Clooney introducing ‘In Memoriam’ strikes me as very odd. It’s duty usually given to a lesser star.

11:01 Is there a single ounce of botox or filler left in Hollywood? I think not.

11:03 It breaks my heart to say this, but Barbra Streisand gave the weakest musical performance of the night singing “The Way We Were” in tribute to Marvin Hamlisch. The voice just wasn’t there …

11:14 A musical number with Nora Jones. I don’t think there were as many performances at the Grammys. Why is the sound so dreadful?

11:15 Adele wins Best Original Song. Love her. I dare Rex Reed to say a word.

11:23 Charlize Theron is truly the most breathtaking woman at the Oscars. Gorgeous dress. Fabulous hair, Glowing skin. Flawless.

11:26 Shocker – Quentin Tarantino snags the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay after many reports said he’d never win. They try to play him off with the “Gone With The Wind” theme. I guess only the lesser winners are to be embarrassed by “Jaws.”

11:32 Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas present Ang Lee with the Oscar for Best Director. Now this feels like the Oscars. And Jane Fonda, you rock.

Jane Fonda

Jessica Chastain

11:37 Seth MacFarlane gets off his best line of the night before going to commercial. Of the upcoming best actress Oscar he says: “Will it go to Quvenzhane Wallis who is nine or Emmanuelle Riva who was nine when this show started?”

11:42 Jennifer Lawrence, who just can’t seem to make it to any podium in one piece, falls up the stairs on the way to accept her Oscar for Best Actress. At least she’s wearing the right dress for it. It looks better draped across the steps than it did on the red carpet. Once she gets to the stage, she gets a standing ovation and charmingly tells the audience: “You guys are standing up because you feel bad because I fell.” True enough, but with her swift recovery and her great performance in the film, she earned the applause and the statuette. She also graciously wished fellow nominee Riva a happy birthday. A shot of a beaming Bradley Cooper in the audience looks like a man in love to me.

11:45 I not sure Meryl Streep even opened the envelope when announces Daniel Day-Lewis as the winner of the Best Actor Oscar. Not that she needed to. The actor, who made Oscar history by nabbing his third win in this category, gives a funny, articulate speech where he salutes Abraham Lincoln and the other nominees. Loved the bit about swapping their Lincoln-Thatcher roles with Meryl. If anyone could pull that off, it’s those two.

11:51 Jack Nicholson co-presents the Oscar for Best Picture with none other than Michelle Obama via satellite, a set-up that made absolutely no sense and seemed forced. We’ve seen the bangs, they look good. Now let’s move on, shall we? She announces “Argo” as the winner. Ben Affleck, who seems genuinely touched by the tidal wave of support he’s received this season, delivers a fabulous Oscar speech and tells the crowd: “It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life. All that matters is that you gotta get up.” Indeed. Clooney, a producer on the film, looks on proudly with Oscar in hand but doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t have to. He’s George Clooney. Even with that bead.

11:57 Seth MacFarlane says he’ll be back with a proper goodbye after the last batch of commercials (who paid “for all this stuff”). Mistake. Big mistake.

12:00 MacFarlane and the incredibly annoying Kristin Chenoweth sing, “Here’s to the Losers” and name them all in verse while the credits role. Completely unnecessary and, I thought, mean-spirited. Memo to the “Family Guy” creator: sometimes bits aren’t edgy and funny, they’re just nasty. And that was no way to end such an historic Oscar night.

Grade: The Show: C Fashion: B-

- Diane Clehane is Lookonline’s Entertainment Editor. She is the author of several New York Times best sellers and is currently at work on a novel. She also writes about fashion, entertainment and pop culture for many other outlets including Forbes and mediabistro.com. For more information go to dianeclehane.com. Email her at DClehane@aol.com

DFR: New York Fashion Report

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