If you are an 80-year-old awards show, coming at the tail end of a crowded awards season, how do you keep your audience, distracted by Twitter and a slate of other fantastic Sunday night television programming, on the edge of their seats?
That was the challenge presented to those responsible for putting on the 2013 Academy Awards, which with a lack Oscar upsets, turned to Teddy Bears, superfluous musical numbers, and other gimmicks that tried to keep things interesting. Here's how U.S. News sums up its feelings—in GIF form—on Hollywood's biggest night.
Michelle Obama presents the Best Picture award.
The Academy one-upped Bill Clinton's cameo at the Golden Globes by having first lady Michelle Obama—introduced by Jack Nicholson, bringing together one of the most unexpected pairings in awards show history—announce the winner for best picture. Skyping in from the Diplomatic Room of the White House, Obama wore a sparkly sliver Naeem Khan dress and rocked her controversial bangs. The big winner being Argo seemed more than appropriate, as Hollywood and Washington's love affair with one another was manifest in both the moment and the movie. Our feeling:
Seth MacFarlane's rocky hosting skills.
Successful awards show hosts are all alike; but every unsuccessful host is unsuccessful in his or her own way. McFarlane did not flounder as Anne Hathaway and James Franco did in 2011, nor did he bore like Billy Crystal in 2012 (his ninth time hosting). But the return on investment for MacFarlane's offensive brand of humor was lower than, say, Ricky Gervais—who managed to anger all of Hollywood while hosting the Golden Globes and yet was still asked back two more times—and some of MacFarlane's better lines were overshadowed by accusations of blatant sexism. The Academy wanted to shake things up with the choice of MacFarlane, and to his compliment, the Family Guy creator did so with much energy and gusto. Nevertheless, "Bring back Tina and Amy" (Fey and Poehler, who hosted this year's Golden Globe to much success) will be the battle hymn for award show seasons to come.
Actor Christoph Waltz accepts his best supporting actor Oscar for his performance in Django Unchained. (Matt Sayles/AP) For the most, the results followed conventional Oscar ballot wisdom, with the biggest shock perhaps being the tie between Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall for Best Sound Editing. Daniel Day Lewis's Best Actor win could be seen from a mile of method acting away. Anne Hathaway's Best Supporting Actress victory was also considered a lock, with the biggest question being how annoying her acceptance speech would be (more on that later). Even the young Jennifer Lawrence winning for Best Actress was not all that astonishing, considering the mountain of political backlash Zero Dark Thirty and Jessica Chastain, Lawrence's strongest competition, was fighting. Argo's Best Picture victory would had been surprising three months ago, but Ben Affleck being snubbed for Best Director spurred the momentum for the film's Golden Globe win and may other pre-Oscar awards that paved the way to golden statue glory. Christoph Waltz winning Best Supporting Actor came with the most suspense of any acting category, as it was the only category that was truly wide open. Other minor upsets: Ang Lee beating out Steven Spielberg for best director and Chris Terrio's screenplay for Argo edging out Tony Kushner for Lincoln.
...And their acceptance speeches.
Ben Affleck accepts the award for the best picture for Argo. (Chris Pizzello/AP)
With expected wins came canned acceptance speeches—we're looking at you Anne Hathaway—but there were a few candid moments to delight viewers. Lawrence's trip up the stairs further endeared her as America's sweetheart du jour. No one expected humor coming from Daniel Day Lewis, who is usually stoic. And Affleck's ode to his wife, Jennifer Garner, when picking up Best picture was refreshingly honest: "I want to thank you for working on our marriage for 10 Christmases. It's good. It is work but it's the best kind of work and there's no one I'd rather work with."