Argo Goes Gold: Rundown of the Oscars 2013

By Andy Peters on February 25, 2013

Despite his controversial exclusion from the Best Director race this year, Ben Affleck had the last laugh at the 85th Academy Awards last night. Just before midnight, actor Jack Nicholson and First Lady Michelle Obama pronounced Affleck’s latest directorial effort Argo as the big winner of the prestigious Best Picture award. While Argo’s path to the award might have seemed like a smooth sail, especially with its wins at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January, it was actually anything but.

Best Actor/Actress Victory:

Steven Spielberg’s formidable biopic Lincoln was perhaps a co-favorite (alongside Argo) for Best Picture. In the end, this film received an award it deserved: Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis’s astonishing turn as the titular sixteenth president. Playing Lincoln led Day-Lewis the first to ever win the Best Actor award three times. As Lincoln he captivated the Oscars audience by transforming into a legend of American history: “My wife Rebecca has lived with some very strange men,” Day-Lewis joked during his speech, referring to his reputation for completely transforming into the characters he portrays (most recently, he won the Oscar in 2007 for becoming an oil man Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood).

My personal favorite film of 2012 was Silver Linings Playbook, a dramatic romantic comedy starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. I was a little bit worried throughout the ceremony that this latest David O. Russell film might go home empty-handed, but thankfully Jennifer Lawrence saved the day with a Best Actress victory for her role as Tiffany Maxwell, edging out a record-breaking competition from the youngest-ever nominee Quvenzhané Wallis and the oldest-ever Emmanuelle Riva. Since her first nomination in 2011 for Winter’s Bone, Lawrence has considerably grown as a brilliant, expressive actress who packs an emotional punch. If you find yourself watching or re-watching Silver Linings Playbook in the near future (which I wholeheartedly urge you to do), keep an eye out for her spot-on facial expressions and body languages.

Best Supporting Actor/Actress:

The other two acting awards went to two equally-deserving stars from two drastically different films. Christoph Waltz won the Best Supporting Actor for playing Dr. King Schultz, the German dentist/bounty hunter, in Quentin Tarantino’s historical epic revenge fantasy, Django Unchained. Like Day-Lewis, Waltz steals every scene with his disarming style and endless charm, even in the face of the pure evil of the plantation owner, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Anne Hathaway’s victory for playing Fantine in Tom Hooper’s screen adaptation of popular musical Les Misérables was perhaps one of the least surprising moments of the night. Though Fantine does not get much screen time in Les Mis, Hathaway brings an incredible level of emotion to her tragic role.

Best Director Race:

The aforementioned Best Director race was controversial because it failed to recognize Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) with nominations. The race eventually boiled down to a standoff between Ang Lee (Life of Pi) and Steven Spielberg (Lincoln). Lee took the prestigious award in the end, just as he had done in 2006 for Brokeback Mountain.

I would have given the award to David O. Russell, the man behind Silver Linings Playbook, but I am admittedly extremely biased toward that movie (Seriously, you really should go watch it right now. Okay, I’ll stop now. But please, go see it). Still, Lee did a great job of bringing Yann Martel’s imaginative masterpiece of a novel to life in beautiful, high definition 3D, completed with incredible CGI effects. As a member of the visual effects team for the film bluntly stated while accepting the award for Best Visual Effects, everything in the film (especially Richard Parker, the awe-inspiring tiger) looks so real, but it is—for the most part—completely fake.

Recap of Oscars 2013:

Oddly enough, this year at the Oscars six of the major awards were attributed to six different films: Argo for Picture, Lincoln for Actor, Silver Linings Playbook for Actress, Django Unchained for Supporting Actor, Les Mis for Supporting Actress, and Life of Pi for Director. This was a great way for the Academy to recognize all of the brilliant filmmaking of 2012. Some repetitions were finally seen in the Best Screenplay awards, with Quentin Tarantino’s award for his Original Screenplay for Django Unchained, and with Chris Terrio’s award for adapting the screenplay for Argo (Argo wasbased on an actual account of the Iran hostage crisis from former CIA operative Tony Mendez, played by Affleck in the film).

As for the award show itself, funnyman Seth MacFarlane was, in my opinion, a great host. Best known for creating Family Guy as well as last year’s hilarious comedy Ted, MacFarlane kept the jokes coming.

Other notable appearances were: William Shatner, Goldfinger theme song-singer Shirley Bassey, Skyfall theme song-singer Adele, most of the cast of The Avengers, and, perhaps most impressively, almost the entire cast of Les Misérables, which put on a memorable on-stage performance of a song from the musical.

Hollywood’s biggest night was a success. Allow me to conclude by returning to the night’s biggest winner, Argo. Brilliantly put together by Affleck and his team, Argo features memorable and sometimes hilarious performances from Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Alan Arkin. And the emotional payoff at the end of the movie is worth the price of admission alone. So, please, if you haven’t already, check out Argo—it’s the 85th film in an ever-lengthening list of movies to go down in history as Oscar’s pick for Best Picture.

For a complete list of nominees and winners, check out the Oscars website.

Pictures taken by courtesy of Entertainment News.

Andy Peters is a current LSA Sophomore studying English at the University of Michigan. He enjoys music, movies, TV shows, books, and coffee (all in copious quantities). He is also an aspiring writer who would love to someday write for a living.

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