Movie Fanatic Round Table: Oscar Highs and Lows

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The Oscar winners have been announced, and we have called together our Movie Fanatic Round Table to get some veteran movie journalists' insight into Hollywood's biggest night. We asked our esteemed panel for their highlights (and a few low lights) from the night that saw Seth MacFarlane host and Argo winning Best Picture.

Movie Fanatic Round Table Pic

Ryan Downey,

One highlight of the 2013 Oscars for me was seeing James Bond celebrated with not one but two standing ovation worthy musical performances.

Adele Academy Awards

And as someone who has liked Ben Affleck since Good Will Hunting, through the Kevin Smith movies, even in Jersey Girl and Daredevil (seriously the director's cut is solid!); who even appreciated the Hitchcock thing he and John Woo tried to go for in the poorly titled Paycheck, I was so happy to see his career resurgence come full circle.

I haven't talked to him in years, but, each time I interviewed him back in the day, he was personable, intelligent, funny and passionate about his work. Every movie he's directed has been A+. It's a shame he wasn't nominated in the directing category, but, Best Picture is pretty awesome. Daniel Day-Lewis rightly deserved that Oscar. I loved his performance, even though I didn't love the movie. But the biggest highlight for me?

Well... Remember when Chris Rock hosted and did the whole bit about how "real" people like movies like The Chronicles of Riddick? A big highlight for me is the fact that Argo, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, The Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained are all at, or near, or past $100 million at the domestic box-office. Who says quality and commercial appeal have to be mutually exclusive?

Joel Amos,

Daniel Day Lewis’ acceptance speech hit all the right notes. The Irish actor, who is downright humble considering this is his third Oscar, was equally humorous and appreciative. We all knew the moment that the first Lincoln trailer debuted that the Oscar would go to Lewis. That is why it was such a blessing that he gave the speech he gave. Lewis knew the moment was huge and rose to the occasion.

Daniel Day Lewis Academy Awards

Another highlight was the Bond singers, as Ryan mentioned. Was it me, or did Adele seem to have a few nerves as she begun? Perhaps it was because of the earlier chill-inducing performance of the original Bond singer, Shirley Bassey, and her killing it performance of Goldfinger as part of the Bond tribute. Unfortunately, although I did enjoy seeing Bond get his props, the video tribute lacked a bit.

Finally, our favorite performance by a Supporting Actor in 2012 was Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. But honestly, we never thought the Academy would reward him again for appearing in a Tarantino movie. We have never been so happy to be wrong -- even if it threw off our prediction percentage! 

Ned Ehbar, Metro World News

While I apparently enjoyed Seth MacFarlane's turn as host more than most people, nothing he did was as perfect as the Sound of Music bit introducing Christopher Plummer. It was simple, goofy and hilarious, and MacFarlane sold it. The highlights, for me, were mostly musical numbers -- and not MacFarlane's. (As funny as We Saw Your Boobs was, his comic song-and-dance bits brought to mind unfair comparisons to Hugh Jackman's go at hosting in 2009. Can we bring him back again?)

Adele was great, despite a horrible sound mix, and Dame Shirley Bassey gave me chills. I even loved Catherine Zeta-Jones, who looked fantastic doing All That Jazz, even if she was clearly lip-syncing.

As for the winners, Daniel Day-Lewis' acceptance speech was amazing, jumping from the hilarious to the heartfelt with aplomb. And if you thought Jennifer Lawrence was good onstage, check out her backstage press conference.

Gerrad Hall,

I had really high hopes for this year's Oscars -- Seth MacFarlane as host, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron with their producing credentials, the line-up of previously announced performers and presenters and tributes. Sadly, I thought the show fell completely flat, was very clunky and had no logical flow.

MacFarlane, it felt to me anyway, didn't get to be MacFarlane until post-monologue when he got to react to speeches and spontaneous moments. The William Shatner/Captain Kirk bit went on waaaaaaaaaaaaay too long; at least the We Saw Your Boobs song was funny (and is still stuck in my head).

The 50 Years of Bond tribute was a wasted opportunity for something great; I was singing "Gold-fing-GUH" -- literally just that line -- the rest of the night thanks to Shirley Bassey. And as great as Adele sounded, who the heck was mixing her? I wanted the sky to fall on that person.

While it sounds like I hated the broadcast, I didn't; I just had higher expectations. Thankfully we had moments like Jennifer Lawrence's quick wit while commenting on her fall, Ben Affleck's gracious speech, and Jennifer Hudson who practically stole the show. Can she get a Grammy -- or another Oscar -- for that? Congrats to all of the well-deserving winners, and cheers to a great year of film!

Eric Eisenberg,

I can’t say that Django Unchained was my favorite movie of last year, and it isn’t even my favorite Quentin Tarantino movie, but it was great seeing him win Best Original Screenplay last night.

Quentin Tarantino Oscar

Award shows recognize the conventional so rarely that the win was actually a genuine surprise, and it’s always great to see the truly talent, creative filmmakers in the industry get rewarded for their work.

Courtney Howard,

My favorite Oscar moment started on the red carpet and bled over into the show. Jennifer Lawrence and her no-nonsense attitude won over the hearts of many when she asked about food availability to E!'s Ryan Seacrest.

When it came time to accept her award, her epic trip going up the stairs was like a shout out to klutzes (like myself) everywhere. And she recovered tremendously from the spill with incredible grace. Excelsior!

Debbie Lynn Elias,

When I reflect on the 85th Annual Academy Awards there are several things that will always stand out as Oscar highlights, making this a more than memorable evening. First and foremost will be the music which embodied the show’s theme of saluting movie musicals of the past decade.

An opening dance number by Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron set to the 1936 Academy Award Best Original Song Winner, The Way You Look Tonight, not only paid homage to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but signified the impact and importance of Oscar music.

Catherine Zeta Jones Academy Awards

Given that Chicago danced away with the Best Picture Oscar 10 years ago, you knew there had to be a musical performance, and performance there was as Catherine Zeta-Jones shimmied, sizzled and (sadly) lip-synched in a glitzy razzmatazz production of the film’s signature song, All That Jazz. Razzle Dazzle!

Show-stopping was the Les Miserables cast performance (live) of One Day More and the Oscar-nominated Suddenly. C’est Magnifique!!

With the theme saluting movie musicals, it seems only fitting that there be one trip and fall in the mix. Surprisingly though, it came not in the performance numbers. Thanks to Jennifer Lawrence, who pulled one of my own signature moves, and fell "up" the stairs on her way to collect her Best Actress Oscar. Graceful and fluid, she carried on with poise as if nothing had happened. My kinda girl!

Sure, there was Adele, Barbra Streisand and even Michelle Obama, but the real highlight? Captain James T. Kirk himself, the REAL Captain Kirk. William Shatner beamed in from the future wearing his Star Trek: Generations uniform, stealing the show, giving host Seth MacFarlane perfect comedic set-ups and being, well, William Shatner. I felt like Oliver saying, "Please sit. I want some more."

William Shatner Oscars

Of course, with "highlights" come "low lights" and Oscar had plenty of these, not the least of which was the sound mixing during the live musical performances, particularly with Adele and Barbra Streisand. (No Emmy nominations for the Oscar broadcast sound guys!) And in one of the biggest awards disappointments and disses, cinematographer Roger Deakins walked away empty handed for the 10th time despite his stellar and stunning work on Skyfall.

But all in all, Oscar, I loved the way you looked tonight.....

James Oster,

Thankfully I was able to avoid the overlong Oscar presentation for the most part. Yet getting caught up afterwards, the two must see moments had everything to do with Jennifer Lawrence and Adele.

Both of these amazing and talented women shined with great speeches and of course Adele's fantastic performance. Otherwise the show seemed to drag aside from a couple of fun moments, thank God for a little Jennifer and Adele spunk!

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