On Sunday afternoon, I popped in my Blu-ray copy of Beasts of the Southern Wild which would complete my ennealogy of Best Picture nominees. I’m afraid to say it’s probably the one I liked least. Partly this is due to the fact that movies short on plot but long on squalor just don’t tend to engage me, and partly it’s due to the fact that the one element which is potentially the most interesting is poorly integrated into the main narrative. However, that’s not to say it isn’t a fine piece of filmmaking. In what’s been a generally quite strong year, Beasts simply isn’t to my taste, rather than genuinely bad like, say, War Horse, Extremely Long and Incredibly Shit or Midnight in Paris.

So while its disjointed and slender narrative, eccentric use of fantasy and limited supporting cast might not have entirely worked for me, I did enjoy some of the individual set-pieces and – like everyone – was completely captivated by both Dwight Henry and especially tiny, extraordinary Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy. She makes the entire movie worth watching with her pint sized charisma and astonishing lung-power.

On to the main event. Seth MacFarlane’s hosting faced the usual horrible cleft stick. Does the host adopt the irreverent tone for which they are known and risk a backlash from the self-important Hollywood elite? Or should they play it safe and leave fans wondering who on earth is this ghostly photocopy of their idol? MacFarlane managed with unerring accuracy to dive straight between these two stools. Whereas Tina Fey and Amy Poehler pulled off the trick of appealing both to their smug hosts and their own fans, MacFarlane was just crass enough to piss off those to whom the Academy Awards are everything, but far from extreme enough to be a genuinely bracing breath of fresh air. William Shatner’s wheezing cameo was clunky in conception and execution and “We Saw Your Boobs” was just embarrassing.

On to the awards themselves. Regular readers will know that I told them there was no point betting on Spielberg for Best Director and Lincoln for Best Picture and this certainly proved to be sage advice, although for all the wrong reasons. Almost as soon as I made my prediction, Lincoln’s lead began to evaporate and Argo which many considered a spent force, released far too early to clean up at the Oscars, experienced a huge resurgence. So while I’m smarting at my error, I’m delighted that Argo, my favourite film of the year, took the main prize. With Affleck not nominated as director, despite his beautifully precise handling of Argo’s mise-en-scene, the field was wide open and I suppose a win for Ang Lee is justified. I was less impressed with the Academy’s decision to give Christoph Waltz a second gong for essentially the same performance a second time around, but very happy indeed for Jennifer Lawrence. I might have to go and watch The Hunger Games now…

The Oscars 2013 – Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook
So… what did I think about Series 7b so far?