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Commentary: Seth MacFarlane a funny, capable host, Jennifer Lawrence a scene-stealer at 85th Oscars

Courtesy of MCT

Call me a hipster, but I have opinions that might differ from most regarding the 85th Annual Academy Awards that aired Sunday night.
For one thing, I found Seth MacFarlane to be a humorous, capable host. Sure, some of his jokes crossed my own moral lines, like the tasteless jibe at all the women present who “gave yourselves the flu two weeks ago to ‘get there'” to fit in their dresses. But at other times MacFarlane’s quips were witty and then over before they could become overkill. For example, when it was nearing midnight and finally reaching the end of the evening’s festivities, he took note.
“We’re going to go ahead and start the 2014 Oscars right after this (commercial break),” MacFarlane said.
He even attacked his own sense of humor from the very beginning, particularly in a segment of the opening monologue featuring William Shatner in his classic getup as Captain Kirk from the original “Star Trek.” Shatner showed MacFarlane’s future as the worst Oscar host ever, complete with offensive dance numbers and puppets. This host recognized that he is at once loved and hated by audiences, and used that to his benefit by making fun of his own material.
Some of the celebrities that were paired together to present were entertaining while others just fell apart, leaving me feeling awkward and uncomfortable just watching the mess unfold. Several actors from the cast of “The Avengers” presented the awards for Best Cinematography and Visual Effects, playing off of one another to keep the banter from feeling too rehearsed.
Another shining pair of presenters were the stars of the film “Ted,” Mark Wahlberg and the fluffy little potty mouth himself. These funny guys announced the awards for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. Though this segment was mostly prerecorded due to the fact that Ted is, well, not real, it was absolutely a high point of the show for me. I never thought I’d see the day when I couldn’t stop laughing at a stuffed bear saying the words “secret synagogue meeting.”
Daniel Radcliffe and Kristen Stewart, on the other hand, introduced the award for Best Production Design and proved to be painful to watch. Stewart almost missed her cue to continue speaking, much to the chagrin of Radcliffe who had to stare at her intently for several seconds before she realized something was wrong.
A duo that was neither great nor horrendous, just an oddity, featured Jack Nicholson and a surprise visit via satellite from Michelle Obama to present the award for Best Picture. Though I can’t understand the reason to incorporate the first lady into a purely Hollywood celebration, I can’t say I wasn’t impressed when I saw her on the screen. Who wouldn’t be?
I had mixed feelings regarding the musical performances that took place between the presentations. The celebration of movie musicals included tunes from “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls” and “Les Misérables and from start to finish they were both powerful and captivating. As part of the James Bond tribute, Shirley Bassey sang “Goldfinger” in a performance that was wholly unnecessary and uninteresting. Adele later performed “Skyfall,” before taking the Oscar for Best Original Song, another Bond song, and her nervousness appeared to get the best of her. She didn’t belt the song in a way that I was expecting, and I quickly lost interest with this performance as well.
As far as the actual awards were concerned, there were only several upsets and surprises throughout the night.
In the category of Best Director, Ang Lee won for his work with “Life of Pi,” while I had completely given my vote to Steven Spielberg for fan favorite, “Lincoln.” Also a surprise was the announcement of a tie between “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Skyfall” in the category of sound editing. This is only the sixth time this has happened in any category at the Academy Awards.
Despite all the glitz and glamour of the awards, I think the highlight of the night was Jennifer Lawrence winning the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Not only because it was her first Oscar win, but because she tripped up the stairs on her way to accept it. Even when she made it to the microphone, the awkwardness wasn’t over.
“You guys are just standing up because you feel bad I fell,” Lawrence said to the audience. And in that moment, I – and probably the rest of the world – became a little bit more obsessed with the actress that is so normal and awkward, she makes the rest of us look cool.
The Academy Awards aired Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. on ABC, with red carpet coverage beginning at 7 p.m. 

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