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Miller: No clear winner in Oscar contest

February 28, 2013|By Michael Miller

For some in Newport-Mesa, the 85th annual Academy Awards telecast may have prompted a three-word response: "Oh, hey, guys."

Within minutes of the show's beginning, William Shatner, who recently brought his one-man show to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, appeared on a massive screen in a sketch with host Seth MacFarlane. "Inocente," which played last month at the Irvine International Film Festival, won for Best Documentary Short. And somewhere in that crowd was Gene Allen, the former Academy president who lives in Newport Beach.

Some of those local ties were expected; Allen has been a regular face at the show since the 1950s, and at least one pundit predicted "Inocente's" victory. On the other hand, Shatner's appearance — in which he beamed himself in from the future to prevent MacFarlane from bombing as host — came as a surprise.

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So, for that matter, did a number of the winners. Christoph Waltz, who won Best Supporting Actor several years ago for a Quentin Tarantino movie, pulled off the same feat in an upset over Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones. "Brave," which earned lukewarm reviews, toppled the beloved "Wreck-It Ralph" for Best Animated Feature.

And few probably expected Ang Lee ("Life of Pi") to edge Steven Spielberg ("Lincoln") for Best Director. So how did our readers do in Times Community News' annual Oscar guessing contest? The answer is, not very well — and neither did I. Of the top six categories, I guessed only Best Picture, Actor and Supporting Actress correctly, while our most accurate readers tied with two apiece.

As any grade-school teacher can testify, 50% is not a passing grade. So rather than anoint myself the winner of this year's contest, I'm just going to declare no winner at all. But if our contest had a victor, I hope he or she would be as eloquent and funny as Daniel Day-Lewis was in his Best Actor acceptance speech. Disabled artist, iconic president, stand-up comedian — is there any role this man can't play to perfection?

Other assorted thoughts on the show:

Bring it on: It seems like every year, people complain about the length of the Oscars. I'm not in that camp; the show only takes place once a year, so an extra 20 or 30 minutes doesn't hurt. That said, if I had to make it shorter, I would start by cutting the tributes and montages — 50 years of James Bond, 10 years of musicals, etc. The memorial montage toward the end is always reverence enough. Less mist and more merriment!

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