Film and Television Features

The No Ripcord 2013 Oscars Review

Round-about this time last week a global audience of film and fashion buffs were settling down to watch the annual hoopla of style, speeches, self indulgence & spectacularly misguided skits that is the Academy Awards. And most of them spent the evening live-blogging the event on twitter. While I'd like to claim that we here at No Ripcord didn't participate because we long ago realised the futility of such endeavours (on a fittingly 'indie' note The Mountain Goats summed the whole situation up rather nicely), really it's because our plans were shelved at the last minute due to technical difficulties.

On the plus side, that meant that I didn't have to subject myself to too much of Seth MacFarlane's shtick; bearing in mind that his opening monologue and the slow-motion car-crash that was the We Saw Your Boobs number (dressing up your retrograde sexism as 'ironic' doesn't instantly make it so) still made it into the 'Highlights' show that I managed to catch the next day, I hate to think just how bad the rest of the show got. And the winners weren't terrible: Argo was very entertaining (even if it was far from perfect)! As was Searching for Sugar Man! Daniel Day-Lewis really was astonishingly good in Lincoln (though the rest of the film wasn't all that really, was it?)! Michael Haneke now has an Oscar (even though he really deserved to get it for The White Ribbon instead)! Even though my Bond theme 'fact' in the Oscars preview feature was pretty much wrong, Adele's victory does make Skyfall the first Oscar winner in the franchise's 50 year history! Plus fans of rather middling mid 00's indie will no doubt be thrilled to hear that the frontman of perpetual bridesmaids Stellastarr* now has an Oscar! 

Or maybe I'm able to look on the positive side because I didn't have to sit through the whole four hour extravaganza and actually got to bed at a reasonable(ish) time this year? So without further ado, I'm going to hand you over to a couple of the No Ripcord Film team who actually did see the whole ghastly affair (or at least more of it than I did).

Mark Davison

Film & TV Editor

Grant Phipps

The worst part of the 2013 Oscars, for me, wasn't any insensitive comment from host Seth MacFarlane but news that Erland Josephson, the great Swedish film actor, had passed. He was honored briefly in a silent 'In Memoriam' montage, introduced by George Clooney, which paid accolades to everyone in the industry from major actors to composers and publicists; it was the most moving moment of the show, and it lasted a few mere minutes.

The remainder of the laborious near-four-hour production was initially denoted as a tribute to musicals, which immediately foreshadowed some kind of lavish momentum killer in the dead middle of things. Perhaps the Academy was attempting to complement emphasis on the musical revival with Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame, who is known for mixing risqué low brow humor with a kind of lounge singer musicality. Some people were more upset than others by his routine. The misogyny mounted quickly, including comments about Chris Brown and Rihanna, an opening mock musical number called "We Saw Your Boobs," jabs at women starving themselves for their Oscar attire, to a wildly inappropriate remark about Quvenzhané Wallis and George Clooney. Maybe it was fitting, then, that a tribute to fifty years of James Bond followed. Not all of MacFarlane's jokes misfired, particularly when he was on topic, highlighting Ben Affleck's 'Best Director' snub, the lack of Jean Dujardin's presence in any recent films after his 'Best Leading Actor' win for The Artist last year. ("His is a tragic, age-old Hollywood story; he couldn't make it in the talkies"). And, at least he got a comment right about his own "mediocre effort," Ted, one of the worst films of 2012 in my opinion.

Sources were quick to proclaim this year's awards as "democratic," as no film received multiple Oscars in the most prestigious categories. However, popular polling seemed to predict something like seventeen of twenty-four categories correctly, which was not all that surprising. (Having just seen The Master, Philip Seymour Hoffman was unfairly ignored for 'Best Supporting Actor,' though). Interest in the show was sustained by the more intimate moments like the graceful acceptance speeches of John Kahrs for 'Best Animated Short', Paperman, and Jacqueline Durran for 'Best Costume Design' in Anna Karenina. Daniel Day-Lewis delivered his speech for 'Best Leading Actor' with a blend of gravitas and wit, not unlike the president he portrays in Spielberg's Lincoln. And the team behind 'Best Documentary Short,' Inocente, urged us to "stand up for the arts" in our communities. Sound advice; maybe if we do, we won't receive another host like Seth MacFarlane the next time around.

Alan Shulman:

I fell asleep about halfway through the Oscars which, sure, is par for the course for me these days, but I think more acutely reflects how much the telecast bores to death even the most ardent of movie buffs, which maybe I can’t really call myself, but for the purposes of this article I will anyway, with its endless parade of shit that, yeah I know, people worked long and hard for, but that nobody in the TV audience gives a shit about, like Best Key Grip and Best Animated Non-Porn, Computer Generated Short in which Animals Who Don’t Usually Talk, Talk, and not to belittle anyone’s accomplishments that they’ve worked a lifetime to achieve with the sole goal that maybe, one day, they’d be standing on that stage with Jennifer Lopez, who it seems hasn’t been in a movie in years, and anyway wasn’t the last one Monster in Law or something, and taking from her a gleaming statue for all the billion bored people in the world to see, just to get up and thank a whole bunch of industry replicants nobody has heard of, well, let me tell you something, there’s a whole lot of those lethargic viewers that get up every day and bust their ass doing work that’ll never net them a statue or even a living wage over the course of three lifetimes, so go fuck yourself in the behind with Oscar’s head, you self important prick, and leave the telecast to the self important pricks that people actually want to see, in their tailored tuxes and bead-laden dresses, posing with their ass to the camera and their head turned back seductively which seems to be the requisite money-shot for the ladies nowadays, but which looks ridiculous when struck in the cold light of day on the red carpet in front of God and everyone, and maybe we can pare this sucker down to 45 minutes with commercials and squeeze it in between a very special episode of Modern Family in which Sofia Vergara loses her accent, and a vintage episode of Celebrity Wife Swap where Joanne Woodward and Elizabeth Taylor switch places and havoc ensues, and then we’d all be happy, except maybe the Best Technical Adviser in a Buddy Movie, whose name people will no longer have an opportunity to forget immediately after they hear it announced. perhaps they really were unwatchable this year then. Oh well, only 358 days until the next one, I hear that Billy Crystal's available.