LOS ANGELES – “Life of Pi” continues to defy expectations. The fable-adventure about a young man and a tiger sharing a life raft after a ship wreck has earned nearly $600 million worldwide.
And now it has two Oscars – and maybe more – to show for the leap of faith it took to bring the bestselling book to the big screen.
Ang Lee’s film headed into the 85th Academy Awards with 11 nominations, including best picture and director. It’s snapped up two Oscars, for cinematographer Claudio Miranda and for its stunning visual effects.
Singer Shirley Bassey, who made her Oscar debut Sunday night, received the night’s first standing ovation, for her performance of her classic 1965 hit “Goldfinger” during the ceremony’s celebration of 50 years of James Bond. The age-defying 76-year-old Welsh singer was appropriately decked out in a strapless, curve-hugging gold gown with matching full-length gloves.
In other honors, Christoph Waltz took supporting actor for his performance as a bounty hunter in the slavery Western “Django Unchained.” Disney’s “Paperman” won animated short, while Disney / Pixar’s “Brave” won animated feature film. Mark Andrews, one of “Brave’s” directors, wore a kilt onstage to accept the honor for the film, set in Scotland. Jacqueline Durran won costume design for the period romance “Anna Karenina” and the Oscar for makeup and hairstyle went to Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell for “Les Miserables.”
Oscars host Seth MacFarlane did the impossible Sunday night as he kicked off the 85th Academy Awards: He made Tommy Lee Jones smile.
MacFarlane – and his raunchy sense of humor – was an edgy choice for the Oscars but came across as poised and confident as the show began. And while some feared that “The Family Guy” creator and “Ted” director would turn a scathing laser beam on others, he largely turned it on himself.
“It’s an honor that everyone else said no,” MacFarlane joked about being asked to host the show.
The opening monologue was interrupted by Captain Kirk — aka William Shatner — who time-traveled to stop MacFarlane from ruining the show in part by singing a song titled “We Saw Your Boobs.”
“Why can’t Tina and Amy host everything?” Kirk cracked, and then persuaded MacFarlane to sing something much more appropriate: the Oscar-winning “The Way You Look tonight” as Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron danced like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Though Ben Affleck’s Iran hostage drama, “Argo,” has swept most of the awards this year, the Academy Awards have always been full of surprises. Remember the audiences’ shock seven years ago when the best picture winner was “Crash” and not the favored “Brokeback Mountain”?
As far as the acting races, it would be a major upset if Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t win his third lead actor Oscar, for “Lincoln.”
Other races are open. Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) are among the top contenders for lead actress, but one can’t rule out eldest nominee Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”), who turned 86 on Oscar Sunday. The youngest nominee of the night is also competing for lead actress: 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”).
For supporting actress, Anne Hathaway has won almost every award, including the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award, as the doomed prostitute in “Les Miserables.” It would be a surprise if she doesn’t win Sunday night.
Affleck’s omission from the list of director nominees means that if “Argo” wins best picture, it will be the only the fourth time that a movie has won an Oscar without its director being nominated for an Academy Award as well.
Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”) and Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”) are seen as having the edge in the director’s race because both were nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award. History shows that since the inception of the DGA Awards, no director has won the best director Oscar without also earning a DGA nomination.
Competing with Spielberg and Lee are David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook,” Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and Michael Haneke for “Amour.”
The Oscars are telecast live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.