Unfortunately I cannot speak for the show as a whole, as the UK is 8 hours behind LA, which is quite a long time when it’s a 4 hour show starting after most people are usually in bed. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have caught up with the key moments and am ready to make some comment!
In the style of an American wartime song, complete with stomping dancing and swinging arms, Seth MacFarlane somehow managed to get away with singing a song entitled ‘We Saw Your Boobs’. To us at home- and probably the men in the audience- this was hilariously outrageous, with a catchy tune and some typical MacFarlane cheekiness. However, we were shown the reactions of two of the actresses mentioned, Naomi Watts and Charlize Theron, and they looked both horrified and angry to be called out on it. Jennifer Lawrence won this round (before triumphing in the Best Actress category, of course) with Seth’s line of ‘we haven’t seen Jennifer Lawrence’s boobs at all’ prompting a cheer and fist pump from her. While this song was quite childish it was a brilliant way to lighten the mood, especially since it is likely that the actresses were actually in on the joke.
On a less coarse note, Seth MacFarlane was also joined by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe (a trio that only highlighted the latter’s height issues) for a rendition of ‘High Hopes’. Dan was the weakest singer of the three, but not by as much as you may expect, and he and Joseph made their framing dancing appear effortless, especially when they did the half-handstand move. As a short joke to counter the Shatner pre-recording telling MacFarlane off for being too crude, this was a wonderful little interlude.
Similarly, there was another great song and dance moment later on, with Seth singing ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ whilst Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron swirled beautifully together around him, reminding the audience of these actors and actresses’ second talents that are often forgotten about.
Moving onto the musicals section of the evening, this is where I become slightly biased, as I am unhealthily obsessed with Les Misérables and am also a pretty big fan of Chicago (although I hated Dream Girls at the cinema). Catherine Zeta-Jones’ rendition of ‘All That Jazz’ was perfectly sultry and she held herself with pride, both against the stillness of the opening riff and the business that came with the chorus’ entry. Equally, Jennifer Hudson’s provided a bombastic reminder of why she won her Oscar for Dream Girls six years ago, leaving it impossible for anyone to deny the power and impressiveness of her voice whether they like her or not.
However, I must say unreservedly that the cast of Les Misérables absolutely stole the show for me. Unfortunately, the medley was not perfectly arranged, with the start of ‘One Day More’ changed into ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, several lines then cut from the former, including half of Enjolras’ declamatory verse, and some lines splayed together, with Javert and the Thenardiers entering instead at almost the same time. Despite this, the entire cast did a wonderful job, from Hugh Jackman’s opening ‘Suddenly’ (not nearly one of the best songs in the musical, but well suited to his voice), to the moment Anne Hathaway deserved, to Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne’s beautiful duet (and his later, all-important ‘my place is here, I fight with you’), to Aaron Tveit’s storming entry towards the front of the stage, let alone the collected ensemble from various stage productions. Considering the cast had not previously sung on stage together – and some of them never before at all- this was a very well-gelled and welcome performance.
Finally, Adele of course sang ‘Skyfall’ which offered little new except the occasional awkwardness of Adele when not behind a piano and the richness of a live orchestra, although it proved itself the perfect Best Original Song. To continue James Bond’s 50th anniversary celebrations, Dame Shirley Bassey made a brilliant comeback with ‘Goldfinger’, the definitive singer singing a definitive James Bond song, with few having the charisma and voice to match hers in this performance- she’s still got it!
Clearly, despite negative press around the Academy Awards nowadays and the ‘predictability’ of its awards, they still know how to put on a good show!