Clocking in at three hours and 35 minutes, this year’s Academy Award presentation saw a democratic spread of trophies among the films nominated, with Life of Pi taking home four statues and Best Picture winner Argo and the musical Les Misérables each winning three. Host Seth MacFarlane began the evening with a tepid tribute to movie musicals, aided by Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron in a rather suave Astaire-Rogers routine to Kern and Fields’ “The Way You Look Tonight” (1936, Swing Time) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe in an under-rehearsed soft shoe to Sammy Cahn’s “High Hopes” (1959, A Hole in the Head), capped off with an inscrutable finale segment of Menken and Ashman’s “Be Our Guest” (1991, Beauty and the Beast).
Later in the evening, all three supporting actress winners from movie musicals in the past decade performed highlights from their Oscar-honored performances. Catherine Zeta-Jones (2002, Chicago) offered Kander and Ebb’s iconic “All That Jazz” and Jennifer Hudson (2006, Dreamgirls) brought the theater to its feet with Krieger and Eyen’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” while Anne Hathaway (2013, Les Misérables) was joined by fellow nominee Hugh Jackman and the entire film cast for Schönberg and Boublil’s “One Day More” as the rousing finale of the “Celebration of Musicals” segment. (Academy officials said all performances were sung live, but it appeared to me that Zeta-Jones was lip-synching.) Another musical highlight of the evening was Barbra Streisand’s “In Memoriam” tribute to composer Marvin Hamlisch, with a poignant performance of the Oscar-winning song “The Way We Were,” which Hamlisch co-wrote with Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
In addition to Anne Hathaway’s win for best supporting actress, Les Misérables was honored for its sound mixing (Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Simon Hayes) and its makeup and hairstyling (Lisa Westcott, Julie Dartnell), converting three of eight nominations. Other musical award winners of the evening included Searching for Sugar Man (Best Documentary Feature) and “Skyfall” (Best Song), co-written by Adele, the girl with the Midas touch this year.