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Seth MacFarlane’s first joke of the night? "The quest to make Tommy Lee Jones begins now." Jones did laugh at the wisecrack, but was it out of embarrassment for being the butt of such a lame gag?

Aw, but let’s give the guy a break. He’s handsome; he’s youthful; he’s got a broadcast-friendly voice that’s light years from Peter Griffith or evil maniac infant Stewie. He can even sing... more or less. He just needs better material than what he has to work with here. Where were the puerile laugh lines that have made "Family Guy" such a hit?

William Shatner is getting bigger and more genuine laughs with his absurd cameo as Captain Kirk, phoning in from three centuries hence to warn MacFarlane that he’s on the verge of blowing it with stuff like a musical number called "We Saw Your Boobs." Which, to be honest, is better than anything else so far -- especially when the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles appear as backup.

"Trust me," Kirk zings MacFarlane. "In 2015, you join the chorus."

With Daniel Radcliff and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt joining him for some "soft shoe" set to "High Hopes," that prognostication seems not so very far-fetched. (We can dream, can’t we?) For the moment, though, MacFarlane goes home in one skit with Sally Field. Sally Field?!?

MacFarlane is a huge trekkie, by the way. Hence Shatner dropping in on the proceedings. I have to say, it’s livened things up quite a lot...

And with that, we warp into the meat of the matter and start handing out statuettes!

Best Supporting Actor
The nominees: Alan Arkin, Robert DeNiro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Christoph Waltz. And the Oscar goes to Christoph Waltz for "Django Unchained"! He won it for his portrayal as a Nazi in "Inglorious Basterds," too. Tarantino is the best thing that ever happened to him. Certainly better than his role in "The Green Hornet."

Why does the orchestra keep playing a bit from the score to "E.T. The Extraterrestrial"? I know MacFarlane is kind of strange but still.

Paul Rudd and some woman now here to offer some incomprehensible shtick evidently poking fun at voiceover performances for animated features. Lots of dead air. Lots of dying on the air. Rudd has the sense to cut it short with a snap.

Animation Awards
Something called "Paperman." What, we’re actually gonna see this anywhere? Who knows, maybe as a special feature on some Pixar Blu-ray release.

"Brave" takes it -- HAHAHA! "Brave" was my choice, and my Boston Online Film Critics Association colleagues chose "Paranorman." Who’s laughing now?

Reese Witherspoon glides out to deliver anodyne and pre-packaged comments about some of the nominees for Best Picture. Yeah, yeah. At least the extended clips of "Les Miserables," "Life of Pi" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild" work as samples of the movies; each clip captures the tone and spirit of the films from which they’re derived.

Insult to injury follows when MacFarlane makes an off-color joke about George Clooney and then tosses him a nip -- "Here, you can be the only guy in here who’s not buzzed."

Technical Awards, Costume Makeup
That serves as the lead-up to an appearance by nearly half a dozen of the actors from "The Avengers," which MacFarlane notes was "the most popular movie of 2012, which is why it was only nominated once." Out file Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jeremy Renner.

Why are these costumed heroes here, albeit not in costume? To tell us that Claudio Miranda has won for Best Cinematography for "Life of Pi." Totally deserved: "Life of Pi" is a heavenly dream of a good-looking movie. "This movie was quite a beast to make," Miranda declares. Nice one, dude.

The "Avengers" guys hang around for Best Visual Effects. Nominees: "The Hobbit," "Life of Pi," "The Avengers," "Prometheus," and "Snow White and the Huntsman" are all up. The prize goes home with the team who created the effects for "Life of Pi." We better hope these "Avengers" guys take their loss in stride like true heroes.

Two wins in quick succession is nice, but I want "Life of Pi" to win some of the big, sexy, glamorous awards, even though I know that it should not win for Best Picture. That should be "Zero Dark Thirty," though that film’s chances may have gotten scuttled by the politics into which it waded, what with waterboarding and all.

Nor should Ang Lee win for Best Director; actually, Spielberg ought to take it for "Lincoln." Had Kathryn Bigelow won a spot on the ballot for "Zero Dark Thirty," she’s the one who really deserves the nod, but she didn’t, so you go with what you get. Knowing this doesn’t make a difference; I still want Lee and "Life of Pi" to win big. Ah, at least the movie took a couple of prizes.

The guy accepting the statuette talks too long. Will the Avengers assemble? Nope... the orchestra simply swaps the saccharine of "E.T." for the menace of the "Jaws" score and plays them off.

Anna Karenina wins Best Costume. I’m glad to see it. The movie was a dreadful misfire in so many ways, but it did look gorgeous.

The way they made up Anthony Hopkins for "Hitchcock" beats all that latex for a dozen dwarves in "The Hobbit," but evidently the deliberately ugly hairstyles in "Les Miserables" impressed the voting membership even more. It wins Best Makeup and Hairstyles.


Next: Bond Girls Bond



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