- Associated Press - Sunday, February 24, 2013

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Christoph Waltz really owes Quentin Tarantino. Waltz won his second supporting-actor Academy Award on Sunday for a Tarantino film, this time as a genteel bounty hunter in the slave-revenge saga “Django Unchained.”

In a choked voice, Waltz offered thanks to his character and “to his creator and the creator of his awe-inspiring world, Quentin Tarantino.”

A veteran performer in Germany and his native Austria, Waltz had been a virtual unknown in Hollywood when Tarantino cast him as a gleefully evil Nazi in 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds,” which won him his first Oscar.

Waltz has since done a handful of other Hollywood movies, but it’s Tarantino who has given him his two choicest roles.


Oscar host Seth MacFarlane opened with a mildly edgy monologue that offered the usual polite jabs at the academy, the stars and the industry. He took a poke at academy voters over the snub of Ben Affleck, who missed out on a directing nomination for best-picture favorite “Argo,” a thriller about the CIA’s plot to rescue six Americans during the Iranian hostage crisis.

“The story was so top secret that the film’s director is unknown to the academy,” MacFarlane said. “They know they screwed up. Ben, it’s not your fault.”

William Shatner made a guest appearance as his “Star Trek” character Capt. James Kirk, appearing on a giant screen above the stage during MacFarlane’s monologue, saying he came back in time to stop the host from ruining the Oscars.

“Your jokes are tasteless and inappropriate, and everyone ends up hating you,” said Shatner, who revealed a headline supposedly from the next day’s newspaper with a headline reading, “Seth MacFarlane worst Oscar host ever.”

The performance-heavy Oscars also included an opening number featuring Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum, who did a classy dance while MacFarlane crooned “Just the Way You Look Tonight.” Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt then joined MacFarlane for an elegant musical rendition of “High Hopes.”

Fans have pondered how far MacFarlane the impudent creator of “Family Guy,” might push the normally prim and proper Oscars.

MacFarlane may be a wild card, but as for the show itself, predictability could be the Academy Awards’ middle name. This time looks the same, with clear favorites in the main categories.

So Oscar organizers hope they’ve assembled a show that will be good time on its own performance merits, with wily, bawdy writer, director, animator, singer and all-around vocal talent MacFarlane as host and a ceremony packed with song and dance.

The awards themselves do hold some potential firsts and other rarities.

Affleck’s “Argo” looks like it will be an uncommon film to claim best picture without a directing nomination, while “Lincoln” filmmaker Steven Spielberg and star Daniel Day-Lewis are favored to join exclusive lists of three-time Oscar winners.

Affleck was not counting on anything, though.

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