It’s been 50 years since the first James Bond film premiered, and that is good enough to secure an entire slot dedicated to the franchise. Though the latest incarnation of the film itself, “Skyfall,” only received a few nominations.
But the masses were promised something good, including performances by Dame Shirley Bassey and Adele. Which led to one of Style reporter Dan Zak’s five possibilities for the evening’s show:
5. Shirley Bassey schools Adele. She may be a shoo-in for tonight’s best-song award, but Adele ain’t got nothing on Bassey, who sang theme songs for three James Bond movies and just two years ago gave this crackling performance of “Goldfinger.”
Bassey’s performance did not disappoint, according to Amy Argetsinger of Style Blog:
How was this song, the best of all Bond songs, not nominated for Best Song back in 1964? Just checked: It wasn’t. “Chim-Chim-Cher-ee” from “Mary Poppins” won that year (not even the best song from “Mary Poppins” but whatever). Obviously, Dame Shirley Bassey just killed it tonight, but you might still want to go back and listen to the original.
So that was our James Bond 50th anniversary tribute. Weeks ago, we were tantalized with reports of all six Bond stars reuniting on stage, but it apparently fell through.
TV critic Hank Steuver agreed on Bassey’s performance:
At its first lull, the telecast honored the 50th anniversary of James Bond movies, something the infotainment industry has been celebrating for what feels like two or three years now. The Academy’s tribute to Bond was mostly just one more clip job — has anything so reliably mediocre received more pop-culture accolades than the 007 franchise? But it was saved by the rare sighting and true, pre-Beyonce era pipes of Dame Shirley Bassey, who came out to sing “Goldfinger” and was resplendent in all the latest cryogenic technology.
In an unfortunate comparison of how today is never quite like yesterday, the fabulous Adele came out and sang her recent Bond theme song, “Skyfall.” Not a bad song (and, in fact, it did win best original song), but sadly, the best we can do nowadays, collectively, as a popular culture.
Despite the rousing performance, the film tribute and zero former Bonds made for a pretty weak package, according to Jessica Goldstein of Style Blog:
It’s been 50 years of Bond in motion pictures. We were promised a Bond actor reunion. All six were supposed to assemble, much like the Avengers before them. But can all the Bonds be in one place simultaneously? I worry about what such a thing would do to the time-space continuum. Instead we get zero Bonds and one Halle Berry, possibly to symbolize that one woman is worth half a dozen men.
We are treated to a video montage of Bond movies. This montage feels about 50 years long, but of course this is not a problem! This isn’t valuable time that could be used for winners’ acceptance speeches, so a person might be able to get out some gratitude to a parent before the “Jaws” theme marches them off to the wings.
More on the 2013 Academy Awards: