Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oscars 2011: That's an (almost) Wrap

Gah! I am so behind now on all of this. As you've probably already figured out, I didn't live-blog this year's ceremony, and I only barely made it home in time after work to watch it. And I didn't even get my Best Picture post up before the ceremony (it's still in the works - it'll be up sometime this week). One day I'll be able to do this regularly again. I promise.

As for the ceremony itself, it was snappy, as promised, but still over two-and-a-half hours. Billy Crystal never fails to make me laugh, so I rather enjoyed his hosting. The direction was odd all night long, especially in the Cirque du Soleil number: it was impressive but confusing. Why not just do a wide shot so we could see everything? Oh, and I'm officially starting a campaign for Emma Stone to host next year's show. Who's in?

Here's a complete list of winners. Hugo and The Artist owned the night, with five Oscars each. 'Twas the year to celebrate the history of cinema, after all.

BEST PICTURE
The Artist


So for the first time since the first Academy Awards way back in 1928, a silent film has prevailed in Best Picture. Going into the night, it's win seemed sort of inevitable, though for a while it looked like Hugo might pull off the upset. If I'm correct, this is also the first time that a French film has ever won Best Picture. And of course, The Weinstein Company gets to add yet another trophy to its growing cabinet.

BEST ACTRESS
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady


After nearly three decades, Streep has finally won a third Oscar, tying her with Ingrid Bergman, Walter Brennan, and Jack Nicholson for the second-most acting Oscars of all time. Though I didn't think this was her best performance, it has fulfilled a desire of mine to see Streep win an Oscar in my lifetime (her last win was in 1982 for Sophie's Choice; I was born in 1989). And her acceptance speech was, as always, magnificent. The question now is: can she tie (or, gasp, beat) Katharine Hepburn's record four Oscars?

BEST ACTOR
Jean Dujardin, The Artist


Dujardin is the first Frenchman to win this award as well (overall, it was a good night for France). He's also the first performer to win an Oscar for a (mostly) silent performance since 1928 (I think...), which makes it all the more interesting. He didn't go full Benigni accepting his award, but he was clearly overjoyed, and hopefully we'll see more of him in the future on American screens (by which I mean, more French - and foreign in general - imports, please!).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Octavia Spencer, The Help


There's no real surprise here: Spencer had this one pretty much locked up before the night began. But damn if she didn't just about move me to tears with her speech, clearly overwhelmed by the fact that she won. And good for her: she earned it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christopher Plummer, Beginners


"You're only two years older than me; where have you been all my life?" I think that pretty much sums up how outrageous it is that Plummer is only now receiving his first Oscar. At 82 years old, he is officially the oldest acting Oscar winner ever. And if you haven't seen Beginners, go out and see it now.

BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist


If I'm right, Hazanavicius is the first French director to win this prize, and even though he won the DGA award, it still comes as a bit of a surprise, seeing as how many assumed that Martin Scorsese (everyone take a shot!) would win this prize. But just as we foolishly assumed David Fincher would prevail over Tom Hooper last year, it was Hazanavicius who charmingly accepted the prize.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Descendants; screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash


I'm going to be honest with you: I enjoyed their mocking of Angelina Jolie's ridiculous stance while presenting the award, but I was really hoping Rash would drop a "Save Community!" in there somewhere. This was, of course, the front-runner to win, and ended up being The Descendants' only prize of the night.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Midnight in Paris; written by Woody Allen


Woody Allen is the only person they'll give an Oscar to knowing full well that he won't be showing up to accept it in person. Although here's a fun fact: every time one of his films has been nominated for Best Picture, it's won a screenplay prize. And this is the first time since 2004 that the Best Picture winner did not win an Oscar for writing (Million Dollar Baby lost the Adapted Screenplay prize to Sideways, which was written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor).

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Rango

I was personally rooting for an upset by Chico & Rita, but Rango was a lot of fun, and probably truly deserved it.

BEST ART DIRECTION
Hugo; production design by Dante Ferretti, set decoration by Francesca Lo Schiavo

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Robert Richardson, Hugo

Richardson won his third Oscar for this film, but I still think Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life) was robbed. When will the Academy finally recognize his genius?

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Mark Bridges, The Artist

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Undefeated

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Saving Face

BEST FILM EDITING
Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

With their wins, Baxter and Wall are the first editors since Ralph Dawson (1935/1936) to win consecutive Oscars in this category. Given this category's reputation as Best Picture Minor, the win here further convinces me that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would have been the 10th nominee in Best Picture this year.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
A Separation, Iran

I'm actually very surprised that this won, given 1) that frontrunners rarely actually prevail in this category and 2) the political drama going on with Iran right now. Unfortunately, though he accepted the prize, the Oscar won't actually be going to writer/director Asghar Fahardi, but to Iran, a government that imprisons and censors its filmmakers. I'm sure it's a great movie, but I'm against this win in principle.

BEST MAKEUP
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, The Iron Lady

I just want to call attention to the fact that The Iron Lady went two-for-two Sunday night.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Ludovic Bource, The Artist

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Man or Muppet," music and lyric by Bret McKenzie; The Muppets

When a professor mentioned this one in a class Monday morning, McKenzie's affiliation with Flight of the Concords drew a surprising amount of cheers. The beloved cult show lives on.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
The Shore

BEST SOUND EDITING
Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty, Hugo

BEST SOUND MIXING
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley, Hugo

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning, Hugo

I'm sorry, but this one belonged to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Those apes were so perfect looking! And as a final note, the Harry Potter series came to a close with a total of 12 nominations and 0 wins across six of the eight films (Order of the Phoenix and Chamber of Secrets got zilch).

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