So here we are, another Academy Awards. Despite the gallant effort by Billy Crystal, his ninth time hosting, Oscars 2012 was lackluster and bland. Memorable moments were few. There was the usual glamour and glitter on the red carpet, but inside the ‘Chapter 11 Theatre”, renamed by Crystal, it was a night of mere form devoid of spirit.
With all the talents and resources they put into the production, you’d expect better executions and funnier, more brilliant presentations… The beginning mashup intro of the nominated films went well, starring Billy Chrystal in every one, but I was at a loss to see later a montage made up of clichéd, past movie moments, or that not funny Wizard of Oz focus group clip. A sound problem lasted long enough that I had to switch channel to make sure it wasn’t my TV.
Even before the show began, I was a bit disheartened. The reversal of the Academy decision to let Sacha Baron Cohen attend in character as ‘The Dictator’ could only open up opportunities for stunting. Self-promotion and free publicity aside, the shenanigan on the red carpet was definitely uncalled for. I’m referring to ‘The Dictator’ carrying an urn which he said contained Kim Jong-il’s ashes, as he was fulfilling the late ruler’s dream to attend the Oscars. Even up to then was fine. But, what’s the point of dumping the ashes all over Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet? If you’ve missed it, click here to see what actually happened.
From ashes to awards, here are some major winners:
The Artist – 5 wins. Best Picture, Best Actor Jean Dujardin, Best Director Michel Hazanavicius, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design.
Hugo – 5 wins. Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects.
The Iron Lady – 2 wins. Best Actress Meryl Streep, Best Makeup Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland.
The Help – 1 win. Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer.
Midnight In Paris – 1 win. Best Original Screenplay, Woody Allen.
The Descendants – 1 win. Best Adapted Screenplay, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash.
Some highlights and tidbits:
Jean Dujardin in his acceptance speech noted Douglas Fairbanks as the first Oscar host in 1929: “Tickets cost $5 and it lasted 15 minutes. Times have changed.” 1929 was the last year that a silent movie won an Oscar.
1929 was also the year Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow were born, both Best Supporting Actor contenders. Canadian Plummer set the record for the oldest actor to win an Oscar at age 82 for Beginners.
A Separation wins Best Foreign Language Film. Writer/director Asghar Farhadi accepted Iran’s first Oscar. The film is an intense and totally captivating story of domestic conflicts marked by social and religious influences. Farhadi in his acceptance speech movingly distinguished between the people and the politics of his country.
Canadian entertainment troupe Cirque du Soleil added some spectacular performance and much needed energy at an otherwise lacklustre award show.
Colin Firth presenting Best Actress Award to Meryl Streep, his co-star in Mamma Mia! Streep has been nominated 17 times, this is her second Best Actress win since Sophie’s Choice in 1983. She’d also won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Kramer vs. Kramer in 1980. In her acceptance speech, she thanked her husband first, before the music drowned out her words she noted. Apparently moved and thrilled:
“When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going: ‘Aww no. Not her again’. But, you know, whatever.”
Woody Allen wins Best Original Screenplay for Midnight In Paris. I believe it’s an extended version of a short piece he wrote entitled “A Twenties Memory” decades earlier. Will we ever have the chance to hear Woody Allen’s acceptance speech?
The Artist, a silent movie, wins Best Original Score. Music speaks louder than words.
While Hugo is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, his name was not mentioned by any of the winners in their acceptance speeches. Do authors have to become filmmakers before they are noticed?