Oscar Winners 2012

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?


For a full list of Oscar Winners 2012, CLICK HERE.


To read my review of The Artist, CLICK HERE.

To read my review of Midnight In Paris, CLICK HERE.

2012 Golden Globes Results

Some of the major winners at the 69th Golden Globes Awards last night.

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama: The Descendants
  • Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical: The Artist
  • Best Actress – Drama: Meryl Streep (Iron Lady)
  • Best Actor – Drama: George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Best Actress – Comedy or Musical: Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
  • Best Actor – Comedy or Musical: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Best Director – Motion Picture: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
  • Best Screenplay – Motion Picture: Woody Allen, Midnight In Paris

I must say I’m not too excited about this year’s Golden Globes to start with. Main reason: how can they totally snub Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life? Not even one single nomination for that epic production! I hope the Academy Awards can correct that negligence.

But I’m glad though for The Artist winning Best Picture, Comedy or Musical. It offers me a unique experience: watching a silent movie made in 2011 in the theatre, a successful, nostalgic attempt paying homage to the golden era of Hollywood. Last night, Uggie got a chance to share the spotlight.

Michelle Williams is impressive as Marilyn Monroe. Just a look at her at the Golden Globes and you’ll know how acting and make-up can create a whole world of difference. The transformation of an understated actor into a legendary personality in a dreamscape is what’s so magical about the cinema.


George Clooney is good in The Descendants, a showcase for his acting talent. You can actually see a tear welling up in his eye then flow slowly down his cheek to the tip of his nose. That scene is so deeply imprinted in my memory.

Haven’t seen Iron Lady yet, but what I remember from last night Meryl Streep winning Best Actress is her presenter, the inimitable, ever poised (even more so this time… marvellous result of some great workout?): Colin Firth.

And last but not least, excited to see Woody Allen once again getting recognized for his talent, albeit not in directing, still a worthy nod, winning Best Screenplay with Midnight In Paris. And I must mention this: not too long ago I read a book entitled Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose by Woody Allen. In it I read a story called “A Twenties Memory”.  O what a discovery! Of course! This piece of writing dating back to 1971 must be the original spark that later materialized into the script for Midnight In Paris, some forty years later. CLICK HERE to read “A Twenties Memory”. This just shows it’s never too late to bring ingenuity to life.


For a full list of nominations and winners, CLICK HERE.


The Artist (2011)

I like to start the year with something bright and cheerful. Glad I found it in The Artist. It’s a colourful and spirited romance comedy, kicking off the new year with style. The Artist is a black and white silent film made in 2011.

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius, it premiered at Cannes and was nominated for the Palme d’Or. The French actor Jean Dujardin won Best Actor at the Festival. The Artist is now gathering momentum for an Oscar Best Picture nom.

I was totally captivated by the film, an homage to the silent era of Hollywood movie-making. In the style and tradition of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, The Artist is a comedy with a heart. It’s not a deep exploration of true love, or what makes an artist, but a light, fun and melodramatic genre piece, gratifying without demanding much.

The story is about a silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), who is the rave of the time. His presence is cheered by live audiences at the cinema and on the streets, greeted by swarms of women screaming and swooning. One of them is Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), an aspiring actress. Miller’s dance steps and perky personality soon open doors for her into Hollywood. She can now get close to George, who in turn is mesmerized by her.

But the torrents of change are callous and indifferent. The year is 1927, the pioneering of talking movies. Sound quickly replaces silence. George soon finds himself swept from the top of the world into oblivion. He’s dumped by his producer Al Zimmer (John Goodman), for George is now a nobody from yesterday. Reduced to poverty, he has to let go of his last supporter, his faithful butler Clifton (James Cromwell).

Now folks, this is 1927… not unlike what we’re seeing today. All trends are ephemeral. And uh… I hate to say this, but it was mentioned by my college son who saw the movie with me, sound ~ 3D of today?

Seeing George Valentin’s plight, Peppy Miller cautiously comes to the rescue. Now a popular Hollywood star, she knows how proud he is of his career as a silent film actor, an artist, a purist who refuses to be lured into what he perceives as the gimmick of sound productions. So ultimately, the story is about change, and how one can still seek to accommodate without compromising.

The Artist is a genre romance comedy, silent style. That’s when acting and outward expressions of thoughts and emotions take over in the absence of dialogues. I was impressed by how effective it is. I remember in a screenwriting course, I was told to leave the dialogues to the last. Since film is a visual medium, the actions should tell the story even without any words spoken.

How true it is. I can see vividly this axiom in action by watching The Artist. Sure there are prompters for us, like the old silent films where short descriptions of words are inserted on occasions, more for comedic effects I feel. But I can follow the story, totally immersed in the circumstance of the characters, their highs, their lows, purely from watching them act without saying a word. That is a wonderful experience.

It’s not totally silent though… there’s music of course, and it’s an important part of the movie, generating the mood and momentum. I was totally engaged through it.

And last but not least, I must mention this. All ye dog lovers, even if you aren’t, this is a film for you. If there’s an Oscar for the Best Dog Actor, Uggie should definitely get the honor.

A new year bang. Let the silence speak for itself. Uggie never has to say a word.

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples