Hilarious Hosts Oversee Mostly Predictable Oscars

“David” won.  The Hurt Locker was the big winner at the 82nd annual Academy Awards as it walked away with 6 golden trophies, the most of any movie this year.  The small-budgeted war film won Best Picture over “Goliath”, James Cameron’s enormously expensive and massively successful Avatar.  The conventional wisdom was right and I was wrong.  As expected, Kathryn Bigelow made history by becoming the first woman to snag Best Director.  It was a good sign when Barbra Streisand walked out to present the award.  A stunned, leggy Bigelow, looking hot as ever, acknowledged her nominees as a group (no one was singled out by name) and dedicated her gong to the military currently serving overseas.  Twice, she called her award “the moment of a lifetime”.  The Hurt Locker also won for its original script (writer Mark Boal dedicated his trophy to the troops, as well), Best Film Editing and both sound categories.
 
Avatar had to settle for Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, all technical achievements.
 
Three other films each won two trophies.  Unsurprisingly, Pixar’s Up won for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score.  Jeff Bridges received a standing ovation for winning Best Actor, another fait de complet.  He plays the lead in Crazy Heart which also won Best Original Song for the track The Weary Kind, sung by Colin Farrell in the movie.  Bridges paid tribute to his deceased parents who passed on their love of showbiz to him and thanked his beautiful wife and daughters for their support over the decades as well a number of his professional colleagues including his castmates.  He also singled out the film’s director and screenwriter, Scott Cooper, who rose delightedly from his seat in the audience when Bridges asked him to stand up.  The 60-year-old actor sounded like a hippie at times when he said “man”.  When Michelle Pfeiffer kissed his ass prior to the award presentation, you could see his eyes water.  I think I’d be moved, too, if a hot babe sang my praises over and over. 
 
Mo’Nique delivered a short, superb, intense speech when she accepted the Best Supporting Actress prize for her highly acclaimed work in Precious.  In one of only two geniune surprises, the film also won for Best Adapted Screenplay beating the heavy favourite Up In The Air.  The only other upset involved the Best Foreign Language Film category.  Presumptive favourite, The White Ribbon, was beat by the Argentinian film, The Secret In Their Eyes.
 
Sandra Bullock was remarkably gracious and mostly funny when she got up on stage to accept the Best Actress gong for her work in The Blind Side.  Acknowledging each of her nominees by name was classy, typical of the longtime star known for her kindness.  (The old National Enquirer TV show once noted that she was the queen of the thank-you note, if my memory is good.)  Austrian actor Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor playing the “Jew hunter” in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.  He described the win and the kiss he gave gorgeous presenter Penelope Cruz as an “uberBingo”.  (The complete list of winners is at the bottom of this entry.)
 
As for co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, they were brilliant.  From their hilarious opening monologue to their parody of Paranormal Activity to the shot of them watching TV in their orange Snuggies to their satirical introductions of presenters, they rarely stepped wrong.  I’ll take them over the hoofing Hugh Jackman any day.
 
Also hilarious was Ben Stiller who always manages to bring his A-game to the Oscars (remember his Joaquin Phoenix spoof in 2009?).  This year, he dressed up like one of the blue Na’vi characters from Avatar as he presented Best Make-Up.  Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. were also funny as they playfully demonstrated the comic tensions between writers and actors regarding scripts before presenting Best Original Screenplay.  George Clooney managed to get laughs for his engaging reaction shots, especially during an opening monologue joke.  Even Robin Williams got off a good testicle quip.
 
There was a lovely tribute to filmmaker John Hughes who died of a sudden heart attack last year.  With his family in attendance (his two sons look uncannily like him), actors like Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald (she looked great) and Matthew Broderick paid homage to the man who gave them some of their most memorable roles.  A clip montage of his film work, sprinkled with some of the former National Lampoon writer’s quick comments, underscored why his absence from movies is so dearly felt.  All in all, a wonderful presentation.  Also cool was the horror movie tribute which showcased almost 100 years worth of scary flicks.
 
One of the best things about this year’s telecast was seeing clips from the Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Language Film nominees.  Normally, we just hear the titles and not experience a single scene with audio.  Also great was the surprise return of the much missed phrase, “And the winner is…” before names were announced.  Only Kate Winslet offered the lame “And the Oscar goes to…” line that we’ve been subjected to for far too long. 
 
As always, though, there are aspects to the show we could do without.  Did we really need that forced, terribly unfunny opening production number with Neil Patrick Harris?  (Thankfully, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin immediately followed and the laughter began.)  What was with James Taylor doing The Beatles’ In My Life during the In Memoriam presentation (whose early moments were hard to see)?  If you’re gonna use that song, play the original instead.  Last year’s invention of having famous actors kiss the asses of the nominees was mercifully scaled down to just the lead acting categories (tough break, supporting nominees).  Although it dragged down the last half hour of the show, which otherwise moved quite briskly, there were funny moments courtesy of Michael Sheen (who sucked up to Helen Mirren), Colin Farrell (who paid tribute to his S.W.A.T. castmate Jeremy Renner) and Tim Robbins (who honoured Morgan Freeman).  Ultimately, though, the incessant brown nosing was just too much.
 
It was also disappointing and more than a little rude to see a couple of winners get played off during their moment in the sun, unlike last year where everybody got all their words out in time.  I know not every speech can be a homerun (many of them were actually quite good this year) but these people worked their entire lives to get a little recognition for one of the high points of their career.  It’s not too much to ask for a bit of patience while they graciously acknowledge those whose support led them to that microphone.
 
All in all, this was a much better ceremony than last year.  Martin and Baldwin should be asked back.  They were consistently terrific.
 
As for my family’s annual Oscar pool (our 19th annual event), I won yet again going 15 for 24, a better record than 2009’s 12 for 24 disappointment.  This is my 11th victory overall and my sixth in a row, a new record.  I won by one.
 
The complete list of winners:
 
BEST PICTURE – THE HURT LOCKER
 
BEST DIRECTOR – Kathryn Bigelow (THE HURT LOCKER)
 
BEST ACTRESS – Sandra Bullock (THE BLIND SIDE)
 
BEST ACTOR – Jeff Bridges (CRAZY HEART)
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Mo’Nique (PRECIOUS)
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Christoph Waltz (INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS)
 
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – UP
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – THE COVE
 
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES
 
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart) (CRAZY HEART)
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Mark Boal (THE HURT LOCKER)
 
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Geoffrey Fletcher (PRECIOUS)
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – Michael Giacchino (UP)
 
BEST FILM EDITING – THE HURT LOCKER
 
BEST SOUND EDITING – THE HURT LOCKER
 
BEST SOUND MIXING – THE HURT LOCKER
 
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – AVATAR
 
BEST ART DIRECTION – AVATAR
 
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – AVATAR
 
BEST MAKE-UP – STAR TREK
 
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – THE YOUNG VICTORIA
 
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – LOGORAMA
 
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – THE NEW TENANTS
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – MUSIC BY PRUDENCE
 
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, March 8, 2010
2:21 a.m.
 
UPDATE:  Salon.com has a wild story about the winners of the Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar here.  I didn’t mention it because I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and couldn’t quite explain why that woman (Elinor Burkett) suddenly got up on stage and interrupted Roger Ross Williams.  I had no idea there was a lot of bad blood there.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, March 8, 2010
1:51 p.m.
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Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 2:22 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Ottawa Senators would win the Stanley Cup (whoops) and that Avatar would win Best Picture (whoops again).  At the risk of looking like a dummy once more, it’s time to do something that’s […]


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