Hugo and The Artist were the big winners at the 84th annual Academy Awards. Both highly regarded features snagged five gongs a piece. While the former cleaned up in the technical categories (Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing & Mixing), three of the latter’s prizes were in major categories.
As expected, The Artist made history by being the second silent film ever to win Best Picture. (Wings was the first back at the inaugural Oscar ceremony in 1929.) Also unsurprising was the announcement of Michel Hazanavicius’ name as the winner for Best Director. Jean Dujardin edged out George Clooney to take Best Actor. During his acceptance speech, Dujardin made reference to the first Academy Awards. The film also won for Best Original Score and Best Costume Design.
The Iron Lady was the only other film to receive multiple gongs, batting 2 for 2 for the evening. Best Actress winner Meryl Streep made her third trip to the podium for playing the title character, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. After hilariously acknowledging the possibility of many viewers being disappointed by her win (somewhat of a surprise over Viola Davis), her first thank you was reserved for her husband. (She felt that saving him for the end would’ve been muffled by the orchestra possibly playing her off the stage.) She also thanked her longtime make-up man J. Roy Helland for making her look good in every picture she’s made since Sophie’s Choice, the film that earned her her previous Best Actress Oscar 28 years ago. (She also won Best Supporting Actress for Kramer Vs. Kramer in 1980.)
Christopher Plummer finally swiped his first Academy Award for his highly acclaimed performance in Beginners. The 82-year-old Best Supporting Actor recepient delivered a classy, gracious speech as he acknowledged his fellow nominees and his wife of more than 40 years for putting up with him. He quipped that she deserved a Nobel Peace Prize.
Octavia Spencer was the only nominee for The Help to hear her name called. The Best Supporting Actress winner weeped as she thanked the Academy for putting her right next to “the hottest guy in the room”, her Oscar. The popular critic’s fave Rango won Best Animated Feature, the predictably absent Woody Allen won his first Oscar in 25 years for penning the original script for Midnight In Paris (his third gong for writing following Hannah & Her Sisters and Annie Hall), his biggest commercial success, and the writing team for The Descendants won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Alexander Payne sweetly and humourously paid tribute to his mom who apparently demanded a dedication if he ever won again. Her son honoured her request.
As for surprises, besides Streep for Best Actress, Undefeated upset Paradise Lost 3 for Best Documentary Feature and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was singled out for its editing. (Scroll down for the complete list of winners.)
As for substitute host Billy Crystal (who replaced original choice Eddie Murphy who quit after the ridiculous firing of original producer Brett Ratner out of loyalty), despite a hit-and-miss Best Picture medley and opening monologue (which followed his typically good trespassing-through-the-BP-nominees pre-tape segment), he got funnier and funnier as the show progressed.
He brilliantly dusted off his trademark “what are they thinking?” bit where he hilariously pretended to read the minds of major talents on camera. But nothing quite topped his introduction for presenter Christian Bale, last year’s Best Supporting Actor winner. After humourously referencing three of his famous roles (at the expense of the current Republican nominees for President), he slyly noted the best Batman’s infamous Terminator Salvation tirade (“Don’t get in his eyeline!”). Genius. Despite a fairly safe menu of jokes, Crystal was dependably on his game for much of the night. He was a definite improvement over last year. It might be time to retire the medley, though.
Other highlights of the show included the amazing Cirque De Soleil and perhaps the classiest In Memoriam segment in the history of the telecast. (Just one round of applause at the end. Finally.) Far less successful was an unnecessary and witless bit involving a fake 1939 focus group (featuring Christopher Guest and a number of his frequent comedic film castmates) complaining about The Wizard Of Oz and the dreaded return of “And the Oscar goes to…”. Well, on the plus side, no one got cut off by the music.
As for the annual Earl Oscar pool, Grandma was the big winner going 12 for 24. It’s her third victory overall. Because she tied myself and my Dad in last year’s contest, she’s on a two-year hot streak. I’m not pleased. (I went an embarrassing 9 for 24 this year. Pitiful.) After winning seven straight contests, my astounding championship run has come to an end. I’ve won 12 of the last 21 pools, though, so I have that record to comfort me, but it’s not enough. Until next year.
The complete list of winners:
BEST PICTURE – THE ARTIST
BEST DIRECTOR – Michel Hazanavicius (THE ARTIST)
BEST ACTRESS – Meryl Streep (THE IRON LADY)
BEST ACTOR – Jean Dujardin (THE ARTIST)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Octavia Spencer (THE HELP)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Christopher Plummer (BEGINNERS)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – RANGO
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – UNDEFEATED
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – A SEPARATION
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Woody Allen (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash (THE DESCENDANTS)
BEST MAKE-UP – THE IRON LADY
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – HUGO
BEST SOUND MIXING – HUGO
BEST SOUND EDITING – HUGO
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – THE ARTIST
BEST ART DIRECTION – HUGO
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – THE ARTIST
BEST FILM EDITING – THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Man Or Muppet (THE MUPPETS)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – HUGO
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – The Shore
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – Saving Face
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 27, 2012
CORRECTION: I goofed regarding Meryl Streep’s husband. He’s the only guy she’s ever been married to, not her second as I dumbly noted. That word – “second” – has been excised from the piece. My apologies for the mistake.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 27, 2012