The 82nd Academy Awards promised to be a change from years past with a production team that included Hairspray director and So You Think You Can Dance judge Adam Shankman and a pool of ten Best Picture nominees, a significant increase from the typical five. However, change isn’t always positive, as demonstrated by tonight’s 3 1/2 hour-long telecast that featured awkward commentary, a gratuitous horror movie salute that unnecessarily included New Moon (Though if I were forced to watch it, I’d be scared too), lots of ass-kissing of Best Actor and Actress nominees, and did Kanye West take over a redhead’s body?
The night started off with the Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role nominees taking the stage as the announcer read off their names. Neil Patrick Harris (As fantastic as he is) then performed in a less-than-stellar musical number to introduce the emcees for the night, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. The two men took turns taking hits at various nominees and members of the audience, which gave me more second-hand embarrassment than laughs for the most part (But my personal favorite piece of dialogue from those 20-30 minutes was “It’s Dam Helen Mirren,” “It’s DAME Helen Mirren”). The first award of the telecast was then presented by Penelope Cruz, who gave the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role to Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, a prediction by experts and fans alike come true. It set the tone for most of the evening as many of the projected winners became actual winners.
The introduction for the Best Animated Feature Film nominees followed and was one genuinely nice thing about the evening. As if they were made of human flesh, characters from all of the nominated films spoke as they sat in directors’ chairs – With all the innovations in films these days, why not have them host or present?
Tributes and montages were a big part of the evening. Last year’s telecast included salutes to genre films of the year, but that was absent this year. Instead, viewers saw blood, guts, screams, and bad makeup galore in a horror film montage that encompassed all of Hollywood history. However, unexpectedly, one of Martin and Baldwin’s funnier moments preceded the montage in a parody of Paranormal Activity, as the two men were filmed sleeping in the same bed, constantly tossing and turning in humorous and awkward positions. This year’s In Memoriam tribute was led by James Taylor singing “In My Life” by the Beatles, but how could they not include Farrah Fawcett and Bea Arthur? Awful. A much more respectable and beautifully-done tribute was led by Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick, who memorialized late iconic director, producer, and writer John Hughes. The two actors, who rose to fame in two of Hughes’ films Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, respectively, paid their tributes before cutting to a montage of Mr. Hughes’ work. Jon Cryer, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Macaulay Culkin, all of who also found fame in Hughes’ work, then joined Ringwald and Broderick on stage to say a few more words as Hughes’ family emotionally looked on. A wonderful and touching tribute to a great man and one of Hollywood’s best players.
In lieu of musical performances, a giant dance number combining hip-hop and contemporary styles was set to selections from the Best Original Score nominees. The idea was a well thought-out one but when it aired past the halfway point of the show when it had already gone downhill, it was a performance that did not redeem.
In a move similar to last year’s production, but altered, this year’s Best Leading Actor and Actress nominees were shoved in the spotlight (As if they weren’t already with that strange show opening) by former and present colleagues before the award presentations. Some speeches lasted too long, some speeches felt meaningless, and a few did actually make us go “Awwww” (“Ted” Robbins and Morgan Freeman have a bad bromance going on, methinks). And Vera Farmiga’s tribute to George Clooney was the only thing that could make him crack even a small smile for the entire night.
Who was that guy who held the sign for “Text DOLPHIN to [number here]” during the acceptance speech for The Cove‘s win for Best Documentary Feature and did the production team cut off their speech just because the action seemed like a plug for promo? More importantly, who was that redhead who appeared to “Kanye” the acceptance speech of Roger Ross Williams for Best Documentary Short? Pictures list her as the producer of the winning film Music by Prudence, Elinor Burkett, yet her entrance was awkward and her interruption of Williams was very rude.
Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) appeared high on something, and Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) gave one of the most gracious speeches of the night as she accepted her award for Best Leading Actress, acknowledging all of her fellow nominees and even calling Meryl Streep “her lover” and “a good kisser” (Am I missing a reference here?). As the show went overtime for about half-an-hour, Tom Hanks very quickly presented (As in simply said the name of the winner, no fuss) the big prize of the night for Best Picture to The Hurt Locker. Director Kathryn Bigelow, who just minutes ago collected the Best Director award for the film as the first female ever (82 years!) to win the award, appeared even more overwhelmed as she went back onstage to clutch her second Oscar with her ecstatic cast and crew. Again, many thought Bigelow and her film would win both awards, though many Oscar viewers and a few experts believed the epic, technologically groundbreaking, and money-making monster Avatar and James Cameron had just as much of a chance. Don’t fret, fans – I hear Titanic is still the golden child of the Oscars!
My personal favorite moments of the night consisted of seeing my favorite celebrities as presenters: Ryan Reynolds speaking of his The Proposal co-star Bullock’s Best Picture nominee The Blind Side, Chris Pine and his Captain Kirk hair, Rachel McAdams looking ravishing and stunning with fellow beautiful person Jake Gyllenhaal, Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. being awesomely funny, and Bradley Cooper’s entire presence.
Of special note, Star Trek won the Best Makeup award. In a year of ten Best Picture nominees, it still makes me sad that it didn’t sneak a nod in that category, but seeing Zachary Quinto getting his Spock ears on in the nominee clip and of course, the win for the makeup team’s extraordinary work on the film makes me happy.
Also, can we talk about presenter Ben Stiller’s performance as a Na’vi and how it could’ve really added to Avatar? I hope the Oscar makeup team got paid a LOT to turn him into a blue person because it looked too real…and frightening. And hilarious.
This year’s Oscars had some personally satisfying elements and heartfelt and funny moments, but maybe if they scrapped half of the Best Picture nominees (Let’s get real now – only about three of them had a chance in the first place), we could’ve been spared from many unnecessary and time-consuming BP tributes and could’ve seen more salutes to the year in film as a whole. Remember this Pineapple Express tie-in from last year? A similar segment tying in The Hangover might’ve been great for this year to salute the comedies of 2009.
Instead, New Moon is suddenly a horror movie.
THE COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS:
- Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds
- Animated Feature Film: Up by Pete Doctor
- Original Song: “The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett from Crazy Heart
- Original Screenplay: Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker
- Short Film: Nicolas Schmerkin for Logorama
- Documentary Short: Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett for Music By Prudence
- Short Film (Live Action): The New Tenants by Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson
- Makeup: Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow for Star Trek.
- Adapted Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious
- Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg (Art Direction); Kim Sinclair (Set Decoration) for Avatar
- Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo’nique for Precious
- Costume Design: Sandy Powell for Young Victoria
- Sound Editing: Paul N.J. Ottosson for The Hurt Locker
- Sound Mixing: Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett for The Hurt Locker
- Cinematography: Mauro Fiore for Avatar
- Music (Original Score): Michael Giacchino for Up
- Visual Effects: Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones for Avatar.
- Documentary Feature: Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens for The Cove
- Film Editing: Bob Murawski and Chris Innis for The Hurt Locker
- Foreign Language Film: The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos) – Argentina – Directed by Juan José Campanella
- Actor in a Lead Role: Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
- Actress in a Lead Role: Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
- Directing: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
- Picture: The Hurt Locker
source: MJ’s Big Blog