Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Keith Robinson
“Nothing can take away the emotional sting of the economic crisis like watching millionaires give each-other gold statues.” – Billy Crystal
Last night, live from the “Your Name Here” Theater, the Oscar veteran Billy Crystal returned for the 9th time to host the 84th annual Academy Awards. Opening with a hysterical montage of skits (in classic Crystal style) making light of many of the big films of 2011 including: “The Descendents” where he kisses George Clooney, “The Adventures of Tintin” with Crystal starring as Tintin and “Midnight in Paris” where he adorned black-face as Sammy Davis Jr. From there, the opening skit took an old vaudevillian song and dance turn, with Crystal making very tame jabs at each of the nominees. And then the actual awards part of the show began.
Is enjoyably predictable an oxymoron? Inexplicably, this year’s Academy Awards started with the awards for Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design and achievement in makeup; presumably getting all of the boring categories out of the way first. But after that, the rest of the night was pretty predictable and true to Academy form. You had a few winners that spoke little English giving speeches that not many people could understand, editors accepting awards whilst proving that editors don’t do public speaking, another classic Meryl Streep acceptance speech and Angelina Jolie’s leg (for some reason). Very routine. Yet there were a few moments that made me sit up and take note (literally), including a spectacular Cirque du Soleil performance, which began with flying Cary Grant’s flipping about in mid-air. There was also a notable moment as Chris Rock stepped on stage to present and proved, in only a few seconds, that he is ten times the stand-up comedian (but not the host) that Crystal is. But even though many of Crystal’s jokes were very adult contemporary, David Letterman-esque and delivered with kid gloves compared to the brashness of a Ricky Gervais; MCing a four hour event where 90% of the jokes hit must speaks volumes for how well this night went. And, all things considered, Crystal was undoubtedly a better choice than Academy Award nominee, and star of “Norbit”, Eddie Murphy would have been.
Side Note: Quickly getting back to the new formatting of the show (a la doing the technical awards first). This aspect really did seem to have worked fairly well, because for a show that normally tests the patience of viewers of all ages, this year’s Academy Awards really had no noticeable lulls. Honestly, the most boring part of the four hours were those weird JC Penny commercials starring Ellen DeGeneres.
The big winners of the night were “The Artist” with five wins, including Best Director, Best Picture and Best Actor Jean Dujardin, and “Hugo” also with five wins including almost every technical award. As predicted, Christopher Plummer won for Best Supporting Actor, or as I like to call it the Lifetime Achievement Award. Octavia Spencer also completed her sweep of awards season by taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “The Help”. But obviously the biggest shocker/non-shocker of the night was Meryl Streep beating out Viola Davis for Best Actress. Maybe the Academy really enjoyed “The Iron Lady” more than the rest of us, or maybe Viola’s refusal to wear a wig on THE BIGGEST NIGHT OF HER LIFE caused an impromptu Academy recount. But whatever the reason, this Streep win was surprisingly the biggest upset of the night. By the way, if you were expecting me to say how it was a shocker that George Clooney was beat out for Best Actor by Jean Dujardin, then you probably haven’t seen “The Descendents” yet.
All in all, this was one of the more fun and entertaining Oscar’s in recent years thanks to some well timed skits and the subtle genius of Billy Crystal’s comedic timing. But more importantly, “Bridesmaids” was thankfully completely SHUT OUT!
Here is a listing of the winners in each category:
Best Picture: “The Artist”
Best Lead Actor: Jean Dujardin
Best Lead Actress: Meryl Streep
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer
Best Animated Feature: “Rango”
Best Cinematography: “Hugo”
Best Costume Design: “The Artist”
Best Directing: Michel Hazanavicius
Best Art Direction: “Hugo”
Best Documentary Feature: “Undefeated”
Best Documentary Short: “Saving Face”
Best Film Editing: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Best Foreign Film: “A Separation”
Best Makeup: “The Iron Lady “
Best Original Score: “The Artist”
Best Original Song: “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
Best Animated Short: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”
Best Live Action Short: “The Shore”
Best Sound Editing: “Hugo”
Best Sound Mixing: “Hugo”
Best Visual Effects: “Hugo”
Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Descendants”
Best Original Screenplay: “Midnight in Paris”