I want to once again thank all of our great readers who joined us at last night’s Oscar Live-Blog for making the evening such a good time. If it weren’t for you, quite frankly, that trainwreck of an awards show wouldn’t have been watchable at all.
I’m not talking about the winners when I say that. As is well known around these parts, I’m a big fan of ‘The Artist’, and am glad to see it take home the top prize. In my opinion, this is one of the few years that the Academy got that precisely right.
No, I’m talking about the ceremony itself, which was an utter clusterfuck from beginning to end. Billy Crystal’s hosting was horrendously unfunny. I’d be generous to call his opening skit merely tedious. Dear lord, he actually dressed up in blackface for part of it! His monologue and “jokes” (note the scare quotes around that word) throughout the evening felt like they would have been stale 40 years ago. He didn’t say a single funny thing the whole night. Not once. Not even close. Honestly, it felt like he hadn’t bothered to prepare any material in advance.
The show couldn’t even get basic technical elements right, such as making sure that the stage microphones didn’t have tinny feedback the whole goddamn night. Whoever was in charge of sound needs to be banned from the industry for life.
This year, the Oscars actually had one Best Original Song nominee (“Man or Muppet” from ‘The Muppets’) that might have been great fun to see performed live. Of course, this had to be the year that the Academy decided to cut the song performances so that it could squeeze in pointless nonsense such as a Cirque du Soliel acrobatic routine and a stupid montage reel about… movies? Just movies. Nothing special about the movies in the montage. No connection between them. Just “Aren’t movies great?” or something. Ugh.
The staging of the telecast was incompetent on every level. People who complained about Anne Hathaway and James Franco last year and expressed relief at being put back in the hands of a seasoned pro like Crystal really had no idea what they were asking for. It was so bad that I actually wish that Brett Ratner hadn’t been fired from producing the ceremony a few months ago. I’m sure that whatever he had planned would have also been terrible, but it would have at least been watchably terrible in a “What the holy hell is going on here?” kind of way. Even that would have been an improvement over this mind-numbing fiasco.
Anyway, let’s talk about the winners. Prizes were divided evenly between ‘The Artist’ and ‘Hugo’, which scored five trophies apiece. As was expected, ‘The Artist’ took home three of the major awards (Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Jean Dujardin), as well as Best Original Score and Best Costumes. That last one was sort of a toss-up, and could have easily gone to ‘Hugo’. In somewhat of a surprise (to me, at least), ‘The Artist’ lost Best Original Screenplay to Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’. I can’t feel too bad about that. I loved that movie too.
Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ claimed a bunch of technical categories, including Best Art Direction, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound mixing. I was mildly surprised to see it beat ‘The Artist’ for Best Cinematography, and quite shocked that it grabbed Best Visual Effects over the expected winner, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’.
The only other notable upset of the evening was Meryl Streep taking home her third Oscar for ‘The Iron Lady’. Although Streep had been an early favorite for the Best Actress award, a backlash against the movie in recent weeks had pushed Viola Davis into position as the predicted winner for her role in ‘The Help’. Instead, makers of ‘The Help’ will have to content themselves with the Best Supporting Actress win for Octavia Spencer.
You can find the full list of winners on the official Oscars web site.