Well, there were some surprises last night and some wins you could have bet a life savings on. Am I pleased with the way the way the awards were delegated? Yes, very much so. Hosted by Billy Crystal, the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony was Hollywood coming out in their Sunday best to honor the performances, films and technical achievements of the year based on the votes of nearly 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here’s the recap:
Best Picture – THE ARTIST – The night was down to one of two films: this one, and Scorsese’s Hugo. Both are excellent pieces of filmmaking and both pay homage to early cinema itself. In the end, it was the charm of The Artist that won over the Academy and took home the night’s grand prize.
Best Director - MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS for THE ARTIST – It’s almost common place for the Best Picture winner to also land Best Director. Furthermore, Hazanavicius won the DGA award which all but six times has predicted who won the Best Director award at the Oscars. No surprise here whatsoever, and I’m happy he won. I would have been equally delighted to see Marty win a second directing Oscar, but as long as it stayed between the two, I’m good with it, and it did.
Best Actor - JEAN DUJARDIN for THE ARTIST – An amazing turn and win by a formerly nearly unknown French actor. Always good to see the Academy honor someone outside of the “inner circle.” With his heavy accent and this being his first international success, this could be Dujardin’s only shot at Oscar glory, and I think he deserved it for his awesome pantomimed performance.
Best Actress - MERYL STREEP for THE IRON LADY – I have to admit, this was a big surprise for me. I was pretty pegged on Viola Davis walking away with this award, but Streep came in and got it. Her 17th nomination and third win (first in 30 years), it further solidifies this amazing actresses’ spot in the parthenon of acting. Likely the best living actress, and possibly the best the screen has ever seen, I’m happy in retrospect that she took home the award.
Best Supporting Actor - CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER for BEGINNERS – Not surprised at all here. A satisfying turn from a veteran actor, the Oscars love this kind of stuff. At 82, this win makes Plummer the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar in competition. Humble and gracious, I think his speech was the best of the night and I’m happy to see him win.
Best Supporting Actress - OCTAVIA SPENCER for THE HELP – Another no brainer and a deserved win for a great supporting performance. Her genuine reaction to the announcement was enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Best Original Screenplay - WOODY ALLEN for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – I was ecstatic about this win! I love Woody Allen and have probably said it before, and will probably say it again, but he is one of my favorite filmmakers ever. Yes, EVER. I adore his films and seeing him take home another Oscar for a brilliant movie like this one was icing on the cake. His fourth Oscar and first in 23 years, as usual Woody was at home back in New York and not at the ceremony, but boy did it still feel good to hear his name called.
Best Adapted Screenplay - ALEXANDER PAYNE, NAT FAXON and JIM RASH for THE DESCENDANTS – Really the only honor for this film that showed as a strong contender early in awards season. Good to see it get its due in this award.
Best Animated Feature - RANGO – Interesting that Gore Verbinski wins his first Oscar for his first animated film after years of directing live action. Maybe its a good fit for him!
Best Foreign Language Film - A SEPARATION – Has been winning a lot of awards this awards seasons and hailed by critics. Not a surprise here at all and one of my most anticipated films to see that I haven’t already seen.
Best Cinematography - ROBERT RICHARDSON for HUGO – What a surprise this was! I was sure Lubezki had it pegged for Tree of Life with his wins elsewhere and, mostly, the ASC award he won a few weeks ago. However, Richardson’s beautiful imagery on Hugo was definitely equally as deserving. To me, this was one of the stiffest years in many for cinematography. All great DPs, with amazing visions. This was Richardson’s third win and Lubezki has yet to win, that was why I put my money on Lubezki. However, I will be honest, Richardson’s style has always been a strong influence for me, so I am very happy with this surprise.
Best Editing - ANGUS WALL and KIRK BAXSTER for THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – Well, this was as much of a surprise to the audience as it was to the winners. You can tell they weren’t expecting this at all since they had just won last year for The Social Network. Way to go team Fincher!
Best Art Direction - DANTE FERETTI and FRANCESCA LO SCHIAVO for HUGO – At the beginning of the night, Hugo was sweeping the awards and I thought it might upset The Artist for the win. In the end, both films walked away with five awards each, but The Artist took home the big prizes. The art direction in this film is definitely deserving of the win and I’m very happy with how much love it received last night. It and The Artist were my favorite films of last year, so I was happy when each of these won anything.
Best Costume Design - MARK BRIDGES for THE ARTIST – Well deserved and not surprising in my opinion.
Best Makeup - MARK COULIER and ROY HELLEND for THE IRON LADY – Longtime Streep makeup artist and Harry Potter prosthetics artist take home their first Oscars. It’s a nice thing to see.
Best Original Score - LUDOVIC BOURCE for THE ARTIST – Strong competition in this field this year with two Williams scores and fantastic scores from all involved. Bource deserved this award though in my opinion as the music was a driving force in The Artist since there was a lack of voice, and what wonderful music it was.
Best Original Song - BRETT MCKENZIE for MAN OR MUPPET – I was totally unaware before the ceremony that this was Brett from Flight of the Conchords before seeing the program. I guess I didn’t look at the name close enough, but boy was I excited when it hit me! This is awesome! The Ryhmenoceros has an Oscar – how cool is that!
Best Sound Editing - PHILLIP STOCKTON and EUGENE GEARTY for HUGO – Well done.
Best Sound Mixing - TOM FLEISCHMAN and JOHN MIDGLEY for HUGO – Another win for Hugo!
Best Visual Effects - HUGO – ditto!
Best Documentary Features - UNDEFEATED – Haven’t heard much about the docs up for the award this year, but after seeing the win, am definitely interested in seeing this film. However, I strongly feel that Senna should have been among this lot because it was a brilliantly composed documentary. I’ll still stick with it as my favorite doc of the year so far, but will give this one and others a chance.
Best Documentary Short Subject - SAVING FACE – Seems like a nice film to win and always a pleasure seeing the winners of the shorts. These are people who have to struggle for their budgets and are not millionaires. These awards wins always feel very genuine to me.
Best Short Film, Animated - THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE – Again, very genuine win.
Best Short, Live Action - ditto.
Well, that wraps it up for the competitive awards. Of course, there were the technical awards and honorary Oscars presented previously which included an honorary award for legendary makeup artist Dick Smith and actor James Earl Jones. The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award went to a deserving Oprah Winfrey. All in all, I really enjoyed the broadcast and couldn’t be happier with the results. Until next year, that’s it for awards season in the movies!