Monday, February 27, 2012

84th Annual Academy Awards Recap

Last night's Oscar telecast went (pretty much) as expected. "The Artist" walked away with the top awards, but not before "Hugo" picked up a slew of awards earlier in the evening. Both films act as a reverie to the golden age of Hollywood, so it was fitting they went home with five awards each considering the theme of this year's ceremony.

The entire telecast revolved around feelings of appreciation and nostalgia for the art of filmmaking with interludes of actors revealing favorite movie moments of their past. The stage was even set up to replicate an old fashioned movie theater. So, it was as if the show was purposely modeled after the films the producers knew would take the most awards -- and with the show's renewed sense for a love of cinema, it felt fitting.

Not to mention the return of veteran host Billy Crystal who, while definitely nothing too exciting to tweet about with no real jokes to remember, he was congenial enough and kept the night moving along. He opened with a medley introducing the nine Best Picture nominees, and while it was rushed and awkward it worked fine. Not only as a moderate distraction but as a reminder to the Academy to just cut it back down to the usual five nominees already. Besides, his old shtick fit right in with the evening's theme of film throwback. Hey look, it's the Oscar host from the early 90s!

"The Artist" took home the awards for Best Picture, Director for Michel Hazanavicius, Score, Costume Design and Best Actor for Jean Dujardin who during his acceptance speech proclaimed, "I love your country!" and then ended it with an explosion of French. He was the first ever Frenchman to win in the category, and "The Artist" winning marked the first time a black and white silent movie has taken the top prize since 1928.

"Hugo" garnered awards early in the night nabbing plenty of technical awards including both Sound Editing and Mixing along with Art Direction as expected, but then it surprised by taking Cinematography out from under "The Tree of Life" leaving Malick's prestigious film with nothing. It then swooped in and snagged Best Visual Effects from the frontrunner of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

The biggest technical surprise, however, went to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" winning Best Editing over the likes of both "Hugo" and "The Artist." My question: if "Dragon Tattoo" was good enough to not only get nominated for Editing but win in that category, then why wasn't it good enough to at least get nominated for Best Picture? I mean, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" got nominated, and the majority of the evening was spent trying not to remind the audience that it did.

The supporting acting awards went without a hitch. Christopher Plummer, 82, became the oldest actor to ever receive an Oscar getting his predicted Best Supporting Actor award for "Beginners." He received a well-deserved standing ovation along with Best Supporting Actress winner Octavia Spencer for "The Help." They both had the most heart-warming speeches of the night, especially Spencer who burst into tears.

The third standing ovation went to Meryl Streep. Yes, for her Best Actress win for "The Iron Lady" over frontrunner Viola Davis for "The Help." They thankfully didn't cut to Davis who most likely was wearing a crushed expression upon her loss. I was rather irate at Streep's win realizing to myself I had forgotten the rule of the biopic; that is, if a renowned actor/actress plays a real life person, they most likely win.

My anger subsided, however, when Streep provided us an instance of comedic brilliance. Upon reaching the mic (which had annoying digital feedback for most of the night), she joked how half of America was probably grumbling to themselves thinking, "Aw c'mon, her again?!" She then paused briefly and concluded with a non-chalant, "But whatever!" It was a perfect moment that made up for poor Davis' snub.

Critics are already calling last night's telecast a dud. Let me be the one to remind everyone that this is an award show. It's hard to pump it with pizzazz, especially considering they scrapped all shreds of musical performances. Save, however, for the Cirque du Soleil performance which turned out to be quite thrilling and extravagant. And, for me at least, the night was full of memorable moments.

Can we talk for a second about, say, Angelina's right leg? Not ten minutes after Angelina Jolie was on stage to present the award for whatever she was presenting an award for (sorry, I was distracted by her right leg the whole time), a Twitter page was created in honor of her protruding ligament.

The ladies of "Bridesmaids" were certainly a treat sprucing up the presentation for the short films which are otherwise dreaded categories to sit through. Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph managed to sneak in penis jokes while Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne created a Martin Scorsese drinking game right on stage.

When Emma Stone presented next to Ben Stiller and when Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell appeared with their silly cymbal crashing, they were all making strong cases as to why they should perhaps host in future years. Producers, take note.

While last night certainly didn't reclaim the spirit of Oscar we've lost over the years, it was at least a step in the right direction reminding audiences why films like "The Artist" and "Hugo" might have been such a big deal. Last year certainly was about reclaiming the magic of going to the movies, and last night's telecast captured that feeling. And before you complain about Billy Crystal, just think back to how the hosting went last year.

As for my predictions, I came out with a rather solid 19/24 categories predicted right. Go me.

Check out the full list of winners from the 84th Annual Academy Awards, and revel in the fact that we don't have to talk about this for at least a few more months!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

84th Annual Academy Award Winner Predictions

Perhaps it's a sign of the times that the Oscar telecast really does need to happen much sooner after the nominations announcement. Between the nominee reveal and Sunday's ceremony, it gives the experts all the time in the world to have the race completely figured out -- and this year is no exception. So, here we have my predictions for this year's Oscar winners containing perhaps no surprises at all.

Best Picture: "The Artist" hands down. No other film is even close for an upset.

Director: Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist." Martin Scorsese could squeak in for "Hugo" or Terrence Malick for "The Tree of Life" as the dark horse, but both are highly unlikely.

Actor: Jean Dujardin for "The Artist." George Clooney had it locked down before but no longer.

Actress: Viola Davis for "The Help" with Meryl Streep still tailing close behind for "The Iron Lady." It could be the one upset of the night.

Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer for "Beginners"

Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer for "The Help"

Animated Feature: "Rango"

Original Screenplay: Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris"

Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for "The Descendants" -- although you might think "Moneyball," it's not true now that it didn't win the WGA.

Sound Editing: "Hugo"

Sound Mixing: "Hugo"

Film Editing: "The Artist"

Documentary Feature: "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"

Foreign Language Film: "A Separation"

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for "The Tree of Life"

Makeup: "The Iron Lady"

Costume Design: "The Artist"

Visual Effects: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Original Song: "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets"

Original Score: Ludovic Bource for "The Artist"

Art Direction: "Hugo"

So there it is. "The Artist" will lead with a total of six wins out of its ten nominations and "Hugo" will come in second with three wins followed by "The Help" celebrating its actresses with two wins. Let's hope returning veteran Oscar host Billy Crystal can spice up the night with us usual comedic flair.

Tune in to watch the telecast of the 84th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. on ABC!