Hollywood's Biggest Night
I really enjoy watching the Academy Awards show, the 84th edition of which was held last night and broadcast to an audience of some 40 million viewers. The high-def image is beautiful, the staging is lavish, the music is live, and Jennifer Lopez always looks gorgeous. But the main reason I watch is that movies are the driving force behind home theater, and the Oscars are one of the driving forces behind movies.
Many have complained that this year's nominees were mostly unworthy, but I respectfully disagree. In fact, I thought the field of contenders in most categories was unusually rich, and there were no foregone winners, making the awards more of a real horse race than usual. Yes, Hugo garnered 11 nominations and won five (Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects). I thought it might make a clean sweep, but The Artist surprised me, winning five out of its 10 nominations (Best Picture, Best Leading Actor, Best Director, Best Costume Design, and Best Music).
Apparently, the Academy wanted to honor these movies that both pay homage to the early days of filmmakingwhich might be viewed as somewhat self-servingbut both absolutely deserved the awards they won. I was especially tickled that the Best Picture award went to a silent movie, only the second time in Academy history since Wings won at the first Oscars ceremony in 1929.
I didn't see The Iron Lady, but my wife did, and she says Meryl Streep was stupendous. Apparently, so was Viola Davis in The Help, but my wife thought that Streep was the right choice for Best Leading Actress. And I was glad to see Christopher Plummer win Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginnersa sentimental choice, to be sure, since the 82-year-old veteran actor had never won an Oscar before. And his acceptance speech was by far the best of the night.
Of the nominated animated features, I was glad that Rango won, but I'm still bummed and bewildered that The Adventures of Tintin was not in the running. For Best Documentary Feature, I was rooting for Pina, which floored me, as I blogged about here, but I can understand why Undefeated, a classic American underdog tale, got the nod.
My favorite moment of the show was Esperanza Spalding and the Southern California Children's Choir singing "What a Wonderful World" to accompany the In Memoriam segment, in which tribute was paid to members of the movie community who died last year. Man, I love how she sings!
I was also happy to see Billy Crystal return as host of the show, including the commercials promoting it. His delivery was great as always, and some of the jokes were pretty funny ("Welcome to the Chapter 11 Theater!" and "…here at the Your Name Here Theater," references to the fact that it used to be called the Kodak Theater). But many were only lukewarm.
I liked the opening bit that parodied some of the nominated movies, and the performance by Cirque du Soleil was great. But there was also a lot of not-so-great filler material, making the overall pacing pretty slow. Why couldn't they have cut some of that and performed the two nominees for Best Original Song? (Speaking of which, I was rooting for "Real in Rio" over "Man or Muppet"oh well, you can't win 'em all.)
And so the 84th Academy Awards pass into the history books. Did you watch the show? What did you think of it? How did your favorite movies do this year?