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Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscar Recap 2011

        As all those not living in caves are already aware, the 84th Academy Awards were last night, and they were... fine. No introduction can avoid this fact, no flowery wording could disguise it: 2012’s Oscar ceremony was mostly engaging, but completely forgettable. That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to jot down a few quick notes about the show, just to make sure it doesn’t fade out of our collective memory over-night. Here are some pros and cons of last night’s show.
Waste not, want not:
        Last night had to be one of the most tightly times annual events that I personally have witnessed. Awards flew off of shelves at a rate of two or three per commercial break, and, more importantly, former time hogs like Best Original Song performances, and tributes to each of the Best Picture nominees, were omitted completely. This need for speed did occasionally belittle the grandiosity of the evening, but it held the viewer’s constant attention far better than your average Oscar.

Christopher Plummer finally nabs him:
        One of the most iconic side-performers of the last many years, Christopher Plummer finally took home his very first Oscar last night for his lovely work in Beginners. Now the oldest thespian to ever win an acting Oscar, Plummer joked that, at 82, he was just a couple years younger than the Golden Man himself. The rest of his speech was equally good-natured and heart-warming, and it was great to see the savvy vet finally take one down.

A Big Night for the History of Cinema:
        It was a big night for movies about movies last night, as both The Artist and Hugo, two of the very finest flicks invited to the ceremony, absolutely cleaned up. The Artist was the predictable big winner, taking home Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (among others), while Hugo won just about every technical award in sight. The two snatched up just short of half the night’s prizes between them, and I for one can rest easily with their success.
Poor, poor Tree of Life:
        I was pretty ecstatic when my Number One movie of 2011, The Tree of Life, managed last second surprise nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. Those two prizes always belonged to The Artist, but losing Best Cinematography? That was just rough. If any film had to beat it, I’m glad that it was Hugo, but even that movie’s visual wonderments just don’t hold a candle to the immesurable beauty of Tree. This of course all goes without noting that the man behind the camera, Emmanuel Lubeski, was similarly wronged the last time that he was invited to the dance, for his jaw-dropping work on Children of Men. His next flick, the Alfonso Cuaron-directed Gravity, is supposed to be positively flooring. Let’s hope the Academy finally gives this poor guy his due.

The Blah of it all:
        Trust me, I’d take Billy Crystal over Anne Hathaway and James Franco any day of the week, but he sure didn’t rock the boat too hard, did he? He told some good jokes, introduced things with class, smiled, and then told us to drive home safely. This would have been better had the ceremony itself managed to provide more surprises, but almost everything fell into place as anticipated. The biggest shocker of the night had to be when The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won Best Editing, and when that section holds your biggest shocker, you’re probably playing it pretty close to the chest.

25 Years of Trying, and that’s all it took?
        I found 2011 to be a banner year for lead female performances, and yet none of last night’s five nominees did much of anything for me. So when the favored, zero-time winner Viola Davis had her seat usurped by Meryl Streep’s third win, I didn’t take offense at who had just lost, but rather who had won. Streep is great in The Iron Lady, but the movie that contained her is another story completely. Painfully sloppy, structurally inept, and politically cowardly, it’s the kind of movie that Oscar ought to just ignore all together, even if a single performer takes over. A shipwreck is still a shipwreck, and after all of the great Streep performances over the years that Oscar decided to pass up, its a bit disheartening to see this be the movie that breaks her dry spell.
How did I do?
        Pretty dang well, thank you very much! Of the 24 winners that I predicted in my last article, 18 emerged victoriously, my blunders coming in the fields of Best Actress, Best Documentary, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, and Best Visual Effects. That's good for 75% for the whole show, and 7/8 in the major categories. And while I'm bragging, I'd better point out calling all three short categories correctly! Yes, even if last night was something of a bore, it sure stoked my ego.

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