Earlier this week there was some buzz online that the 83rd Academy Awards was going to be a bit of a snoozer. While it wasn’t exactly dreadful, it did lack the pizzazz and magic that normally accompanies the ceremony. Where was the spectacle? Where were the politically charged acceptance speeches? Where were the ultra-corny award presentations? These intrinsic aspects were all absent. This year’s Academy Awards instead opted for something mediocre and straightforward, but at least the time went by quickly.
James Franco: What was going on with this guy all night? Not only was he stiff and uncharismatic, but he sometimes looked nervous, distracted and as if he didn’t want to be there. The only time he showed any signs of life was during the presentation for Best Actor. The job of the host is to keep the audience in a good mood during transitions and keep the show moving along. Without showing any personality he did little more than direct traffic. Hopefully he’ll have a better night at the parties.
Anne Hathaway: Not only did she do a wonderful job, but she looked stunning all night. She was natural, effervescent and dynamic. While her little musical number was contrived, she pulled it off well and got a chance to show off her pipes. The audience seemed to genuinely like her and it’s a shame she didn’t get to host the show alone. There’s always next year.
Kirk Douglas: It’s great to see the guy still kicking and in good spirits. It’s also remarkable that he has such awesome comedic instincts still for a man his age. If he hadn’t suffered a stroke and had to learn to speak again, the time he took on stage would probably have been less cringe-worthy. As it was, he was at times barely intelligible and wore out his welcome once he co-opted Melissa Leo’s acceptance speech. By the end of it, Helen Bonham Carter’s wide-eyed expression while she politely applauded probably mirrored the sentiments of almost everyone watching.
Melissa Leo: F-bombing her way into Oscar history as a groundbreaker. Delayed broadcast allowed ABC to cut the sound, but they weren’t able to blur out Leo’s mouth which were very easy to read. Next year, winners will be carrying cocktails and smoking cigarettes on stage.
David Fincher:The man just didn’t seem happy at all, all night. Maybe no one is ever happy at these things, but everyone else just has the good sense to continually smile politely just in case a camera gets a close-up on them. Fincher will probably be less happy tomorrow morning.
Randy Newman: Probably not the most energetic performance tonight, but he wasn’t exactly playing “I Love L.A.” either. Also, when he won the Oscar the first time he made a few cracks about how many times he’s been nominated, which was cute and funny. Bringing it up again for this win just makes him seem bitter. Nevertheless, his speech was one of the more entertaining ones since it eschewed the super long list of names and opted for something rambling and meandering, but made for “good television.”
Aaron Sorkin: Writers always give the best acceptance speeches.
Christian Bale: Did he forget his wife’s name or did he just pause and leave it out of his acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor for effect? Winning an Oscar is probably an overwhelming experience and carrying around all of the names one has to thank is bound to displace some very necessary memories, so Bale can’t be faulted too harshly here. However, if Bale did forget his wife’s name, he covered the mistake well. The conquistador look isn’t too shabby either.
Billy Crystal: Easily the best part of the show. He reminds everyone that it really does take a quick mind with good comedic timing to carry this three-hour-long show. Surely there must be an actor/comedian who’s familiar enough with the film industry to crack jokes about everyone in the room without being mean spirited. Sorry Ricky Gervais.
The two biggest problems hampering the Oscars are not enough scripted segments and not enough extemporaneous comedy. Even though the rehearsed segments of years past, like interpretive dancing, musical numbers and genre featurettes, eat up time and force shorter speeches, it’s the show within the show that gets people at home to tune in. Sure, people are interested in seeing their favorite actors and directors give speeches, but once the winners start rattling off names, viewers tune out and jump on Facebook or their phone. And without a dynamic host who can comment on what’s happening in real-time, then the show can feel too scripted.
What are your thoughts?
Oscars 2011 Nominees and Winners
BEST PICTURE 127 Hours Black Swan The Fighter Inception The Kids Are All Right WINNER: The King’s Speech The Social Network Toy Story 3 True Grit Winter’s Bone
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network WINNER: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone WINNER: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
David Fincher, The Social Network WINNER: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter
“Coming Home,” Country Strong, Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light,” Tangled, Alan Menken, Glenn Slater
“If I Rise,” 127 Hours, A.R. Rahman, Dido, Rollo Armstrong WINNER: “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3, Randy Newman
BEST EDITING 127 Hours, Jon Harris Black Swan, Andrew Weisblum The Fighter, Pamela Martin The King’s Speech, Tariq Anwar WINNER: The Social Network, Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS Alice in Wonderland, Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi Hereafter, Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell WINNER: Inception, Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb Iron Man 2, Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick
BEST DOCUMENTARY Exit Through the Gift Shop, Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz Gasland, Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic WINNER: Inside Job, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs Restrepo, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger Waste Land, Lucy Walker and Angus Aynley
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT The Confession, Tanel Toom The Crush, Michael Creagh WINNER: God of Love, Luke Matheny Na Wewe, Ivan Goldschmidt Wish 143, Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT Killing in the Name (Nominees TBD) Poster Girl (Nominees (TBD) WINNER: Strangers No More, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon Sun Come Up, Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger The Warriors of Qiugang, Ruby Yang and Thomas Lenno
BEST COSTUME DESIGN WINNER: Alice in Wonderland, Colleen Atwood I Am Love, Antonella Cannarozzi The King’s Speech, Jenny Beaven The Tempest, Sandy Powell True Grit, Mary Zophres
BEST MAKEUP Barney’s Version, Adrien Morot The Way Back, Eduoard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk, Yolanda Toussieng WINNER: The Wolfman, Rick Baker and Dave Elsey
BEST SOUND EDITING WINNER: Inception, Richard King Toy Story 3, Tom Myers and Michael Silvers TRON: Legacy, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague True Grit, Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey Unstoppable, Mark P. Stoeckinger
BEST SOUND MIXING WINNER: Inception, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick The King’s Speech, Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, and John Midgley Salt, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan, and William Sarokin The Social Network, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, and Mark Weingarten True Grit, Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE 127 Hours, A.R. Rahman How to Train Your Dragon, John Powell Inception, Hans Zimmer The King’s Speech, Alexandre Desplat WINNER: The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR WINNER: Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM Hors la Loi (Outside the Law) (Algeria) Incendies (Canada) WINNER: In a Better World (Denmark) Dogtooth (Greece) Biutiful (Mexico)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Another Year, written by Mike Leigh The Fighter, Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson Inception, written by Christopher Nolan The Kids Are All Right, written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg WINNER: The King’s Speech, Screenplay by David Seidler
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 127 Hours, Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy WINNER: The Social Network, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin Toy Story 3, Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich True Grit, written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen Winter’s Bone, adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
BEST ANIMATED FILM How to Train Your Dragon The Illusionist WINNER: Toy Story 3
BEST ANIMATED SHORT Day & Night, Teddy Newton The Gruffalo, Jakob Schuh and Max Lang Let’s Pollute, Geefwee Boedoe WINNER: The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary), Bastien Dubois
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, The Fighter Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech WINNER: Melissa Leo, The Fighter Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Black Swan, Matthew Libatique WINNER: Inception, Wally Pfister The King’s Speech, Danny Cohen The Social Network, Jeff Cronenweth True Grit, Roger Deakins
BEST ART DIRECTION WINNER: Alice in Wonderland, Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara Happy Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1, Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan Inception, Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Doug Mowat The King’s Speech, Eve Stewart, Judy Farr True Grit, Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh