Well, all the excitement from last night’s highly anticipated Oscar ceremony is finally over, and what a bundle of thrills it was. Undoubtedly the biggest and most dramatic night of the Hollywood year, the annual event was just as lively and glittered as usual, just with less campy Hugh Jackman dancing. Some twists, some turns, some downright “what the heck?” moments, but that’s the Academy Awards for you.
In its 83rd year, the parade of movie awards showcased yesterday was hosted in the Kodak Theatre of Hollywood, California, as it has every year since 2002. The red carpet was trod on by all species of animals in the cinematic jungle, strutting their stuff and showing off their fur. Cate Blanchett came dressed as a decorative, pink flower vase, while Penélope Cruz decided to wear a gown that made her look like she was covered in flames. Ryan Seacrest interviewed the celebs on E! Entertainment, while Giuliana Rancic and Kelly Osbourne nit-picked at the arrivals’ fashion sense; this included circling Scarlett Johannson’s jugs to show how see-through her dress was. Classy.
The ceremony itself kicked off with a lovely montage of all the Best Picture nominees set to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ extravagant remix of “In The Hall of the Mountain King” from the score of “The Social Network.” This was then followed by MTV-style spoofs of each movie previously shown, in which the dream elevator from “Inception” was used to hop from one film to the next in Alec Baldwin’s mind. Nice juxtaposition there — adorning them, then mocking them.
Hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway (sadly no Ricky Gervais) then took to the stage and, of course, began to crack jokes, including the “Love and Other Drugs” actress responding to her co-host’s compliments with, “You look very appealing to a younger demographic as well.” Hathaway was all chirpy and bubbly, while Franco looked stoned and bored. This opening consisted simply of them standing and talking, reciting weak gags and pointing out family members in the audience. Where the heck’s Hugh Jackman when you need him?
We were then presented with a look back at the Oscar-winning 1939 masterpiece “Gone with the Wind,” images from which filled the gigantic screen at the back of the grand stage as its luxurious orchestral score played overhead. In a horrifying turn of events, this was followed by an award being given to Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” This was for Art Direction, presented by Tom Hanks, who redeemed this blemish of indecency by announcing “Inception” as the deserving recipient of the Cinematography gong.
The first “big” award was introduced by a slightly dead and hysterically time-consuming 94-year-old Kirk Douglas, the Best Supporting Actress award going to Melissa Leo for her performance in “The Fighter.” Leo, out of sheer passion, livened things up a bit by letting the F-bomb slip in her heartfelt speech, as well as the word “dick,” though that may have been a reference to a man named Richard.
The screenplay awards, both announced by Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin, were handed to the two front-runners of this year’s award season: “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.” The former’s David Seidler took for Original Screenplay, while the latter’s Aaron Sorkin took for Adapted Screenplay.
This was followed by Miss Hathaway, clad in a tuxedo and bowtie, singing a big musical number about 2009′s host Hugh Jackman bailing on her for this performance. Franco followed suit, walking onto the stage dressed as a rather intoxicated-looking Marilyn Monroe. Happy birthday, Mr. Oscar President.
A clean-shaven Russell Brand and French-speaking Helen Mirren approached the podium to present Best Foreign Language Film (because they’re foreigners, you see), which was awarded to Susanne Bier’s Danish drama “In a Better World.” Christian Bale ran up next, taking Best Supporting Actor for his scene-stealing in “The Fighter.” Having binned the holy Jesus look he fashioned at last month’s Golden Globes, he was sporting a full-on homeless beard of awesome bushiness last night; Joaquin Phoenix should be proud.
Three accolades in the category of sound were subsequently handed out, with Best Original Score going to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for “The Social Network,” and Sound Mixing and Sound Editing passed on to “Inception.” If I’m honest, I’m baffled as to what the difference between those last two awards is.
Scattered throughout the show were live performances of the four tracks nominated for Best Original Song, twinned together in two separated sets. The first set (from “Toy Story 3″ and “Tangled”) was introduced by Kevin Spacey, and the second set (from “127 Hours” and “Country Strong”) was introduced by Jennifer Hudson, who announced the winner as Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” from the Pixar family favourite, which earlier received Best Animated Feature.
After Best Documentary went to “Inside Job,” there was an unexpected appearance by the late Bob Hope via a hologram, this introduced by the hilarious Billy Crystal. Hope, who hosted the ceremony 18 times before his unfortunate death in 2003, had his voice altered to appear as if he was introducing Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law for their presentations of Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing. This sequence was pretty darn creepy.
Another unexpected moment came in the form of the Best Director category, with Tom Hooper taking home the gong for his work on “The King’s Speech.” It seemed most were anticipating either David Fincher (“The Social Network”) or Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”) to be a recipient here, but the first-time-nominated British filmmaker was a very honourable winner.
There were no jack-in-the-boxes springing up in the Leading Actor/Actress sections — we already knew the acting champions before the show even began. All nominees were gone through thoroughly, the actresses by Jeff Bridges, the actors rather more cheekily by Sandra Bullock. Natalie Portman was first up for her breathtaking performance in “Black Swan,” giving a broken-voiced, name-packed speech as she fought back tears.
And then there was, of course, Colin Firth up for his performance in “The King’s Speech,” and anyone with a half-working brain cell could predict his inevitable recognition. “I’m afraid my career’s just peaked,” Firth said once first approaching the podium, which I assume we all hope is not true.
Following this, all eyes were staring at telly screens in tense anticipation, fingers grasping at armrests as Steven Spielberg opened up the envelope containing the name of the winner of the Best Picture Oscar. Would it be the Facebook movie, would it be the British stammering film, or would it be another of the ten features nominated? And, as about 50% of the public would have predicted, it was the UK’s night to gloriously reign at the Academy Awards last night; “The King’s Speech” was crowned the winner.
So, as dedicated David Fincher fans sobbed their scrunched-up little eyes out, the cast and crew of the winning period drama took to the stage and accepted the angelic award, the film taking its place in Oscar history. The night concluded with a corny but sweet sing-song of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by the PS22 Chorus, a choir consisting of fifth-graders. Behind them, the winners of the night held their awards high in the air as Franco and Hathaway said goodnight.
Last night was certainly not the best stint the Oscars have had, but it was undoubtedly fun, no? While Franco was a bit stiff (probably tweeting a bit too much), Hathaway’s joyful exuberance kept the show on the right track. There were memorable moments (some planned, some not-so-planned), there were laughs, and there were surprises, mainly good ones. Still, I miss my all-singing, all-dancing Australian Wolverine.
Here’s a full list of all winners in order of presentation.
Best Art Direction
“Alice in Wonderland”
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Melissa Leo — “The Fighter”
Best Animated Short Film
“The Lost Thing”
Best Animated Feature Film
“Toy Story 3″
Best Adapted Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin — “The Social Network”
Best Original Screenplay
David Seidler — “The King’s Speech”
Best Foreign Language Film
“In a Better World”
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale — “The Fighter”
Best Original Score
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross — “The Social Network”
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing
Best Costume Design
“Alice in Wonderland”
Best Documentary Short
“Strangers No More”
Best Live Action Short Film
“God of Love”
Best Visual Effects
Best Film Editing
“The Social Network”
Best Original Song
“We Belong Together” — Randy Newman, “Toy Story 3″
Tom Hooper — “The King’s Speech”
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Natalie Portman — “Black Swan”
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Colin Firth — “The King’s Speech”
“The King’s Speech”
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