Monday, February 28, 2011

"And the Oscar goes to...."

In a night of few surprises and my predictions mainly being on the money, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards saw The King’s Speech crowned king. It scooped four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for Colin Firth. In one of the few shocks of the night, Tom Hooper was named Best Director for the film and won for Best Original Screenplay in a relatively conservative and by-the-books evening at the Kodak Theatre.

It’s main rival, The Social Network, which I was favouring out of the two, won three awards including adapted screenplay, film editing and music. Aaron Sorkin, the writer of The Social Network teased his daughter during his acceptance speech, “Roxy Sorkin, your father just won the Academy Award. I'm going to have to insist on some respect from your guinea pig.” Inception went home with 3 Oscars, while The Fighter, Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3 won 2 gongs each.

In other acting categories pregnant Natalie Portman walked away with Best Actress for her role in Black Swan. Melissa Leo and Christian Bale, sporting a distinctive bushy beard were awarded supporting acting awards for their performances in boxing drama, The Fighter.

King Colin Firth who gave a stunning performance as the stammering King George VI said during his acceptance speech, “I'm afraid that I have to warn you that I'm experiencing the stirrings of something in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves.” It was a night of high expectation for Colin and The King’s Speech walking in with 12 nominations. In the end it only won four but as they were the biggies I doubt you’ll hear many complaints.

The success of The King’s Speech prevented Facebook movie The Social Network from scooping any major awards and denied director David Fincher of another potential Oscar after failing to win in 2009 with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This was one of the few occasions I wanted to throw something at someone in pure frustration. In my opinion it was time for David Fincher to be recognized on the Oscar stage after what has been so far a tremendous career and it begs the question “What more does he have to do?” to land himself a golden statuette.

It was also a disappointing night for the Coen Brothers’ True Grit leaving away empty handed after being nominated for ten nominations. Sci-Fi spectacular Inception swept the technical awards as I expected winning visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing. It was nice to see Christopher Nolan receiving plenty of appreciation on stage. Still it was a huge disappointment not to see his name up on the shortlist for direction after the masterpiece he created.

The best documentary feature Academy Award went to Inside Job. The documentary short film prize went to Strangers No More, and the live action short honour to God of Love.

Year in, year out there are always a handful of highs and lows at the Oscars and this year was no different. It’s a shame and a bit of a waste that it was partly down to the forgetful partnering of hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway. The Academy wanted a pairing to increase the demographic and bring in a younger audience. Ironically they may have in fact put them off. They lacked in chemistry, on-screen presence and failed to make an overall impression. They began well in their opening scene performing a spoof in the mind of last year’s host Alec Baldwin with Morgan Freeman narrating in the scenes of the best picture nominees.

When they took centre stage for the first time though, it went downhill with a cringe worthy monologue including Franco’s grandma … yes grandma standing up saying, “I just saw Marky Mark [Wahlberg].” It was a series of “Eh?” moments throughout the night with Hathaway doing the expected and wearing different frocks and even Franco taking a leaf out of Marylin Monroe’s book appearing in drag and quipped, “The weird part is, I just got a text message from Charlie Sheen.”

 What did annoy me however were the movie montages scrapped (although the best picture moment was a personal highlight and will be replayed many a time on youtube) and the fact that in the acting categories the presenting setup was scrapped. Having 5 presenters introducing each actor in previous ceremonies was a joy to watch to really build up the moment for everyone.

Appearances from the likes of acting legend Kirk Douglas presenting the best supporting actress award was a pleasing moment. Not to mention Oscars veteran Billy Crystal the personal highlight of the show. I think I’m not alone when I think why the heck didn’t he stay on and host the rest of the show. Food for thought perhaps Academy for next year hmmm…!

 Other highlights included the heartfelt and touching acceptance speeches especially from Christian Bale even referring to his Terminator rant which I thought was big of him, “I'm not going to drop the F-bomb like she did.” His reference to “she” was Melissa Leo after being the first person in Oscar history to swear, dropping the f-bomb while accepting her award for supporting actress. Just like her OTT speech at the Golden Globes she couldn’t keep her composure nearly resulting in decking Kirk Douglas to the ground, potential Oscar moment there?! Natalie Portman didn’t live up to my expectations and blub away uncontrollably when accepting her deserving Oscar for Black Swan. She, like the others kept her cool, “This is insane, and I truly, sincerely wish that the prize tonight was to get to work with my fellow nominees - I'm so in awe of you.”

Did the Oscars pan out as you'd expected? Do you feel The Social Network was more of a worthy winner? And what of the Franco/Hathaway hosting performance?

Written By Michael Cunneen

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