Oscar 2010 Wrap-Up
82 down, many many more to go. Last night was the 82nd annual Academy Awards. The ceremony (and corresponding telecast) clocked in at just over three and a half hours, ending moments after midnight on Monday morning. There were few surprises, although the last three awards weren’t a lock for anyone heading into the night, but that didn’t mean that the dresses, tuxes, speeches and schmaltz weren’t fun to watch.
Here are the biggies, in case you missed it: Christoph Waltz, Mo’nique, Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock all took home top acting honors and Kathryn Bigleow and The Hurt Locker put the hurt on Avatar, winning the Best Director and Best Picture awards. I’ll discuss these and other winners a little later, but for a full list of winners, visit the Oscar website.
Before all the awards, of course, there was the red carpet. Thespis was in the house, as in the beginning of the two hour pre-show it started to rain. Just Thespis’s way of instilling humility in us all. (Gotta love those mischievous Greek ghosts!) Despite the rain, the stars were out in full force. I took the liberty of jotting down some notes about their sartorial choices:
- Ann Kendrick looked lovely in a blush pink dress, though the bottom of the dress looked a little too bedroom-y for my taste
- Mo’nique was radiant in cobalt blue, though I could have done without the flower in her hair. Nevertheless, I liked the neckline and the ruching in her dress, as it showed off each and every curve in just the right way.
- Zoe Saldana’s dress suffered from multiple personality disorder. The top, which was a champagne color, crystalized column, looked simple and elegant; the skirt began as lavender and deepened into various shades of purple in the form of layers of poofy crinoline. I didn’t really like the skirt of the dress, but I suppose I can understand how it worked for the red carpet - if it had been matched to its bodice, but the bodice and the skirt looked like they were from two completely different dresses and somehow got mixed together. This was a misstep for the former dancer.
- Maggie Gyllenhaal looked really polished and put together. She wore a colorful, fitted column dress that made her look even taller than she is - it was just the right mix of elegance and young woman stylish-ness. Her hubby, Peter Sarsgard, looked dapper in a classic tuxedo.
- Speaking of the Gyllenhaal family, Jake looked perfect in Burberry. A handsome man in a perfectly tailored tux. Perfect.
- Designer Tom Ford (a nominee in the screenwriting category for his debut film A Single Man) looked almost perfect in his own design. He chose to wear both a pocket square and a boutonniere. Either one of these would have worked but together they were too much.
- Elizabeth Banks looked great in a fabulous gun metal Versace gown, with its fitted bodice and fun, layered skirt.
- Rock ‘n‘ roller Lenny Kravitz brought sexy back to the red carpet, looking just right in his tailored tux and his laid back vibe. Mmm, mmm, good!
- Sandra Bullock looked pretty but uncomfortable. Her Marchesa dress just didn’t look very special. She seemed to be going for a more glamourous, old Hollywood look, but the brocaded top and the too-high neckline ended up looking matronly and she didn’t look like she was having any fun.
- Penelope Cruz looked perfect. Definitely my nominee for best dressed. Her deep aubergine dress had an interesting neckline and beautiful architecture to it, combining a fashion forward sensibility with taste and class.
- Rachel McAdams looked like a walking Monet in her colorful flowing gown. This beautiful actress took a chance in the multi-colored gown, and with simple make up and statement earrings pulled it off with elegance to spare.
- Young Miley Cyrus was wearing a great dress, but girl needs to stand up straight! The teeny bopper kept standing with her shoulders hunching forward, making her look like a sullen teenager playing dress-up rather than a young lady looking lovely on the red carpet. Do they teach posture on the ranch?
- Kathryn Bigelow: she looks fantastic (especially for a woman who is almost 60!) and the color was good on her, but the top of the dress didn’t work for me. The neck like with applique was a little matronly, yet the applique itself - which looked like hearts - looked too young. Her glow the entire night (especially after her TWO huge wins) more than made up for her underwhelming dress.
- I hate to say it, but George Clooney didn’t look perfect. He almost had it all going on - I liked the button details - but he needs a hair cut. The longer look is okay, but it looked too long in the back, like he was trying to hold out one more week until getting a trim.
- Charlize Theron, who is known for taking fashion risks on the red carpet, took one here and, in my humble opinion, failed. The, achem, detail at the bust was reminiscent of Madonna’s bra cones circa the Truth or Dare tour. Those cones barely worked for the Queen of Pop then and they definitely didn’t work for the talented Theron now.
- Meryl Streep was looking classy, polished and age appropriate in a simple white dress, with long sleeves, a tastefully draped neckline and sparkly square jeweled earrings.
- Robert Downey, Jr., looked like Robert Downey, Jr. Pulled together but a little quirky, with his out-of-left-field teal bow tie to match his sunglasses. While I adore him, I do wish he would put on real shoes - he wore sneakers to the Oscars. Inappropriate, Junior!
- Last year’s best actress winner Kate Winslet looked good in her two-tone gown. Even the peplum hem on her bodice worked for the talented British import.
- Finally, The Dude looked just right in a classic Gucci tux. (His wife of 33 years looked elegant and stylish herself, wearing a black gown with a portrait neckline and gorgeous turquoise jewelry.)
And now on with the show! Overall, the ceremony lack zip, though there were highlights here and there. It got off to a great start with the ever present Neil Patrick Harris showing up for a song and dance number. He hosted the Tonys and Emmys and now opened up the Oscars, plus he had a 6:30 am call today (Monday - the day after the big show) for his guest appearance on Glee. Is there anything this guy can’t do?
After Neil’s opening pomp and circumstance, funny men Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin continued the good vibe in their ten minutes or so of banter. There should have been more of this sprinkled throughout the night, rather than those ridiculous montages that were thoroughly unnecessary and did nothing but slow down an already lagging ceremony. I’m referring, of course to the extraneous clips and tributes to animated films, horror films, short films and the original score dance-off. If they’d cut those from the broadcast, then perhaps they wouldn’t have run into double overtime. Also, I liked most of the John Hughes tribute - I felt it was appropriate because of Hughes’s impact on film - but the coda when the five or six actors came out after the video was overkill. Also overkill was the way they presented the nominees for leading actor and actress. They played with this last year and it didn’t work for me then. This year, at least the people talking about the nominees were relevant to the nominees. (Remember last year when Shirley MacLaine blathered on about Anne Hathaway and Anne mouthed, “I love you, Shirley”? It just felt so inauthentic because I couldn’t place their relationship. So this year was a slight improvement.) Still, the actors talking about actors was a little awkward (especially since most of them gave no audible clues that their speech was finished and it was time to clap) and definitely dragged on at a moment when the end was in sight.
As for the awards themselves, mostly everything followed the script. Christoph Waltz earned the night’s first win for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Inglourious Basterds, as predicted. I thought his first words here very funny: “Penelope Cruz and an Oscar - that’s like uber bingo!” I’m totally digging this Austrian find. (I can’t wait for Netflix to send me the movie - it’s still a “very long wait.”) Later, “The Weary Kind”, from Crazy Heart, won for best song, just as I had suspected. I would have loved to have seen the song performed on the broadcast (instead of the interpretive dance to the scores) but I’ll take solace in the win.
Next were the screenwriting awards. These were both a little surprising to me. First was the award for Best Original Screenplay, which went to Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker. This wasn’t a shock, but I had guessed that Quentin Tarantino would win for Basterds and if not him, then the Coen brothers for A Serious Man. This wasn’t nearly as surprising, though, as the win for Best Adapted Screenplay, which went to Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious. For me, this was a big surprise. I thought it was pretty much a lock for Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for Up in the Air. They had won other comparable awards and I hadn’t heard too much buzz about anyone else in this category. (Although, the screenwriters for the hilarious In the Loop were nominated here and given the salty language pouring out throughout the film, I would have been up for hearing their acceptance speech!) Without having seen Precious, I can’t genuinely judge the award, but it did come as a surprise.
Soon after the screenwriting awards, Mo’nique won for Best Supporting Actress, as everyone under a rock had expected. She mentioned that she was pleased that her win proved that a performance can win an award, rather than a good campaign. Some industry people had been grumbling that she could lose the award because she didn’t campaign hard enough for it; she skipped a more minor award show to do her job back in Atlanta. I’ll tell ya - I’m glad she did what she did and said what she said. Indeed, a great performance is what should win the award, not a bunch of glad handing and back scratching. Good for you, Mo’nique! And, her speech was thoughtful, gracious and brief. Good for us, Mo’nique! Speaking of nice speeches, Michael Giaccino, who won for Best Original Score for Up was touching when he talked about all the people in his life who told him being creative isn’t a waste of time. What a lovely message to put out there. As Madonna said, express yourself!
Finally, the big four: Leading actor and actress, director and picture. First was best actor. I thought it was kind of fitting that Kate Winslet presented the award, seeing as her win last year came after four or five previous nominations and losses. I couldn’t help thinking about this connection when she announced five time nominee Jeff Bridges as the winner. The Dude gave a touched and touching speech, referencing his influential parents, his industry friends and family who’ve helped him along the way, his Crazy Heart collaborators and finally his wife and three daughters, all while looking simultaneously elated and cool as a cucumber. That’s how The Dude rolls.
Next, Sandra Bullock won. This was a little suspenseful, as some folks thought (and I hoped) Meryl Streep might pull it out. Bullock won and while her speech was nice, something about her just rubs me the wrong way and I’m growing a little tired of her schtick. Thankfully, the night moved on and Babs came out to present the award for Best Director. This was fitting - almost as if the producers knew that Bigelow would win - as Ms. Streisand is an accomplished director herself and a trailblazer for women in the film industry. (She was the first woman to win an Oscar for best song, for “Evergreen”, and in 1983 wrote, produced, directed and starred in Yentl.) So, Bigelow’s win was momentous. She is the first woman to win this honor (and only the fourth to even be nominated) and what’s more is that she did so for the kind of film not typically associated with female directors. You go, girl! Bigelow seemed grateful and graceful, and was eloquent in her speech.
Little did she know that just moments later Tom Hanks would be presenting her with the award for best picture. I have to say, even though I haven’t seen either The Hurt Locker or Avatar, I’m really glad that Avatar lost. As I’ve mentioned before, I think the best picture should be well rounded, having a great script, cast and director. Avatar did not earn the biggest box office in history based on its script or performances. (Remember: it did not receive any nominations for its script or actors.) It is a movie grounded in a director’s vision and an exploration of technology, both of which have a deserved place in cinematic history. But I think the best picture award is a more consummate award, looking at the totality of the film, not just the technical elements. (There are technical awards for that, after all.) So it was a good year for the academy: performances outshone campaigns and David once again rose to beat Goliath. Only 364 days until next time!