Oscar Wrap Up

With the 2011 Oscars come and gone, we have yet another award show season behind us. Unlike any other year, this year I've seen all ten Best Picture nominees and a majority of the acting, directing and screenwriting nominees. (The count: All directors; all screenplay nominees except Original Screenplay nominee Mike Leigh's Anther Year; all supporting acting nominees except Best Supporting Actress nominee Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom; all Best Actor nominees except Javier Bardem in Biutiful; and all Best Actress nominees except Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole. Not a bad record, huh?) This is all to say that, like the 2010 Tony Awards, I have a justified opinion of the winners and nominees, which I happily express below in the list of winners.

Of course, we'll wait to get to the winners after we discuss the more important part: the fashion!

A big trend this year seemed to be sparkles. And lots of them. Perhaps best exemplified by the lovely ladies above, Michelle Williams, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, many women rocked this trend, looking glamorous and festive. Williams appeared in a very classic looking Chanel dress. This short sleeved slinky number fit her perfectly and she looked quite old-Hollywood. Leo wore a Marc Bouwer cream and gold gown, with a sexy but tasteful deep V-neck and a daring slit up the front. These sexier attractions were balanced out by a high neck and cap sleeves, creating a nice balance of still-got-it sexy and age appropriateness. Adams sparkled in Lorenz Scott. Her saturated, midnight blue gown fit like a glove, showing off her great figure. The only thing I couldn't figure out, though, was why she was wearing that Cartier drop necklace. The gown had a high neck and plenty of sparkle. This necklace just seemed like too much. Sans necklace, she would be a best-dressed nominee.

Another trend on the red carpet was happy couples! Looking at the couples above, (in descending age order) Annette Bening and Warren Beatty; Susan Downey and Robert Downey, Jr.; and Armie Hammer and Elizabeth Chambers, it seems the secret to looking good on the red carpet, aside from slick threads, is smiling and laughing with someone you love. Let's all try that the next time we're posing for a picture!

Then we had two lovely ladies in lavender. One took a risk and didn't quite make it work; the other took a risk and worked it! Above, Mila Kunis is wearing an ethereal Elie Saab. (You may remember that Saab was put on the map after dressing Halle Berry when she won her Oscar.) The dress almost works, except the lace inlay at her bust make it look, at least on camera and from a distance, like she's having some sort of wardrobe malfunction. Too bad, because otherwise she looks good - and has all award season. On the other hand, Cate Blanchett, who's been known to take risks on the red carpet, is wearing a Givenchy that only she could pull off. (Maybe Charlize Theron could work it, but last night it was Blanchett.) With an interesting structure and an unusual pairing of light lavender and pale yellow, Blanchett walked the carpet with confidence and looked fabulous and fashion forward.

Not to be outdone, the three hunks from The Social Network stepped it up. Look at those handsome men! On the left, Jesse Eisenberg looks remarkably comfortable in what is almost certainly an anxiety inducing situation. On the right, JTims looks just right in a perfectly tailored tux from Tom Ford. (I would except nothing less from Ford.) And in the center, Andrew Garfield looks classic and ridiculously handsome. Can't you just see him taking up the mantle currently held by George Clooney and once held by Cary Grant as that timeless, talented and really, really good looking guy? Oh, and he's about to be a super hero. Zang!

It wasn't all good, though. Nicole Kidman showed up in a Dior dress that didn't work for her. She commented on the carpet that she liked it for its structure, but I thought that's what was worst about it. The structure did nothing except make her look like she had terribly large hips - and she doesn't. And the pattern on the skirt of the dress looked more like a tablecloth than something that was red carpet ready. She's a tall, statuesque woman who can sometimes pull off these more structured dresses, but not this time.

Perhaps the best dressed, though, was my girl crush, Reese Witherspoon. A past winner for her incredible portrayal of June Carter in Walk the Line and a presenter on Sunday night, Reese looked absolutely stunning in a simple, clean and classic black and white dress. The black tube bodice hugged her body, complementing her curves and making the petite star look seven feet tall, while the white trim up top gave the dress a little something extra, don't ya think? And though the dress has a very classic look and her make up was appropriately understated, her high and full pony tail added some modern flair and helped bring out her bubbly, effervescent personality. Snaps for Reese!

And now that we have fashion out of the way, how about the actual award ceremony? Our fearless leaders, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, did a nice job in this experiment aimed at attracting younger viewers. I doubt they had much input to the "history lessons" we got throughout the broadcast, which seemed only to slow down the proceedings so I won't blame them for that. I liked their opening montage, in which they interpolated themselves into some of this year's best picture nominees...and Back to the Future! As someone who can probably speak the entire movie along with Marty and Doc, I found this random addition to be particularly fun. And James Franco dressed at Marilyn Monroe was also particularly fun.

No truly outrageous moments, but here are a couple of things I didn't understand or that I question: (1) Would there have been that extra tribute to Lena Horne if there had been more (or any) diversity among the top nominees? (2) Why did Hilary Swank need to introduce Kathryn Bigelow to present the award? Couldn't have Franco or Hathaway just introduced Bigelow?

My favorite part, aside from Aaron Sorkin winning, of course, was Steven Spielberg's intro to the Best Picture category. He noted that one of the ten nominees would join the ranks of All Quiet on the Western Front and On the Waterfront. But he also noted that nine of the ten nominees would join the ranks of such great films as Citizen Kane and Raging Bull. I liked this frame because it's a reminder that so many of the great films in the canon and so many prolific and celebrated actors, directors and designers may be awardless (or remain awardless until regrettably late in their career) and yet that's not what we remember. We remember that Raging Bull was a great film. That Leonardo DiCaprio is the best actor of his generation yet, to date, he's never won an Oscar. That Martin Scorsese didn't win an Oscar for directing until 2007 when he won for The Departed, but that didn't stop him from making incredible films until and since then.

So, while we are reminded that sometimes the Academy misses the mark or flat out gets it wrong (there are some examples of that this year), here is a selected list of nominees and winners (winners are in bold). You can visit oscars.org for the complete list of winners.

Best Cinematography

  • Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
  • Wally Pfister, Inception
  • Danny Cohen, The King’s Speech
  • Jeff Cronenweth, The Social Network
  • Roger Deakins, True Grit
(This was the right choice. Inception looked beautiful and though it was Christopher Nolan's vision, it was Pfister's execution that made the magic. Speaking of Nolan, he seemed to be the Michael Mayer of the Oscars. Do you remember at the 2010 Tony Awards that Mayer was grossly left out of the Best Director category? Then you may also remember that when Kevin Adams (lighting designer) and Christine Jones (scenic designer) won their awards, they went out of their way to honor Mayer and his vision as a director. Inception won four awards on Sunday, each for a design or other technical element, and each award recipient gushed about Nolan and his visionary direction. The Academy was remiss to leave Nolan out of the directing category, and these winners didn't let them forget it. Way to go, designers!)

Best Editing

  • Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan
  • Pamela Martin, The Fighter
  • Tariq Anwar, The King’s Speech
  • Jon Harris, 127 Hours
  • Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Network
(Excellent choice. The way this film cut between depositions and rowing competitions and parties and hack-a-thons was brilliant so kudos to Wall and Baxter on winning one of The Social Network's three Oscars.)

Best Score

  • John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon
  • Hans Zimmer, Inception
  • Alexandre Desplat, The King’s Speech
  • A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
(This is definitely the right choice. Reznor and Ross's haunting, atonal score added so much to the film. I was re-watching it again yesterday (are you surprised?) and noticed that certain scenes, despite Aaron Sorkin's brilliant words, David Fincher's expert direction and the cast's incredible performance, would have been rather boring or slow moving were it not for this terrific score. Also, Trent Reznor looks mighty fine in a tuxedo!)

Best Original Screenplay

  • Mike Leigh, Another Year
  • Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson,The Fighter
  • Christopher Nolan, Inception
  • Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right
  • David Seidler, The King’s Speech
(This isn't a surprise and I think the script is good, though I would have really liked for either Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg or Christopher Nolan to have won. I really would have liked Nolan to have been honored here since he was left out of the directing category.)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours
  • Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
  • Michael Arndt, Toy Story 3
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, True Grit
  • Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone
(Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This didn't come as a surprise - it was one of the surest awards heading into the night, but I'm so happy that the Academy honored smart, high-minded writing that celebrates smarts. Also, now Aaron Sorkin's daughter's guinea pig will give Sorkin some respect. So there's that...)

Best Supporting Actor

  • 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

(We all knew this was going to happen. And it's well deserved. Still, I have to take a moment to bemoan the fact that Andrew Garfield wasn't even nominated. Bale still would have (and probably should have) won but Garfield could have, in my opinion, easily replaced either John Hawkes or Jeremy Renner as nominees. Both were good but neither impressed the way Garfield did.)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams, The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
  • Melissa Leo, The Fighter
  • Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  • Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

(Right choice. Simple as that.)

Best Actor

  • Javier Bardem, Biutiful
  • Jeff Bridges, True Grit
  • Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  • Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
  • James Franco, 127 Hours

(Like the Supporting Actor Category, this wasn't a surprise and is definitely a good choice. This was a tough category, with truly fantastic performances from Firth, Eisenberg and Franco. But like the Supporting Actor Category, I'll lament, once again, the outrageousness of Ryan Gosling being left out of this category. I haven't seen Biutiful so I have no idea of Bardem's performance; I have seen True Grit, though, and as much as I love "The Dude," perhaps that slot would have been better filled by Gosling.)

Best Actress

  • Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Michelle WIlliams, Blue Valentine
(Great performance. Great choice. Great dress. Great speech. Nicely done, Natalie.)

Best Director

  • Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
  • David O. Russell, The Fighter
  • Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
  • David Fincher, The Social Network
  • Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, True Grit
(Nope. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Of those nominated, either David Fincher or Darren Aronofsky deserved this. Truly, Christopher Nolan deserved this for his incredible vision in Inception. In my opinion, there were some odd directing choices in The King's Speech and hooper shouldn't have won this over Fincher or Aronofsky. Boo.)

Best Picture

(Well, dear readers, it shouldn't surprise you that I disagree with this one. The Social Network should have won. Each element was absolutely perfect and the film actually had something to say about the year, or at least era, it's representing at this year's awards. The King's Speech was good and inspiring, and I liked it just fine, but it says nothing of its time, which I think a Best Picture should do. But, I guess this just further proves the power of Harvey Weinstein.)

And that's it. No more awards...that is, until this spring when theatre honors will begin to be handed out, culminating in June with the Tony awards! But regarding film, this was a pretty good year for film, with the majority of the ten Best Picture nominees actually being good (and successful!) movies. Cheers to designers, writers, directors and actors expressing themselves on celluloid!