The 83rd Academy Awards – Could Have Been Worse!

Oscars 2

Well, that it’s for another year. The Oscars® are done – and the show was only ten minutes long! [That’s not a record – I’m certain it came in on time once, a few decades back…]

For the record, James Franco and Anne Hathaway should probably not be asked back to co-host. Franco was surprisingly dead for most of the evening and it’s only because of Hathaway that I didn’t hit mute whenever they were onscreen after the first half-hour.

My thoughts on the show as a whole – and the major awards – follow the jump.

The opening sequence with Franco and Hathaway entering Alec Baldwin’s dream, a la Inception, and fluttering through the best picture nominees was, in a word, crappy. It reminded me of the kind of thing that you might see on the MTV Movie Awards – if the writers hadn’t tried so hard to be hip, it might have worked, but all it did was make me think, ‘Bring back Billy Crystal!’

Technically, the show well done. I liked the way the stage was changed to appropriate backdrops for certain categories [Shrek’s Land of Far, Far Away for the animation awards was particularly cool], and the orchestra was, as always, perfect.

Where the show suffered most [as the opening montage showed] was in the writing. The material was suited for someone like [bring back] Billy Crystal, and Franco and Hathaway [but most especially Franco] just felt like they were lost.

And just whose brilliant idea was it to have Celine Dion sing over the In Memoriam segment? And what brainchild decided to go into the In Memoriam segment from a commercial? Especially with Dion singing. I swear, I heard her voice and assumed it was another commercial and I had another thirty seconds to get back to my couch before the show returned. Stupid monkeys!

For the most part, the presenters were okay, but I can’t understand how some of the big names were persuaded to appear for thirty second bits of dubious quality. Only a few rose above their material: Kirk Douglas showed he can still play a room; Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law actually seemed to be making it up as they went along [that’s called acting, folks!], and Sandra Bullock managed to turn her fawning lines into something smart and a little bit snarkly [that’s snarky & sparkly].

Then, the clichéd big closing – the P.S. 22 chorus. Normally, I’m a sucker for singing children – but this was so blatantly manipulative that it just felt wrong. [But movies do manipulate us, I hear you shout. Yes, but the good ones do it without making you aware that they’re doing it…]

Anyroad, let’s look at how the actual awards shook out.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

· 127 Hours – Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy

· 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

Aaron Sorkin won. Quelle surprise. He deserved it. He also gave a witty acceptance speech that showed a bit of class – and a bit of arrogance. Weird mix. I wonder how many times he rehearsed it in front of his bathroom mirror.

Writing (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

· The King’s Speech – Screenplay by David Seidler

Inception might have been the most original script of the year, but The King’s Speech was more relatable. Stuttering and stammering know nothing about class – they can affect princes as well as paupers. David Seidler’s acceptance speech was funny and heartfelt. Very nice.


Animated Feature Film

· How to Train Your Dragon – Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois

· The Illusionist – Sylvain Chomet

· Toy Story 3 – Lee Unkrich

Lee Unkrich gave a great acceptance speech and, really, Toy Story 3 deserved the award more than the other nominees.

Actress in a Supporting Role

· Amy Adams in The Fighter

· Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech

· Melissa Leo in The Fighter

· Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit

· Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Leo was the favorite, but really, Weaver gave at least as good a performance and Steinfeld not only gave as good a performance, she was, effective the female lead in True Grit, so she kept up that level of quality over a greater period of time. The f-bomb was bleeped in the U.S., but we got it, loud and clear, in Canada. I was laughing well into the next commercial break.

Actor in a Supporting Role

· Christian Bale in The Fighter

· John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone

· Jeremy Renner in The Town

· Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right

· Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech

This category was Bale’s to lose. His ‘what the hell am I doing in this room with all you brilliant types’ acceptance speech laid on the false modesty a bit thick. Oddly enough, I may be the only person who didn’t wonder what he was doing with a flaming red beard [before I went gray, my hair was only slightly less dark a shade of brown than Bale’s and I, too, had a bright red beard, so I know it happens].

Actress in a Leading Role

· Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right

· Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole

· Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone

· Natalie Portman in Black Swan

· Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

Black Swan may have pooped out in its final scene, but Natalie Portman was brilliant and committed right to end. One of the few showy roles and actually deserved the Oscar®. Her acceptance speech was a rambling mess. Hormones? Or just a lack of prep time?


Actor in a Leading Role

· Javier Bardem in Biutiful

· Jeff Bridges in True Grit

· Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network

· Colin Firth in The King’s Speech

· James Franco in 127 Hours

Colin Firth was deserving but his acceptance speech was probably the most bizarre of the evening. Not sure what to make of that – except that, if I ever get to attend a party where he shows up, I’m going to see if he really can bust a move.


· Black Swan – Darren Aronofsky

· The Fighter – David O. Russell

· The King’s Speech – Tom Hooper

· The Social Network – David Fincher

· True Grit – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

If David Fincher was robbed, I’m glad it was by Tom Hooper. The King’s Speech was a marvelous film even more than it was a statement for people who have involuntary speech impediments. I’m just saddened to hear that a version with the f-bombs muted will be released to allow younger viewers to see it. It should have been PG-13 to begin with. Hooper’s acceptance speech was actually moving. Good for him for having his priorities straight.

Best Picture

· Black Swan – Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers

· The Fighter – David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers

· Inception – Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers

· The Kids Are All Right – Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers

· The King’s Speech – Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers

· 127 Hours – Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers

· The Social Network – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers

· Toy Story 3 – Darla K. Anderson, Producer

· True Grit – Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

· Winter’s Bone – Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

The King’s Speech fulfilled expectations. The film’s producers seemed genuinely surprised and barely got their acceptance speeches in before the appearance of the P.S. 22 Chorus. Inception didn’t win, but I’m good with 1c.

For the record, I was five of eight on the major awards. Not going to win many pools with that showing.

Now let’s see if the Academy Awards producers can do something really original next year – besides flashy visuals – and get some writing that actually plays to the host[s]’ strengths.

Final Grade: C+