The silent film spoke the loudest in last night’s 2012 Academy Awards as The Artist won Best Picture. Jean Dujardin and Michael Hazanavicius also scored big wins for The Artist for Best Actor and Director. Hopefully its total of five wins will bring some much needed attention at the box office. Also bringing home five Oscar wins, all in technical categories was Hugo. It won for Best Art Design, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and perhaps a bit of a surprise, in Visual Effects. Like The Artist, Hugo should see yet another boost from the Oscar wins although a 14-week run helped by 3D ticket sales has already brought in almost $70 million for Martin Scorsese and company, whereas The Artist has bought in just over $31 million in the same 14-week time span. Before exalting in French, Dujardin graciously addressed his peers in the room, “I love your country.” We’ll find out if America loves him back in the weeks that follow.
Other heavy favorites including A Separation (Best Foreign Film), Rango (Best Animated Feature), Meryl Streep (Best Actress) Christopher Plummer (Best Supporting Actor) and Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress) won. For Streep, it was just her third win in 17 nominations, while Plummer won his very first despite a magnificent career. Woody Allen won his first Oscar since 1987 for Best Original Screenplay with Midnight in Paris.
There were very few surprises but the ones that stood out were Mark Coulier winning for transforming Meryl Streep into Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, an eyebrow raiser when you consider Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was in the running. Justifiably, Ludovic Bource won for Best Score with The Artist, which had to get at least Kim Novak out of her chair in disagreement after calling the use of some music from Bernard Herrmann’s score in Vertigo as “rape.”
The ceremony and presentations were a big improvement over the horrendous tag team of Anne Hathaway and James Franco from 2011′s broadcast. Billy Crystal brought his old bag of tricks, including a tired song and dance monologue where the music mix drowned out Crystal’s microphone and his old, “what are they thinking” bit. Unfortunately, there were mic problems all night that could be heard in acceptance speeches, but the ceremony’s problems did not overshadow a classy, fast-moving night that clocked in at three hours.
Skits from Christopher Guest and his usual cast of actors critiquing The Wizard of Oz, The Muppets, and Cirque du Soleil, were mild highlights, while the montage of celebrities answering mundane questions about film fell flat. Why the Oscars continue to produce these trite segments and cutoff speeches from winners is beyond me. Although there was one that brought a smile to my face. “What Makes a Film Great?” provided some funny moments like having Werner Herzog contributing to the piece as well as Sacha Baron Cohen breaking up the monotony of the segment by revealing, “I want to make something that I want to watch. And I just happen to want to watch some really sick stuff!”
Cohen who played the train station cop in Hugo made a big splash on the red carpet, dressing as The Dictator, promoting his new film and carrying the “ashes” of deceased North Korean “supreme leader” Kim Jong-il. He pretended to fumble the urn and spill the contents all over Ryan Seacrest on press row. It was a hilarious stunt that went viral and as celebrities inched closer to Seacrest, he then proceeded to explain what happened, giving Cohen and The Dictator endless plugs the rest of the night as well as a viral video that proves Cohen’s marketing genius. It also gave E!’s Red Carpet Coverage something interesting to talk about other than designers, plunging necklines, and structured gowns. Was Ryan Seacrest in on the gag? Who knows for sure, but it got people talking about The Dictator so Cohen’s goal was accomplished even though he was banned from doing anything inside the Kodak Theatre.
Aside from Cohen, those who create a buzz on the red carpet in the traditional way were Natalie Portman in a polka dotted red Christian Dior vintage gown; Milla Jovovich in a white Elie Saab number; Angelina Jolie in a black Aletier Versace and her beau Brad Pitt in a Tom Ford tux; Octavia Spencer in an off-white jeweled Tadashi Shoji gown; Cameron Diaz in a white silk Gucci Premiere gown; Viola Davis left the wig at home and stunned in a green Vera Wang, Stacy Keibler in gold Marchesa column gown, and Rooney Mara stepped out of the black and wowed in a white Givenchy. In contrast, Melissa McCarthy, Marina Rinaldi was an absolute mess; Emma Stone’s red drapery looked like she took off the big red bow off the Lexus car commercials and wrapped it around her neck; and Meryl Streep would have been better had she accepted her Oscar from home. Jessica Chastain easily gets best hair and makeup.
Presenters were raising eyebrows the entire night from Jennifer Lopez’s potential wardrobe malfunction, Sandra Bullock looking… well, Joan Rivers-esque, and Chris Rock’s breakdown of roles for blacks in animated films. Angelina Jolie’s power stance revealed a lot of leg and squashed thoughts that she is mom or many now and no longer a hottie while presenting the Oscars for Best Adapted and Original Screenplays, but was later mocked by Community’s Jim Rash when he joined Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon for The Descendants.
Still, nothing felt too over-produced, and the night’s classiest moment may have been the In Memoriam segment where deceased members of the industry are remembered. In the past, a montage clips of the more widely known personalities drew long applause while others behind the scenes were given next to no response. Last night, almost each of departed were given a large black and white photo were shown while Esperanza Spalding performed, “What a Wonderful World,” and applause was held until the end. It was probably the best that segment has ever been treated.
The list of winners are below:
Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson, Hugo
Best Art Design: Dante Ferretti and Feancesca Lo Chiavo, Hugo
Best Costume Design: Mark Bridges, The Artist
Best Makeup: Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, The Iron Lady
Best Foreign Film: A Separation (Iran)
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Editing: Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Best Sound Editing: Philip Stockton and Eugene Geary, Hugo
Best Sound Mixing: Tom Fleischman and John Midgley, Hugo
Best Documentary: Undefeated
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Best Visual Effects: Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning, Hugo
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Score: Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Best Original Song: Bret McKenzie, “Man or Muppet” From The Muppets
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Descendants
Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Best Short Live Action Film: The Shore
Best Documentary Short: Saving Face
Best Animated Short: Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Best Director: Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Picture: The Artist