Whether your preference was for cocaine and champagne or caffeine and custard creams, the 84th Academy Awards provided just enough entertainment to keep UK film fans up until 5am. Beginning with Kim Jong Il’s ashes and ending with Frenchmen’s tears – with a large amount of Angelina Jolie’s right leg in the middle – here’s a recap of all the Oscar news that’s fit to print…
One of the most heinous side products of the Academy Awards is the freakshow that is the red carpet coverage. If you’ve never peaked at E! in the run up to the ceremony, then kudos to you. If you have you’ll be aware of the inane – to the point of stroke inducing – banter, with “fashion coverage” consisting of vomit worthy skinny women “awwing” and “ahhing” over women whose rib cages aren’t visible from space. The condescending nature of Giuliana Rancic (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Kif from Futurama), Kelly Osbourne and co’s views on Melissa McCarthy and other ‘nominees that like to nom’ may well as well have ended with “Wow. I’m so amazed at the courage these people have to leave the house without a winch”. If they had souls they could use their own comments to make themselves sick and therefore remain thin. But they don’t.
9Brimful Of Sacha
The red carpet did provide some joy, however, in the form of Sacha Baron Cohen pouring an urn purporting to contain the ashes of Kim Jong Il over Ryan Seacrest in a stunt to promote his new movie, The Dictator. After days of talk of Sacha being banned, in case he pulled something exactly like he did, The Dictator was given the go ahead to tread a small amount of carpet. The reaction of a very pissed off Seacrest proved that unlike the Eminem/Bruno skit this was completely unrehearsed. Cue Twitter instantly being saturated with “So Ryan, who are you wearing?” gags.
The instigator of the ‘placed inside the nominated movies’ skit, Crystal kicked things off with a short film in which he, shock horror, placed himself inside the nominated movies. Cut to Billy in a coma for The Descendants, Billy in Paris for Midnight In Paris and so forth. From there the nine-times host played it safer than a safe in a safe house. Pandering to the audience in the room, rather than the audience at home, meant mixed reviews for the one-time Harry with a presentation that would best be described as adequate. No more. No less.
One thing the Oscars do very well is international relations. In stark contrast to the current Republican Presidential Debates, in which old white guys tell Iranians that their women and children will soon all be killed for no reason, the old white guys of the Academy give Iranians an award and let them explain that people from other countries are people too. The win for A Separation was arguably one of the night’s most deserved.
6Sit Down, Stand Up
Perhaps it was a new Hollywood exercise routine, but standing ovations were very much en vogue for the 84th Academy Awards. Kicked off by one for Octavia Spencer (whose career thus far isn’t exactly “legendary”) it seemed every award after would achieve the highest acclaim imaginable, with even the Cirque de Soleil show bringing the audience to its collective feet. But in the way that no one is special if everyone is special, it detracted from the honour bestowed on Christopher Plummer, a true legend so deserving of a standing ovation those in attendance should have burnt their seats after.
5Good Night For Good TV
Fans of Community and Flight of the Conchords rejoice as patrons of both shows are now certified winners of Oscars. Bret ‘Present’ MacKenzie picked up the award for Best Original Song for The Muppets and Jim ‘Dean Pelton’ Rash, part of the writing team behind The Descendants, picked up a gong for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also struck a very impressive pose up on the podium. Sadly not in Lady Gaga costume.
4Hugo? Yes, No
When next year’s list of Oscar Mistakes is penned, journos will have a new fact to cite: Hugo joins The Aviator as Martin Scorsese’s most successful film at the ceremony with five wins under its belt. In fact within 15 minutes of these awards, Hugo had matched Raging Bull‘s total and surpassed that of Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. Whether you’re a Hugo fan or not, that stat is whack.
Some presenters tried for funny and failed (Robert Downey Jr., Diaz and J.Lo), while others tried for funny and succeeded (Emma Stone, Will and Zach). Others went for professionalism and nailed it (Portman and Firth), others elicited nothing but yawns (Tom Cruise). The best surprise presenting was previous host Chris Rock, gathering the biggest laugh of the night for calling Hollywood on racism in animation. “Scrawny white guys can play muscle heroes, but black guys get Donkeys and Zebras.” His kiss off about getting paid for it was wonderfully honest too.
Surpassing every talking head clip promoting “The Magic of Movies”, the In Memoriam slideshow has a power like no other. Presented with the lost talent that brought some of your favourite moments to life, you can’t help but feel charged at the importance of great work. Great work exemplified by Peter Falk in The Princess Bride, Sidney Lumet with 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon and Network, or in the epitaph of producer Laura Ziskin; “In my world, in my vision, the hero always defeats the villain, the boy always gets the girl, and cancer is no more.” Humbling.
And lo it came to pass that the night belonged to The Artist. It wasn’t the clean sweep some had predicted (Woody’s win for Screenplay was one few had called and Hugo taking home just as many baldies), but the big wins belonged to the first silent Best Picture winner since the first ever ceremony. And few could grumble at that. Audibly or otherwise.