Ok, you probably witnessed the oddly toned 83rd Annual Academy Awards last night, a mix of pandering to the youth -- young hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway, MTV-like meta-movie skits (see the opening below), autotuning 'Harry Potter' and 'Twilight' several references to Banksy and Charlie Sheen -- and genuflecting to the olds -- a "Gone With The Wind" tribute, Kirk Douglas presenting the Best Supporting Actress award (which was both awesome and awkward), a dead people tribute sung by Celine Dion, an appearance by Billy Crystal and from-the-dead announcer Bob Hope among lots of other little things.
And somehow, the ratings did better than (we) expected (only a 7% drop from last year), but higher than 2008 and 2009) as Franco's narcoleptic stoner routine felt strange in contrast to Hathaway's perenially bubbly cheerleader. Let's face it for the first 30 minutes of the show, viewers were going, '"WTF is going on?"
But anyhow, let's get to the surprises and snubs in case you went to bed early (and we wouldn't blame you, we hit a wall with 40 minutes left). The night kicked off with a few surprises and given the already bizarro feel of the show, it hinted at a wonderfully weird night in terms of who would win what. But it was for naught, though most Oscar bloggers went 0-2 with the opening awards, the awards show went down as many predicted it would, including us.
They switched up the order this year and instead of kicking off with Best Supporting Actress, the night began with Art Direction. While most pundits had their money on "True Grit" or "The King's Speech," the award surprisingly went to Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara for "Alice In Wonderland," which took home two statuettes last night.
The great director of photography Roger Deakins is threatening to become the Susan Lucci of cinematography. Nominated eight times in his career, he and Danny Cohen of "The King's Speech" were considered the frontrunners, but in a wonderful surprise turn "Inception" lenser Wally Pfister took the prize kicking off a night that would lead to the Christopher Nolan helmed mind-bender to tie "The King's Speech" for winning the most number of awards (4 in total).
In another surprise move, Alexandre Desplat's "The King's Speech" original score did not take home the Oscar, instead the trophy went to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their moody and pulsating "The Social Network" score which should be seen as a major achievement for scores outside the norm that are usually never nominated, much less win the Oscar.
Surprises after that -- unless you were one of those who thought the critical chorus around "The Social Network" would be stronger than the crowd-pleasing vibe that "The King's Speech" gave guild and Academy members -- were pretty few. The biggest upset of the night might have been the fate of "The Social Network" in general. Nominated for 8 awards, the picture did take the coveted Best Editing award -- which usually goes hand and hand with Best Director and Best Picture -- but it could not muster more than three awards including Aaron Sorkin's win for Best Adapted Screenplay. The biggest snub was probably that of David Fincher as many expected "The Social Network" helmer to take the Best Directing prize (we won't even get into the Chris Nolan snub that happened during the nominations phase). How did this 180 sea change shift happen? How did "The Social Network" go from surefire winner early in the season to "The King's Speech" taking over? We have our ideas, but frankly, we'd love to read a more in-depth piece on this, Vanity Fair-style.
Other shut-outs that may be considered snubs were the Coen brothers "True Grit," nominated for the 2nd most number of awards after "The King's Speech," with 10 nods; the film came up totally empty-handed and Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are Alright," which was nominated for four awards and also came up with zero wins.
Which brings us to the Best Original Screenplay category which is generally reserved for the "cool," innovative and edgy, often indie films -- past winners include, "Pulp Fiction," "Good Will Hunting," "Almost Famous," "Lost in Translation," and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." But while something like "The Kids Are All Right," therefore, would have seemed like the frontrunner in this category, the more orthodox "The King's Speech" took the bauble instead.
Speaking of 'Kids,' Natalie Portman did dominate the season, but late-game groundswell support began to rise for Annette Bening. Nominated four times in her lengthy career, some thought she could pull a last-minute win over the "Black Swan" ballerina, but it was not to be. Frankly, some of the Playlist members, including this writer -- though not all, (we are divided on that film) -- think this was unfortunate. Bening owned "The Kids Are All Right," with her frosty, micro-managing mother and Portman has an entire career in front of her, but we suppose we shouldn't muddy the waters with "they'll have another shot down the road" thinking, because then we end up in "Scent Of A Woman" awards for folks like Al Pacino. In short, Bening deserved to win, but so did Portman.
"The Fighter," which was nominated for 7 awards -- 3rd highest of the night -- took home two awards: Christian Bale and Melissa Leo for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively. All was good in that universe and the two awards were expected -- Leo's f-bomb during her acceptance speech, probably less so.
Even though Colin Firth should have won last year for his superior performance in "A Single Man," his Best Actor win last night was no surprise. There was quiet talk around the Playlist water cooler that whispered an upset from Javier Bardem for his harrowing performance in "Biutiful," given all the celebrity support behind him (friends like Sean Penn and Julia Roberts actively campaigned on his and the film's behalf), but it was just not meant to be.
While some were sort of shocked that "Alice In Wonderland" took Best Costume over "The King’s Speech," "True Grit" and "I Am Love," a closer inspection shows that it was likely a no-brainer: the 'Alice' designer was Academy favorite Colleen Atwood who has won 3 Oscars and has been nominated 9 times. Not too shabby. So those were pretty much the awards. How did you feel about it? What were your biggest snubs? Are you still outraged that the more traditional "The King's Speech" won Best Picture over "The Social Network"? Or like us, did you simply shrug and assume as much would happen when you saw the Guild late-season writing on the wall. And hey, it's always fun when Oscar pundits are wrong. Sound off below with your Oscar kvetching. Lord knows we're kind of hungover and probably missed something.
Below is the opening video montage of the Oscars, ripped from the spoofing MTV Movie Awards playbook of putting new actors in scenes of nominated films. They must be pissed on this one. Too bad you can't trademark that kind of idea and hell, it was probably the first time older Academy viewers, saw this type of meta-joke montage, so they were probably thrilled by it.