February 28, 2011
This year's broadcast started with emcees James Franco and Anne Hathaway in a hilarious short film where they go into an "Inception" scenario to enter the dream of Alec Baldwin in order to find tips on how to host the Oscar show. Baldwin was last year's Oscar host, with Steve Martin. They find themselves donning different costumes as they interact with characters in the different nominated films, like The Social Network, True Grit, The Fighter and The King's Speech ("The microphones get a lot smaller!"). For me, the funniest one was theBlack Swan spoof where Anne was the Brown Duck and James was in embarrassing white tights.
However, after that, their emceeing bits were uneven, but they were generally lighthearted and pleasant. James Franco looked very ill at ease at many parts (evident even in the teasers that preceded the show). Anne Hathaway wore gown after gown with varying success (1 in the red carpet and 7 more in the show) and was very hyper! Their jokes do not work all the time. I did not like that sequence where Anne sang "On My Own" to Hugh Jackman who supposedly stood her up as a singing partner, and ended with James Franco wearing a pink Marilyn Monroe evening gown. As good as Anne may have sang, that bit led absolutely nowhere.
Tom Hanks presented the first two awards. For me, these were unexpected ones from the get-go. Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara won BEST ART DIRECTION for Alice in Wonderland. BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY went to Wally Pfisterof Inception, despite advanced buzz for Roger Deakins of True Grit who has been nominated many times but never won an Oscar before.
Veteran actor Kirk Douglas was introduced to present BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS. He was slurring so badly I was not understanding most of what he was saying. I was rooting for 14-year old Fil-Am Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit for this award. However, despite her unpopular consideration posters, the award still went to favorite, Melissa Leo for The Fighter. Ms. Leo actually dropped an "F" word in her speech, not good at all.
The awards for Animated Films were presented by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. BEST ANIMATED SHORT winner was The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann. The BEST ANIMATED FILM was expectedly Toy Story 3. The award was received by director Lee Unkrich.
Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem wore matching all-white tuxedos as they presented the Writing awards. These two awards both went to the favorites. The BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY award went to Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network. The
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY award went to David Seidler for
The King’s Speech. Mr. Seidler said he was the oldest man to ever win this award, as he called charmingly himself a "late bloomer.". He was a stutterer himself so writing this screenplay must have been cathartic for him.
Helen Mirren and the annoying Russell Brand (aka Mr. Katy Perry) paired up to present the award for BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM. The clear favorite was Biutiful from Mexico, whose star Javier Bardem was nominated for Best Actor. However, the prize went to In a Better World from Denmark. This film was also the film that won this prize at the Golden Globes.
Reese Witherspoon presented the award for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR. This was hardly any surprise when she announced the name of Christian Bale for The Fighter. Christian's ginger-colored beard looked weird to say the least, in contrast with his black hair.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE award was presented by Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. The award went to Nine Inch Nails rocker Trent Reznor and his collaborator Atticus Ross for their minimalist score for The Social Network. They were up against very strong competition like A.R. Rahman for 127 Hours and Hans Zimmer for Inception.
The Sound Awards were presented by Matthew McConaughey and Scarlett Johannssen. They expectedly went to the same movie, Inception. BEST SOUND MIXING award went to Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick, who all thanked their wives, yes including Lora; while the BEST SOUND EDITING award went to Richard King.
The glamorous Cate Blanchett presented the next awards. Funny how she said that the makeup for The Wolfman was "gross" and then read the card that said that the BEST MAKEUP Oscar went to Rick Baker and Dave Elsey for The Wolfman. This was already the 7th Oscar for Rick Baker. BEST COSTUME DESIGN Oscar went to Colleen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland. This is the 3rd Oscar for Ms. Atwood. She had won before for Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha.
The next clips showed people saying what their favorite song from the movies were. Pres. Barack Obama revealed his favorite to be "As Time Goes By" from Casablanca. Kevin Spacey introduced the next performers. 20-time nominee Randy Newman played his song "We Belong Together" on the piano. I could hardly hear him sing. Then, a very mature-looking unrecognizable Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi duetted on a sleepy version of “I See the Light,” by Alan Menken from Tangled.
Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal presented the awards for Short Films. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT winner was Strangers No More by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon. The BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT winner was God of Love by Luke Matheny. The acceptance speech by Matheny was one of the best in the whole show, where he quipped that he should have had a haircut (his hair was wildly curly) and thanked his mom for her crafts work for his movie. This movie also had a couple of Fil-Am women as co-producers.
A stately Oprah Winfrey presented the award for BEST DOCUMENTARY Feature, the "movies that did not let us escape". The surprise winner was Inside Job by Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs. The favorite was Exit Through the Gift Shop by the elusive and secretive street artist Banksy, who was even referenced earlier in the show by Justin Timberlake.
Billy Crystal received a standing ovation (really? does he deserve one already?) when he came out to introduce a hologram of hilarious Oscar host Bob Hope, who in turn introduced Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law who will present the next awards. The winners forBEST VISUAL EFFECTS were Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb for Inception. The unexpected winners for BEST EDITING were Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for The Social Network. I was so sure Inception would sweep the technical awards!
A svelte Jennifer Hudson in daring tangerine came out to introduce the next performances of BEST SONG nominees. A.R. Rahmanperformed “If I Rise,” from 127 Hours with Florence Welch. Then Gwyneth Paltrow sang “Coming Home,” from Country Strong, very well, I must say. The winner for this category was “We Belong Together,” by Randy Newman from Toy Story 3. Randy Newman won only his 2nd Oscar for Best Song after 20 nominations. He was quite tongue-in-cheek grouchy during his acceptance speech.
The In Memoriam segment was introduced by Celine Dion singing Charlie Chaplin's "Smile". Notables on the list included Tony Curtis, Gloria Stuart, Leslie Nielsen, Susannah York, Pete Postlethwaite, Jill Clayburgh and Dennis Hopper. The last photograph shown was that of Lena Horne. Halle Berry paid special tribute to this first black contract star of a major production company. The segment ended with a video of Ms. Horne singing "Stormy Weather."
Hilary Swank introduced last year's Best Director winner, the very tall Katheryn Bigelow to present the award for BEST DIRECTOR this year. The winner was unexpectedly Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech. He acknowledged his "triangle of man love" with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. He also advised everyone to "listen to your mother." At this point I was thinking, will The King's Speech already win Best Picture? Or will the split decision be the other way around, with The Social Network as Best Picture? Very interesting.
Jeff Bridges introduced and greeted each BEST ACTRESS nominee personally before the announcement of the expected winner, Natalie Portman for Black Swan. Sandra Bullock then had the same style with the BEST ACTOR nominees. Similarly the expected winner won, Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. His speech ended with a funny reference to a call of nature.
Steven Spielberg presented the BEST PICTURE nominees. He said while the winner will join films like Gone With the Wind and In the Waterfront, the other nine will join films like Citizen Kane and Raging Bull. Strangely, the clips from the 10 nominees were shown in a short film montage which was played with George VI's speech from the eventual winner, The King’s Speech. I felt that was rather like a spoiler of sorts, making the announcement anticlimactic, though I was still thinking that The Social Network could spring a last surprise. Anyway, that was it. Looking forward to another year of films till the next Oscar night comes around.