Waiting behind the scenes I anticipated to be greatly entertained from the 84th Academy Award host Billy Crystal. For some reason, the show was uninspiring and flat. The timing was off with some of the gags, and a multitude of show business people who have passed on since the last Oscar awards were ignored. The show tried to be classy and funny, but in its attempt it short changed the audience and fans.
As for my predictions, yes Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo” blew it for me. Winning five Academy Awards, the film knocked my prediction list into the gutter. Out of 24 categories, my final score came out with a poor 11 out of 24 correct, but enough of my whining. Let’s get on with the show.
Actor Morgan Freeman opened the show by introducing Billy Crystal, which featured Crystal’s patented Best Picture medley. Not as funny as his previous attempts, it did have a couple of memorable moments by parodying George Clooney’s role in “The Descendants” with Clooney planting a kiss on a comatose Crystal. Then, switch to Crystal bantering with teenage heartthrob Justin Beiber at a limousine window. They discussed the reason Beiber was on the show was to attract a younger audience. After that scene, the rest of the bit was forgettable.
Two time Oscar winner Tom Hanks limped out onstage to announce the awards for Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction. After the commercial break, Crystal bagged on the Kodak Theater being in bankruptcy, and then introduced a medley of famous movie moments before announcing presenters Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez. The pair gave out the awards for Best Costume Design and Best Make-Up, while making a high point of showing off they derrieres to the viewers in an attempt to be cute.
Commercial break: “Transformers: the Ride” only at Universal Studios- Hollywood.
Sandra Bullock came out on stage but was devoid of her usual spunk and vivaciousness. She presented the award for Best Foreign Film and then made a quick exit. Christian Bale announced the Best Supporting Actress award, which went to Octavia Spencer. She graciously accepted the award that clearly reflected her performance which was a cut above the other nominees.
Then, the show went on to do a tongue and cheek historical look at the first cinema focus group, which supposedly took place after watching “The Wizard of Oz” in 1939. The black and white parody featured actors Bob Balaban, Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, and Catherine O’Hara. The bit was mildly humorous and entertaining.
Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper presented the award for Best Editing to Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for their work on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Both winners tried to create an atmospheric charm, but ended up being annoying and lame with their acceptance speech. Thank goodness the program has a clock in place to cut any long winded and meandering speeches short. Fey and Cooper also announced the award for Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.
Going to a JC Penny commercial, which sponsored the telecast. The retail chain peppered spots featuring talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres, a former Oscar host, traveled back in time during the spots to find bargains on clothing interjecting her brand of humor along the way. The JCP breaks were unfunny and one could only wish that during the Roman Empire spot, DeGeneres would have been captured and thrown into the coliseum and fed to the lions for sport.
Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog attended and added their take on the Oscars from the balcony. Always amusing, the Muppets lampooned director Steven Spielberg, who did not seem to be featured as prominently as he had been in years past.
The show then broke away from its steady presenting pace and honored Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” using Cirque du Soleil circus artists and street entertainers to amuse the crowd. What was the reason for this? Simply put, there is nothing more boring than watching people that are watching something that’s boring. Show producer Brian Grazer said before the program, “Cirque du Soleil would perform this act once, and only one time.” Now, we know why.
Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow teamed up to present the award for Best Documentary. Downey, Jr., rather than walking on stage with his Iron Man co-star, arrived after the actress, joined by a camera crew, which he joked were filming his own documentary. The best word to describe this attempt at humor is … uncomfortable.
After the train wreck, former Academy Award host, Chris Rock, walked onstage to present the award for Best Animated Feature. He jokingly discussed how hard regular people work and how ridiculous it was to make a lot of money doing character voiceovers.
Moving the show along, Ben Stiller and Emma Stone presented the award for Best Visual Effects. First time presenter Stone was pseudo-enthusiastic about being onstage at the Oscars. The comedy skit went on and on to the point that people hoped Stiller would push the taller Stone into the orchestra pit. The whole moment was weighed down like a hot air balloon with sandbags.
“The Fighter” actress Melissa Leo presented the Best Supporting Actor award. Departing from her f-bomb speech from a year earlier, Leo made her appearance, and then promptly left the stage after announcing Christopher Plummer’s name as the winner. The 82-year-old actor received a standing ovation. A remarkable actor, Plummer has accomplished much and played a multitude of roles in his long career.
Owen Wilson and Penelope Cruz gave the award for Best Original Music Score, and then Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis walked out of the orchestra pit wearing white-on-white tuxedos, while each made an attempt at playing a pair of cymbals rhythmically. They made a detour to harass Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt before taking the stage. Presenting the award for Best Original Song, the pair kept dropping their cymbals, while having great difficulty in trying to open the award envelope.
After the cacophony of noise had died down, actress Angelina Jolie took to the microphone to present the awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. Shouting came from a few audience members in testament to her statuesque build and the way her form filled out her sexy gown with a slit up the side. Vavoom!
On an interesting note, director/actor/writer Woody Allen failed to appear in order to accept his Best Original Screenplay Oscar for “Midnight in Paris.” Common knowledge has it that Allen dislikes Los Angeles and prefers to stay in New York. Although, within the past year or so, Allen has taken a liking to Europe and has made his last two films there. The Academy accepted the award on his behalf.
Attractive in her own right, Ukrainian-born actress Milla Jovovich discussed how she had presented the Scientific and Technical Awards’ Oscars at a separate event where she was the host earlier this month. Twenty-nine awards were given out to various technical gurus at the dinner. Congratulations!
Then, “Bridesmaids” actresses Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig stormed the stage to present the Oscars for Best Live Action Short, Best Documentary Short, and Best Animated Short. In the process, members of the sextet played a drinking game and made a running double entendre joke about short films and a part of the male anatomy. The drinking game was amusing, while the double entendre joke came and went at the same time.
Michael Douglas presented the Best Director award, while Meryl Streep announced the honorary Oscar winners. James Earl Jones, make-up artist Dick Smith, and Oprah Winfrey were the three honorees. One can only wonder, if Oprah was impossible before, where does she go from here? Oy gevalt!
Now, it was time to pay tribute to the industry persons who had died in the past year. Elizabeth Taylor was featured prominently, while Whitney Houston was a recent addition. Singer Esperanza Spalding backed by a choir sang the Louis Armstrong mainstay song “What a Wonderful World” to accompany the “In Memoriam” montage. This was tastefully done, but the images were almost washed out with an overly bright, white light, and as always the Academy missed a few members who had moved on.
After the commercial, Natalie Portman presented the Oscar for Best Actor to Jean Dujardin. Only uttering two words in the film, “The Artist,” the French Dujardin masterfully made an impact with his performance as a silent film star, and was enthusiastic about his win. Afterwards, actor Colin Firth announced the Best Actress award to 17 time nominee Meryl Streep for playing the longest serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”
The show wrapped up its telecast with Tom Cruise announcing the Best Picture Oscar for “The Artist.” Billy Crystal went on to close the show, which only clocked in at a little over three hours in length.
Until next year, tootles!!!
Here is a list of the categories and winners for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Enjoy!
ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE
Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Octavia Spencer in “The Help”
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
“Rango” Gore Verbinski
“Hugo” Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
“Hugo” Robert Richardson
“The Artist” Mark Bridges
“The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
“Undefeated” TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas
DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)
“Saving Face” Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“A Separation” Iran
“The Iron Lady” Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
“The Artist” Ludovic Bource
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
“The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
“The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
“Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
“Hugo” Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
“Hugo” Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
“The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
“Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen