So last night was the 84th Academy Awards and after last year's horrifying disaster with Anne Hathaway and James Franco hosting, show producers went to their old standby Billy Crystal.
Billy wasn't great, and he wasn't awful — he was simply Billy. He delivered the occasional sarcastic industry insider joke, the kind the TV audience misses but those in attendance snicker at. From afar Billy looked perfectly fine for his age (he'll be 62 in a couple weeks), but up close, you could see some botched face work. Oh well, this is Hollywood; aging gracefully is unacceptable.
Let's keep this simple, shall we?
Hugo took home a bunch of awards, though mostly technical (Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Art Direction), much to the delight of my children. There was much Scorsese butt-kissing going on, and that's great. After being ignored for years, it's time Martin get some much needed recognition. However, neither he nor his film took home the evening's big prizes.
Retro Comeback: The Artist, a silent film (it's not REALLY silent, but pretty close by today's standards) won for Best Film, Best Director, Best Film Score, and its lead, French actor and comedian Jean Dujardin, won Best Actor for his portrayal of George Valentin, a silent film star.
The French film (directed by Michel Hazanavicius who won Best Director) was all the talk at last year's Cannes and practically swept all the big Oscars last night. Lead character Valentin is at the cusp of losing his star status as Hollywood transitions to "talkies" and takes a young actress and singer under his wing, Bérénice Bejo, who plays opposite Dujardin as Peppy Miller (also nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting actress). Haven't seen this film yet, but it's been moved to the top of the list!
Best in show: Oscar winners, Meryl Streep and Jean Dujardin.
Sardonic Sidenote: The film also features Uggie, a scene-stealing pup who showed up to the Oscars in a tux tie, while former Hollywood "it" girl Sean Young was denied entrance and ended up in the Hollywood jail for trying to sneak into the Governor's Ball. Oh Hollywood, you so phony!
Best Actress Goes To: Meryl Streep, for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. We haven't seen this yet, but clips reveal the always consistently awesome Meryl Streep is still the best actress of our time. Her ability to slip into a character flawlessly is so amazing it's almost supernatural. Streep, like her acceptance speech, seems as wonderful in real life as she is on the screen. Congrats, Meryl, and for the record, I didn't sigh when they called your name!
Most Beautiful Moment: Esperanza Spalding's performance of "What a Wonderful World" during the "In Memoriam" segment was inspired. Almost equally amazing was the backing music provided solely by Southern California Children's Chorus. Simply sonically beautiful. Take a listen for yourself.
Captain Obvious Says: Academy voters made sure to show their diversity in the only way they know how: giving a "supporting" Oscar to a minority. In this case, the versatile and fabulous Octavia Spencer won for Best Supporting Actress in the amazing film The Help (another favorite among my kids). Despite being hurried along in her acceptance speech, Octavia received rousing applause and a standing O. Seriously, Hollywood, could you be any more cynical with your efforts to appear diverse? It's like 2012, get your sh*t together already.
The Help's Octavia Spencer for the win.
Worst Mugging: Goes to Angelina Jolie, or should I say, her right leg. I will bite my tongue and save my more snide and snarky observations about her withering and sickly frame and instead focus on her ridiculous one-legged posing... ALL NIGHT.
It wasn't enough that she stuck her right leg out in every damn picture on the red carpet, stealing her partner Brad Pitt's thunder (he was nominated for Best Actor, Moneyball). But then, during her presentation for Best Adapted Screenplay, she dramatically stuck out her pasty pin again, hand on hip, flubbing her lines and blinding the audience with her shiny wan countenance. Angelina has a beautiful face, but man, could she use some sun, a new stylist and some self-awareness. But hey, her leg now has its own Twitter account, so what do I know?!
Ew. Seriously? That is so gross.
Funniest Moment: Sadly, not delivered by Billy Crystal but rather the screenwriters for The Descendants, who won for Best Adapted Screenplay. When they stormed the stage to accept their award, writer Jim Rash mockingly stuck his leg out Jolie-style in what he described as an "impulse." Either way, he was a winner!
Awkward Moment: Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey, Jr. during their presentation slipped into a mock documentary skit, with Paltrow playing straight man to Downey's clowning around. I know some observers thought this was funny, and perhaps if Paltrow actually had a sense of humor it might have been, but for me it was weird and uncomfortable. It actually felt like Paltrow was genuinely chiding Downey, so it left me confused and bewildered. On second thought, maybe it was a success. Hmm...
Biggest Oscar Disappointment: Was delivered when Woody Allen won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay rather than Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig for their hilarious yet touching Bridesmaids. There goes Hollywood, being afraid to break out of the mold and be daring. Comedy just isn't taken seriously as a genuine film art form, and frankly it's getting a little old. I'm not suggesting Adam Sandler be nominated for churning out endless stinkers, but Bridesmaids deserved some serious recognition... in the form of a golden statue.
Always a bridesmaid: Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph
So there you have it: another lifeless, boring, uneventful, easily predictable Academy Awards. To see a list of all of last night's winners, click here.
Oh, please do us a favor, and bring back Alec Baldwin next year. Or better yet, let this guy host.