The State of Hollywood
2011 Oscar Fallout
By: Lawrence Napoli
So Oscar Night was presented by Anne Hathaway and James Franco. Two words come to mind: ho hum.
For people not established as funny to sell “funny” during any kind of live show - is to invite a slow motion train wreck. Both actors have shown slivers of comedy in the features they’ve appeared in and Franco, in particular, gets special recognition for his work with funnyordie.com. Anne was given most of the heavy lifting for the announcing duties, and rightly so, because the doobie Franco lit up backstage at around the 1.5 hour mark - made him a little disinterested in the rest of the evening.
Now on with the show!
Best Art Direction: Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara for Alice in Wonderland. Not a huge surprise here for those who actually saw this film. Although there was plenty of imagination that composed the set design of Inception, there was just as much other-worldly simulacra in Tim Burton’s evolution of this classic tale.
Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister for Inception. An acknowledgment for Chris Nolan as a master filmmaker by his production staff is simply not good enough for Academy voters as he was snubbed for the best director category. Regardless, this film has so many interesting things happening inside the frame that is neither an explosion nor Leo that a win in this category was a cake walk.
* The appearance of Kirk Douglas breaks my heart every time I see the man speak publicly. It’s the exact same feeling I get with Dick Clark. God love him because he tries, but, you know . . . well yeah.
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo for The Fighter. I predicted this. Her performance was nothing short of intense, compassionate and utterly revolting. I liked her speech and I love it when winners curse during that highly emotional moment.
Best Animated Short: The Lost Thing. Animated shorts need some kind of real exposure to the viewing public so people like me can write something more insightful than this right now.
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3. No, you think?
* Josh Brolin and Javier Bradem in matching, solid, white tuxedo tops? Really?
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network. This was a solid win for a solid film. Nice props to Fincher and wow the orchestra was really cutting Sorkin’s speech off short here!
Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler for The King’s Speech. This is the first shocker of the evening; further illustrating some conspiracy against Chris Nolan. Speech’s story was by no means bad, but it was also by no means as entertaining, insightful, and thought-provoking, oh and by the way, ORIGINAL as Inception. Strike ONE!
* Anne Hathaway’s little song to Mr. Hugh Jackman was fairly funny. James Franco in a dress: not so much.
Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World. First film from Denmark to win this category is pretty impressive. Getting this film to be played at some local Dispons would have been even more impressive.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale The Fighter. This is the second prediction to be confirmed and correct. Christian’s starting to loosen up as he took a poke at himself concerning the dropping of “F-Bombs.” Simply put, he deserved this award because he was that damn good! I would’ve killed to see the orchestra try to play him off his speech early and for him to get genuinely pissed, but alas, another time.
Best Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network. Yay more props to David Fincher, I wonder if he’ll be in the running for best director? Music is such a difficult category to predict because voters are looking for anything unique.
Best Sound Mixing: Lora Hirschberg and co. for Inception. More props given to Chris Nolan during this acceptance speech and as soon as his name gets mentioned, the band begins to play them off? Have you not seen this film yet? The layers upon layers of sound effects throughout create the foundation of this film’s epic nature.
Best Sound Editing: Richard King for Inception. Even more props for Chris Nolan individually by Mr. King. Did anyone have any doubts concerning the technical prowess of this film? Further evidence to the fact it won’t win best picture.
Best Makeup: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey for The Wolfman. Three cheers for horror monster films getting a nod from the Academy. I wonder if the CG department gets a cut of their Oscar trophies?
Best Costume Design: Colleen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland. Yep, this made a whole lot of sense because costumes really created the characters on screen. I didn’t enjoy Colleen’s prepared speech and neither did the orchestra.
* Randy Newman probably could have used Inception’s sound mixer to allow the audience at home to actually hear his voice. But perhaps the point was spare everyone the goofy “whops” and “woos” that comprise Randy’s personal, made up language.
Best Documentary Short: Strangers No More. Another of those, “gosh, I don’t live in LA or NY to actually have access to these innocuous films.” I’ll learn to live with disappointment.
Best Live Action Short Film: God of Love. Hey this director has crazy hair AND he’s a director who did not commit suicide from NYU’s film school. My man gets a thumbs-up for no vertical arterial slices!
Best Documentary Feature: Inside Job. A documentary about the financial meltdown on Wall Street? Exposure to corrupt, corporate America? Yep, that’s pretty much standard issue F.U. material to conservatives and Republicans sealed with a kiss from Hollywood Land. And it also guarantees Oscar gold!
* When the audience gave Billy Crystal a standing ovation was it really because they desperately desired for him to take over for the Wonder Twins? The digital presentation by virtual Bob Hope was quite sharp as well.
Best Visual Effects: Paul Franklin and co. for Inception. This was never in doubt. They spent $160 million bucks on this film for crying out loud!
Best Film Editing: Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for The Social Network. When a certain film by Chris Nolan is not nominated in a technical category, the award naturally goes to the film about virtual networking.
Best Original Song: Randy Newman for Toy Story 3. Where would Randy’s career be without Pixar? His speech was not entirely gracious as there was some venom behind the whole: “I don’t have great percentages here, nominated 20 times, won twice.” I didn’t care for it and I don’t quite care much for him.
-------------------- The Big Categories ----------------
* But first an appearance by . . . Celine Dion? Is she simply contractually obligated to appear whenever Titanic is referenced in any way, shape or form?
Best Director: Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech. This was indeed a bit of a shocker because out of all the films involved with this evening, The King’s Speech was certainly a film that did not require the channeling of Orson Wells to invoke a profound performance by its cast. I thought this category had Fincher written all over it, but I really thought Darren Aronofsky deserved it for Black Swan. Strike TWO!
* Jeff Bridges’ personal introductions to all the female lead nominees were well spoken, perfectly succinct, and uniquely cool of The Dude. He’s an all-around class act.
Best Lead Actress: Natalie Portman for Black Swan. Another prediction in the bank! She kicked ass by making ballet appear to kick ass on screen. To the victor go the spoils and so long as Amidala stays dead and buried, I expect even better things from Ms. Portman in the years to come.
* Sandra Bullock’s introductions for the men were not on the same level as Bridges.
Best Lead Actor: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. 2 more points for Kobe! Seriously though, whether you love or loathe British period pieces, you really need to see Colin Firth and his studder in this film. Colin’s acceptance speech curiously had the same pacing as this film, but despite this this award was well deserved and no big surprise.
Best Motion Picture: The King’s Speech. Strike THREE! Academy, Academy, Academy: you now have back to back years of flubs in the most important category. This film did not have the scope of Inception. It did not have the personal connections of The Fighter. It did not have the social commentaries of The Kids Are All Right. It did not have the innocence of Toy Story 3. It did not have the innovation of The Social Network. It did not have the seduction of Black Swan. It did not have the one man cast of 127 Hours. It did not have the solitude of Winter’s Bone. It did not have the colorful characters of True Grit.
BUT it did have the framework of the British period piece to which Americans are so eager to whip out the knee pads for. It did have superior acting performances by a cast of proven veterans. It did have severe pacing issues, highlighted by lulls in onscreen action. It did take a perfectly nice slice of life from pre-WWII Britain, unfortunately, that had little to do with the story itself.
In conclusion: this night was a wash.
ALL of the Academy’s misses involved The King’s Speech in categories where others were more deserving.
It wasn’t quite the disappointment that the complete and utter snubbing of Avatar was in 2009, but by no means does that give the Academy a pass.
You could gather a brain trust of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Orson Wells, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock - and if they were tasked to convince me of The King’s Speech and its superiority over every other film of 2010 -- then I would accuse them all of being men from mars because they clearly aren’t the filmmakers I thought them to be. The evidence is on the screen and I challenge anyone reading this, to pick Speech over any other nominee of 2010. Simply put, The King’s Speech is not the film everyone presumes it to be, but should I be so surprised considering this particular wrinkle in time? Prince William finally makes an honest woman of the twist he’s been getting his rocks off to for years and BP sh*t-cans the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a British revival baby! Prepare for a reunification tour with Paul and Ringo.