Well it's over. We can finally close the book on 2011. Here are my thoughts on this year's Academy Awards:
In general, they did everything wrong this year. It was way too safe. There seemed to be something wrong with the audio; It was muffled and had an echo. The show ran long. And for some bizarre reason they presented all the boring awards first and let the boring speeches drone on, which leaves less time for those that we actually care about. (Did the band have the night off?) I have long believed they should just give out the 'boring' awards that no one cares about at a separate event and just give them quick mentions. Will they ever learn? As expected, the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards were much more fun to watch.
But let's start at the beginning:
We all love Morgan Freeman. But why open the show with him rather than host Billy Crystal? That was almost as bizarre as Freeman's casual wink to someone in the audience. Does he not realize this is a formal event and one of the most watched TV program worldwide?
I love Billy Crystal. I think he's the best host in the history of the Oscars and this was his ninth time. Yet this year he seemed a bit too safe, although he did loosen up as the night progressed. But his unassuming, uncontroversial style is probably right for the most prestigious and elegant night in Hollywood. Ricky Gervais-type cheekiness just wouldn't be appropriate.
Two years in a row good, but not the best film won Best Picture. Don't get me wrong, both The Artist and The King's Speech are very good movies, and I immediately knew when I saw each one at the Toronto Film Festival they would be strong contenders for Best Picture. But there were many better films.
The biggest surprises of the night were the Best Actor and Best Actress awards. George Clooney and Viola Davis were robbed. I really think Academy voters awarded Streep the prize before they even saw her movie. I saw it. She was good. Davis was great. And Clooney (and Pitt and Oldman) were way better than Dujardin.
Hugo received way too many technical awards. And Harry Potter received none. Outrageous.
My Best Presenter awards go to Robert Downey Jr., Chris Rock, Emma Stone, Will Ferrell, and Zach Galifianakis. Thank you all for adding a few minutes of entertainment to an otherwise dull three plus hours.
My Best Acceptance Speech award goes to Christopher Plummer. At 82, that guy's still pretty with it. If you haven't seen 'Beginners' yet, you should.
The movie montage consisted of very safe entries like 'Forrest Gump', 'Titanic', 'A Few Good Men', and 'When Harry Met Sally'. What's the point?
The interview montage of A-list celebrities' first experiences at the movies and their opinions of what makes a good movie was a nice idea but too short, and with too little substance. And why the hell would they ask Adam Sandler what makes a good movie? Clearly he doesn't know the answer.
The Wizard of Oz focus group sketch with the Christopher Guest troupe was alright but unnecessary. If Guest hadn't been a pal of Crystal from the old SNL days, it would've been cut, for sure.
They decided to incorporate the Cirque Du Soleil acts that normally occupy that theater. Two swinging Cary Grant impersonators? Bizarre. I actually saw the Cirque show when I was in L.A. It's not fantastic, but it's obviously better in person than watching it on TV. At an already-too-long awards show this was just unnecessary.
The 'what's everybody thinking' bit was humorous. I was kind of hoping Crystal would reference Nick Nolte's mug shot.
When the President of the Academy takes the stage it's always the right time to go to the bathroom.
I must reiterate what I said last year. Who the heck cares about the short films?!? Very few people have seen them. Even I tend not to because they're rarely very good. This year I saw the animated shorts and they were very unmemorable.
Meryl Streep presented honorary awards to James Earl Jones, Dick Smith (a makeup guy), and Oprah Winfrey. Bizarrely random!
I generally find the In Memorium segment touching, but it wasn't as effective this year. They really need to show longer clips of the more notable folks' work.
And now, if you care, the award winners and presenters, in the order they were presented:
Cinematography: Tom Hanks presented the award to Hugo. I blew that one. I'm not off to a good start.
Art Direction: Tom Hanks presented the award to Hugo. Got that one, but I wish Harry Potter had taken it.
Costume Design: Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez presented the award to The Artist. Got that one.
Makeup: Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez presented the award to The Iron Lady. Missed that one. Poor Harry Potter just got the shaft.
Foreign Language Film: Sandra Bullock presented the award to A Separation. No surprise there.
Supporting Actress: Christian Bale (who really should invest in a white shirt) presented the award to Octavia Spencer of The Help. No surprise there.
Editing: Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper presented the award to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Missed that one.
Sound Editing: Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper presented the award to Hugo. I should have listened to Entertainment Weekly.
Sound Mixing: Tina Fey and Bradley Cooper presented the award to Hugo. Again, I should have listened to Entertainment Weekly.
Best Documentary: Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. presented the award to Undefeated. Missed that one.
Animated Feature: Chris Rock presented the award to Rango. Got it.
Visual Effects: Emma Stone and Ben Stiller presented the award to Hugo. Once again Harry Potter got the shaft and Hugo gets undeservingly awarded.
Supporting Actor: Melissa Leo presented the award to Christopher Plummer for Beginners. No surprise there.
Score: Penelope Cruz and Owen Wilson presented the award to The Artist. Got that one.
Song: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis presented the award to Man or Muppet from The Muppets. With only two nominees (which was bizarre), this was a pretty easy call.
Adapted Screenplay: Angelina Jolie presented the award to Alexander Payne for The Descendants. Called that one.
Original Screenplay: Angelina Jolie presented the award to Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. That was the favorite.
Live Action Short: Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph presented the award to The Shore.
Documentary Short: Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy presented the award to Saving Face.
Animated Short: Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey presented the award to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
Director: Michael Douglas presented the award to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist.
Actor: Natalie Portman presented the award to Jean Dujardin. Outrageous. The biggest upset of the night. Both Clooney and Pitt were robbed.
Actress: Colin Firth presented the award to Meryl Streep. Again, outrageous. Viola Davis was robbed.
Picture: Tom Cruise presented the award to The Artist, as expected.
OK, so my predictions weren't great this year. I missed two major awards, Actor and Actress, a bunch of the technical awards, Cinematography, Makeup, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects, as well as the Documentary. Not great, I admit.
So was I too critical and too long winded? Let's hear your thoughts.
I'm tired. Good night and farewell, 2011 movies.