Last night's 84th Annual Academy awards broadcast seemed to have one, singular them in mind: the promotion and celebration of itself. Oh sure, that's the theme every year, but last night's show had seemingly endless montages of great moments in cinematic history, countless interviews with movie stars about their favorite movie moments, and a black-and-white silent film made as a love letter to Tinseltown won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor awards. It's safe to say that after the show, if nothing else, Hollywood does in fact love Hollywood.
Any Academy Awards show has good and bad moments, and we thought we'd like to point out three big winners and three big losers from last night's show.
The Big Winners!
Christopher Plummer - At 82-years-old, Plummer was one of the most veteran of the nominees last night. For decades, Plummer has consistently turned out brilliant performance after brilliant performance, but never to the tune of Oscar gold. That all changed last night when he won the Best Supporting Actor award for his work opposite Ewan McGregor in "Beginners." Ever a symbol of class from a bygone era, Plummer's acceptance speech was humorous, sentimental and respectful of his fellow nominees.
Meryl Streep - Though she's been nominated a record seventeen times for her acting performances for the last 35 years, Streep had only won two Oscars in her previous sixteen nominations. Last night, she won again for her portrayal of controversial British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. As is her usual tone, Meryl showed genuine humility and respect for her fellow nominees in their work, and let herself get caught up in the emotion of the win without seeming forced or over the top.
"The Artist" - On a night when Hollywood seemed to really want to write a love letter to itself, it would make sense that the most decorated film of the night would end up being a movie about movies. It was only the second silent film in the history of the awards to take home an Oscar for Best Picture. All told, the film won five of the big awards of the night, while "Hugo" took home a large number of the awards given for technical achievements.
The Big Losers!
Billy Crystal -Billy! We wanted to root for you. We really did. But from the insane choice to dress up in black face to impersonate Sammy Davis, Jr. to the clunky-feeling musical intro, nothing about Crystal's performance as the emcee of the evening's festivities seemed to really work. He had flashes of brilliance, but ultimately, he seemed flat and dated. Of course, this is not to say we'd like the producers of the show to ask James Franco or Anne Hathaway back, even a flat Billy is better than a clueless Franco or trying-too-hard Hathaway.
Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow - Yikes. Seriously, Robert and Gwyneth's introduction of the Best Documentary award was scary bad. Both actors are known and respected in the business as being quite good, but no one could tell from their sad attempt at humor with Downey bringing out a film crew that got "too close" to Paltrow, sparking a faux-fight between the two stars. The groan-inducing bit thankfully only lasted as long as it took the pair to get to announcing the names of the nominees, but not before the show was ground to almost a complete halt.
PIxar - For seemingly the last twenty years, the computer-animation juggernaut had the run of the place. If they put out a film in that previous year, they could count on it winning Best Animated Feature and getting a Best Picture nomination. This year though, their big theatrical release ("Cars 2") didn't get any recognition, and their short, "La Luna," lost in the category it was nominated for. The question is whether or not this signals a changing of the guard in animated films, or if this is a one time fluke, and Pixar will be back on its feet next year.
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- Christopher Plummer