And so, just like everyone expected, The Artist was this year’s big winner. That inevitability didn’t stop me from hoping against hope for Hugo to pull an upset, especially after it swept a lot of the technical awards early on, but it just couldn’t do it. The charm offensive of Jean Dujardin and Uggie, the novelty and mystique of its silence, and the Weinstein machinery that stood behind it all throughout the awards season were just hurdles too tough to overcome.
The night really belonged to those two films, and thus this year’s ceremony was an ode to the legacy of the movies. And boy was it insufferable. All those cliches about the magic of cinema, how it captures dreams on celluloid and how it changed the lives of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities was the equivalent of an entire industry wanking itself. Even the resurrection of Billy Crystal’s hosting was a throwback which sadly didn’t work. Like Meryl, I too heard a collective groan from everyone watching — we get it, Hollywood. Now get over yourself.
Here’s my final word on the Best Pic race. If the Academy really wanted to honor the art of filmmaking, then it should’ve gone for Hugo. The Artist might be the more faithful adaptation of the aesthetic and panache of the era, but its homage is superficial. It depicts the film industry merely as a commercial enterprise that needs to evolve and discard the past in order to survive. I’m not saying that that’s not true, but it is Hugo which looks at the past with actual reverence beyond mere pastiche. Not only does it make the case for preservation, but it also recognizes its indebtedness to the cinematic heritage it belongs to. Instead of passively accepting the silent era’s obsolescence, it attempts to actually revive and not just borrow from it.
But as you know, I really was rooting for The Descendants even if it had no chance of winning. Sadly, a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar will have to do.
Going back to Meryl Streep, her win was one of the more exciting moments of the night. The awards pendulum swung between her and the magnificent Viola Davis, with the former winning the Golden Globe and the BAFTA and the latter winning the Critic’s Choice and SAG. Honestly, I wanted Viola Davis to win for a number of reasons – her race, the fact that The Help was a much better movie. But most of all, I wanted her to win simply because I thought she gave the better, more moving performance that, like Hugo, was beyond mere imitation. So when Meryl’s name was announced, I couldn’t help but feel sad for Viola. But then Meryl turned on her charm and did what she does best, and I thought she gave the best speech of the night. I wish she had gotten her third Oscar for a better movie, but in all honesty, she deserved it.
Don’t worry Viola – you is smart, you is kind, you is important. You’ll win your Oscar soon.
My other favorite moments include:
- A Separation rightfully winning Best Foreign Film
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo winning Best Editing, which marks Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter’s second Oscar in a row after winning for another Fincher film, The Social Network, last year
- Christopher Plummer’s classy Best Supporting Actor speech
Finally, I looked up War of the Gargantuas, the first movie that Brad Pitt claimed to have ever watched that he remembered with such fondness in one of the montages. It looks like a really campy, Japanese monster movie, and it makes me happy to know that like us, Brad Pitt is a film geek too.
How about you? Any highlights or lowlights? Anyway, that’s it for me in the 2011-2012 awards season. Can’t wait to reconvene with you guys in July to talk about movies again.