Monday, March 8, 2010

Recap of the 2010 Academy Awards

It wasn't as enjoyable as last year's ceremony in my opinion, but the 2010 Oscars will nevertheless have a firm place in history. Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win Best Director, while her film, The Hurt Locker, also took home Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, and both sound categories. With six total wins, it was far and away the evening's big winner, with James Cameron's Avatar scoring a consolation prize with a modest three victories. Precious, Up, and Crazy Heart all took home two each. I ended up a decent 17/24 on my predictions and, like a lot of people, took a beating with the short films.


Contrary to popular belief, I thought that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin did a fine job hosting the ceremony. In an article he wrote for the Huffington Post, Baldwin stated that, "Steve Martin and I worked rather hard, along with the writers and producers, to make sure our contribution did not detract from the primary purpose of the evening, honoring the highest achievements in film. We tell some jokes and show some clips, but the night belongs to the great talent in that room." I'm glad to hear Baldwin say that because I thought that's exactly what they did. They had several solid jokes along the way -- most notably, the Paranormal Activity spoof -- and by night's end, I would've loved to have seen more of them.


The evening's big shocker, and certainly one of the biggest shockers in recent years, was Geoffrey Fletcher's win in the Adapted Screenplay category for Precious. Of course, Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner were the perceived favorites for Up in the Air, but the film failed to capitalize in each of its six nominated categories. Contributing to the evening's historic impact is the fact that Fletcher is the first African American to win a screenplay category. Fletcher was evidently as surprised as we were by his victory, starting his speech with, "I don't know what to say," and ending it with, "I'm sorry I'm drawing a blank right now." His feelings were genuine nevertheless, and he still managed to carry the film's lasting message by dedicating his award to "precious boys and girls everywhere."


In a very personal category for me, Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett won Best Original Song for "The Weary Kind," which is, simply put, one of the great cinematic achievements of 2009 in my eyes. I'm not sure I've ever seen a better use of an original song in a film. The lyrics manage to be both resonant and relevant, and Bingham's 28-year-old voice somehow sounds as if he actually is a broken down boozer. Among many others, Ryan thanked his wife by saying, "I love you more than rainbows, baby." That's the songwriter in him. It's a shame we didn't get to hear T Bone speak at all, but in a way, it almost contributes to his persona.


I also really enjoyed Michael Giacchino's onstage speech. Giacchino won Best Original Score for his beautiful work in the film Up. After describing a childhood in which the people around him greatly encouraged his created endeavors, he had this to say to the less fortunate: "I know there are kids out there that don't have that support system so if you're out there listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it. It's not a waste of time. Do it." That was certainly one of the more inspirational moments of the evening for me, and I appreciate the fact that Giacchino took his stage time to try and communicate something significant to the viewing audience at home. Well done.


The supporting acting categories ended up being the slam dunk we all thought it would be. After being presented his award by Penelope Cruz, Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) drew a few laughs by saying, "Oscar and Penélope that's an über bingo." On the female side of things, Mo'Nique took home an über-deserved Oscar for her supporting role in Precious. In another one of the evening highlights, after months of refusing to campaign for her performance, Mo'Nique had this to say about the voters: "First, I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics." For any movie fan out there, it's got to feel good to hear someone say that.


Following the same path of slam dunks, big-time favorites Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) and Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) took home Oscars. As usual, the widely-adored Bridges started off by thanking his parents "for turning [him] on to such a groovy profession," and ended by thanking his "gorgeous wife, Sue." Bullock was also terrific behind the microphone, individually acknowledging each of her fellow nominees. Perhaps the best moment of her speech was when she turned to Carey Mulligan (The Hurt Locker) and said, "Carey, your grace and your elegance and your beauty and your talent makes me sick."


All in all, it wasn't a terrible evening, although it certainly could have been better. Some of my favorite segments were the individual clips from each of the ten Best Picture nominees, as well as the extended clips from the supporting acting categories. For the leading categories, they decided to go with an individual speech for each of the nominees, and while it was endearing at times, it stretched the running time out even more, and just caused unnecessary incongruity in my opinion. The dance numbers for each of the Original Score nominees was also distasteful, as was Neil Patrick Harris' surprise opening number.


For all the complaints I (and many others) had about last night's awards, the ratings did indeed improve from last year, so the producing team obviously on the right track. I would be stunned if the ten Best Picture nominees isn't continued for a least three or four years to come.


That's all I have. Feel free to share your reactions to the show below. If there's one thing you can do to prepare for the upcoming awards season, it would be to read Kris Tapley's extensive list of contenders for the upcoming year in film. There's a lot of films to get excited about.


Here is the full list of winners from the 2010 Academy Awards:


BEST PICTURE: The Hurt Locker
BEST ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
BEST ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo'Nique, Precious
BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
BEST ANIMATED FILM: Up
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Avatar (Mauro Fiore)
BEST ART DIRECTION: Avatar (Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, and Kim Sinclair)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: The Young Victoria (Sandy Powell)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Cove
BEST FOREIGN FILM: El Secreto De Sus Ojos
BEST FILM EDITINGThe Hurt Locker (Bob Murawski, Chris Innis)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Up (Michael Giacchino)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart (Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett)
BEST SOUND EDITING: The Hurt Locker (Paul N.J. Ottosson)
BEST SOUND MIXING: The Hurt Locker (Paul N.J. Ottosson, Ray Beckett)
BEST MAKEUPStar Trek (Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, Joel Harlow)
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Avatar (Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andrew R. Jones)
BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED): Logorama
BEST SHORT FILM (DOCUMENTARY): Music by Prudence
BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION): The New Tenants

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