By our guest blogger, Joe Oliveto
Last night marked the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, and for those of us sitting at home, it was a fairly tiresome affair. Although James Franco can pull off comedy and Anne Hathaway is a generally skilled actress, the two of them were not entertaining during the evening. Hathaway overdid it, and Franco looked like he’d just come back from a Grateful Dead concert.
Maybe Ricky Gervais can take over this gig, too.
Although none of the winners were particularly shocking, this was a year in which some categories were still open for debate. We knew that Colin Firth was going to take home the trophy for Best Actor, but there was still a chance that “The Social Network” would steal the Best Picture award away from “The King’s Speech.” Alas, it was not to be.
Depending on what kind of person you are, you may have at least been pleased with the even spread of awards over the course of the evening. It wasn’t a year where a big film like “Titanic” came along and claimed all of the major honors. “The Social Network” earned almost its fair share, taking home awards for Editing, Original Score and Adapted Screenplay.
“Inception” got the well-deserved technical awards. The Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories may have meant very little to the average viewer, but the Visual Effects award is significant. In an age where most filmmakers assume that visual effects ought to be computer generated, Christopher Nolan had the intelligence to incorporate practical effects that were legitimately more impressive than any of the CGI wizardry in a “Transformers” picture. Hopefully more directors take note.
It was a little surprising to see that Nolan didn’t win for Best Original Screenplay, although it’s difficult to insist that he was robbed. True, the concept itself was, well, original, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another script this year that required as much attention and rigorous revision, but it suffered from expository dialogue and a general lack of humor. “The King’s Speech” may truly have deserved this award, depending on how you judge a film’s script.
“The Fighter” earned awards in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Actor in a Supporting Role categories. Melissa Leo’s enthusiastic profanity was a highlight of the evening, and it is good to see Christian Bale get the kind of respect that fans have been showering him with for years now.
As was mentioned before, Colin Firth won for Best Actor, but he may have deserved it. Playing a character with a pronounced disability may indeed be the quickest way to an Oscar—“Tropic Thunder” was pretty insightful in its explanation of the “full retard” problem—but Firth has always been a skilled artist who brought genuine sensitivity to his role. Then again, so did Jesse Eisenberg, but his part was the kind that doesn’t allow its actor to show off as much. Jeff Bridges was good, but he always is.
Another obvious choice was Natalie Portman for “Black Swan.” We all saw that coming, but to her credit, Portman pretended to be genuinely surprised during her acceptance speech.
Oscars Bore Viewers, Winners are Predictable
Now, Best Directing. Did Tom Hooper deserve it? Maybe. But in a relatively short period of time, David Fincher has already established himself as a legend. Maybe he’ll be someone like Kubrick—a master of his craft who never takes home this particular award. He did a remarkable job with “The Social Network” and should be proud of his achievement.
In fact, everyone did a remarkable job on “The Social Network,” and while time will tell if this becomes another year that we look back on the way we do when we reference “Dances With Wolves” beating “GoodFellas,” it had tough competition. True, “The King’s Speech” is pure Oscar-bait, but it’s also good Oscar-bait. Strong performances throughout and an emotionally engaging story assure that it is a quality film.
And in the end, what is more important--winning an Oscar, or being remembered? Nolan fanboys may be upset over the fact that “Inception” never had a chance, but out of the ten nominees, it is the only one that is guaranteed to go down in history as a cinematic classic. It wasn’t the best film of the year, but it was a sci-fi milestone.
Will “The Social Network” endure, or does it owe its popularity to the zeitgeist? It’s a tough call. But, like Spielberg reminded us before opening the envelope, “Citizen Kane” and “Raging Bull” never won Best Picture. And we still kind of like them, anyway.