The awards season had its biggest night last night, with the Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Billy Crystal reprised his role as the evening’s host and The Artist took home most of the night’s statues. Find out what we thought made the evening most memorable.
The show opened with a introduction from Morgan Freeman welcoming the nine-time returning host Billy Crystal (who replaced originally scheduled host Eddie Murphy). We quickly find ourselves engrossed in a short film starring Billy Crystal, immersed in scenes from the night’s nine Best Picture contenders. This included a kiss between George Clooney and Crystal (in place of Clooney’s onscreen comatose wife in The Descendants) and a funny moment with Justin Beiber, who stares at Crystal for a few awkward moments, hoping to attract the young demographic for the night’s broadcast. It was definitely funny! As was Crystal’s traditional opening monologue and song-and-dance in which he took jabs at all nine films in one musical rendition.
Crystal even made a reference to a thinner middle on Jonah Hill. Despite being the butt of that joke, Hill got his moment to turn down actress Emma Stone when she asked him to hang out and dance on stage during her presenting shtick for Visual Effects later in the evening. So, even though he did not win his category for Best Supporting Actor (Moneyball), Hill is still the man!
The evening felt very ‘old-school’ with the return of Crystal and included a classic box office stage setup and girls in retro outfits passing out popcorn to the audience. There was even a quick tribute to a senior gentlemen in the audience, supposedly the oldest celebrity seat-filler in Oscar history. It was a very, ‘let’s go to the movies’ feel and I personally enjoyed it.
Other funny moments, included a segment in which Crystal read the minds of everyone in the audience…even the terrier puppy from The Artist and Angelina Jolie daydreaming about her next baby name! Speaking of baby-making, Angelina had crowds talking with her ultra-high cut black gown that showed more than just a little leg. Still, I thought she looked classy and sexy at the same time…fitting with the overall show! I mean, an Academy show that features the cast of Bridesmaids making penis jokes (and taking Scorsese shots) and a classic violinist has to find its balance somewhere.
Perhaps, that balance came best with the periodic actor testimonials shown throughout the show. Classic actors and new faces alike, giving their account of why they love to work in movies. It showed these stars as real people and I think the viewers at home enjoyed the connection. Featured actors included- Reese Witherspoon, Robert DeNiro, Brad Pitt, Hilary Swank, Tom Cruise, Helen Mirren, Julia Roberts, Barbara Streisand, Adam Sandler and Jonah Hill.
And how could I forget, our favorite romantic duo Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy made an appearance to introduce the live performance of the evening by Cirque du Soleil. Cast members from their show Iris (which calls the Kodak Theater home) put on a fantastic display of strength and acrobatics amongst the backdrop of film, including the airplane chasing Carey Grant in North by Northwest.
If there were any misses, for me it was the short film featuring a mock test group from the original Wizard of Oz. With an all-star cast, the jokes about flying monkeys and munchkins just fell flat to me, and I was glad to be in a time period where fast-forwarding on my Tivo exists!
All in all, despite concern in recent years about falling ratings and a mixed reaction to last year’s hosts (Anne Hathaway and James Franco), this year’s show drew 39.3 million viewers according to the Nielsen Ratings. But for me, the reason I tune in is to see the winners and their speeches. So without further adieu (kind of like how you have to watch three hours before you get to find out Best Picture) here were tonight’s big winners:
Best Picture went to The Artist and Producer Tom Langmann thanked the Academy, of course, and paid tribute to his idol, Oscar winner, Claude Berri. He said he was proud to be able to be Michel Hazanavicius’ producer. Then, Michael jumped in to tell his kids in Paris that it was 6 am there and to go to bed in 30 seconds! In a touching moment, he thanked his wife and the film’s female lead Berenice Bejo saying, “You inspired the movie and you’re the soul of the movie and the positive feeling of the movie. Thank you for being this in the movie and in my life”. Hazanavicius also won Best Director and found himself, like his silent film, momentarily speechless. “I have an Oscar. I have forgot my speech. Okay…I am the happiest director in the world right now.”
Best Actor went to an exuberant Jean Dujardin who tap danced at the end of his acceptance speech and combined English and French in his excitement, “Merci Beacoup. I love you!” He also thanked his inspiration, Douglas Fairbanks.
Octavia Spencer made the most emotional acceptance of the evening when taking home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress– breaking down in tears and even thanking “the world” when humbly trying to remember to thank everyone she could. She made a special thanks to her Help family, especially her friend Allison Janney for mentoring her during filming.
Christopher Plummer became the oldest recipient of an Oscar, Best Supporting Actor at age 82, “You’re only two years older than me darling, where have you been all my life?” he said to his statue. Then went on to say “I have a confession to make, when I first emerged from my mother’s womb, I was already rehearsing my Academy thank you speech. But it was so long ago, mercifully for you, I’ve forgotten it. But I haven’t forgotten who to thank.” A well deserved award. I guess all good things do come to those who wait. Plummer made for another touching spousal moment when he thanked “my long-suffering wife, Elaine, who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for coming to my rescue every day of my life.”
Meryl Streep took home the top female prize for Best Actress (her 17th nomination and 3rd win) joking that “when they called my name I’d had this feeling I could hear half of America going ‘oh no…oh c’mon…why her again?’ But whatever”. She then promptly thanked her husband first “because when you thank your husband at the end of the speech they play him out with the music and I want him to know that everything I value most in our lives you’ve given me”. She was also thrilled her longtime friend and make-up artist Roy Helland won for Best Makeup for his transformation of her character in The Iron Lady.
When asked backstage what it was like to win three Oscars (rivaling Katherine Hepburn who has four) Streep said that she read a poem yesterday and one of the lines jumped out- ‘It is strange to be here once as it is to return’. “So that’s true.”
The evening also included a nod to Oprah Winfrey (Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award), James Earl Jones, and Dick Smith who received honorary Oscars, as well as the In Memorium portion of the evening which honored those who have passed including Elizabeth Taylor and Whitney Houston.
Meryl Streep really summed up what everyone in the room was feeling best with this sentiment. “I want to thank- because I really understand I’ll never be up here again- I really want to thank all my colleagues, all my friends, I look out here and I see my life before my eyes, my old friends, my new friends and really this is such a great honor but the thing that counts the most with me is the friendships and the love and the sheer joy we have shared making movies together. My friends, thank you, all of you, departed and here for this inexplicably wonderful career.”
Never say never Meryl.
For a full list of awards winner, please visit 84th Academy Awards.