The winners and missed opportunities of the 84th annual Academy Awards
Published: Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012 03:02
The night of the Academy Awards is typically one to celebrate glitz, glamour and all things cinema.
With the return of a reliable Academy Awards host in "When Harry Met Sally" star Billy Crystal, from expected winners to a few surprises, The Oracle recounts both the winners and the snubs of the 84th annual Academy Awards.
It's been said that the Best Director win is usually a good indicator of who will take the top award of the night with Best Picture, and this year's Academy Awards was no exception to the rule.
The cast and crew of "The Artist" swarmed the stage with a glorious display of emotion, which awarded an enjoyable comedy that paid homage to Hollywood's golden era. It's difficult to oppose a film that's so forthright in its jubilant nature, but "The Descendants" or "Hugo" should've won based on sheer craft and entertainment value.
While Martin Scorsese broke out of his comfort zone of crime dramas with the children's novel adaptation "Hugo," and fine filmmakers like Terrence Malick, Woody Allen and Alexander Payne marked their returns to the silver screen in 2011, it was a relative newcomer that swept the award right from underneath them all.
French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius took home Best Director for "The Artist," a technically complicated film about a silent film star who loses his fame amidst the advent of sound in motion picture. It's a tough category to choose from, but it feels like the films of Hazanavicius' experienced contemporaries will be more thoughtfully remembered in the long run.
From surprise nominations for "A Better Life" actor Demián Bichir and "The Artist" star Jean Dujardin, to a long-deserved nod for Gary Oldman in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," to finally movie stars Brad Pitt in "Moneyball" and George Clooney in "The Descendants," the best actor category was a packed one.
Another newcomer won the prize in the form of Dujardin, who smuggled a charming and vibrant personality into the silent role of movie star George Valentin. Yet it was surpassed by an outstanding performance by Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball" — a standout in a career of notable performances.
The Best Actress category was filled with mostly veteran actresses like Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and Glenn Close, with a bit of young talent in Michelle Williams and Rooney Mara thrown in for good measure.
Streep, who hasn't won an award since 1983 with "Sophie's Choice," mused on her many nominations as she stepped on stage to accept the award for portraying Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." Mara's performance in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" was far more engaging and ferocious, and Williams is a reliable young talent, but the Academy leaned towards the more experienced talent with this selection.
Best Supporting Actor:
There was strong competition in the Best Supporting Actor category, with past favorites like Kenneth Branagh, Max Von Sydow, Nick Nolte, as well as a newcomer in "Moneyball" actor Jonah Hill filling out the list of nominees.
As the oldest actor to ever take home an Academy Award at 82, "Beginners" star Christopher Plummer gave a gracious and thoughtful speech that paid tribute to his fellow nominees, "Beginners" cast and crew, and the Academy. Like a true gentleman, Plummer proved his win for playing an elderly man who reveals he's long kept his sexual orientation a secret in "Beginners" was well-deserved.
Best Supporting Actress:
In an emotional, tear-filled acceptance speech, "The Help" actress Octavia Spencer took Best Supporting Actress for the adaptation of Kathrynn Stockett's best-selling novel.
While Spencer fit in seamlessly amongst costars like Emma Stone and Viola Davis in this tale of African-American maids working throughout the civil rights movement, she certainly stood out as the most deserving amongst her fellow nominees, with only real competition stemming from Berenice Bejo's marvelous performance in "The Artist."
Best Adapted Screenplay:
For a category that awards the best screenplays based on existing works, there's still a strong list of talented screenwriters making these works their own in films like "Moneyball," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and "Hugo."