Well, the red carpets have been rolled up and sent to the cleaners, and James Cameron has gone home to count his money…without a Best Director or Picture statue. Avatar did pick up Art Direction, Visual Effects and Cinematography, which seems odd given the film’s largely-CGI environs.
No, it was Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker taking Original Script, Director and Picture, along with Sound Editing & Mixing and Film Editing. Six wins for one of 2009’s best films, and a fitting end to an awkward season of pre-Oscar curiosity over the addition of five more picture nominees. It didn’t amount to much more than the opportunity for Tom Hanks to say “ten great films” without laughing.
Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, a personal favorite both for 2009 and for the Oscar race, was largely overlooked, though Supporting Actor favorite Christoph Waltz walked away with that award. The actor gave a touching and devoted speech that got the night rolling.
But the Oscars broadcast is simply an award show that cannot win. They try continually to change things, try to make it leaner and smarter, but this year’s show was top-heavy with maudlin accolades. A death reel left out numerous prominent actors, instead providing several behind-the-scenes types unknown to most audiences. And unnecessary filler once again expanded the show far past necessity.
There were few suprises for many of the acting awards. Waltz, of course. Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) and Monique (Precious) took home the expected wins for Best Actor and Supporting Actress, respectively. Best Actress went to Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side). While Bullock was gracious and lovely, it seems doubtful anyone would have argued Meryl Streep’s nominated performance wasn’t a higher caliber.
The Cove deservingly took the award for Best Documentary, but the Foreign-Language Film prize, which seemed poised to go to either The White Ribbon or A Prophet, ended up with Argentina’s El Secreto de Sus Ojos.
As for the logistical stuff, co-hosts Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were quite funny, but after an extended opening segment got little to do. Only a few speeches were cut short, and only one truly strange gaff took place when the Documentary Short winner was interrupted by a woman (one of the producers? a crazed fan? this was unclear…) and he seemed suitably miffed that his moment to shine had been cut short.
And the actors lauding nominees format that seemed genuine and engaging last year when it was introduced seemed more often a heavy-handed lovefest, which turned the show into a snoozefest.
Still, the scene of a stunned Bigelow and the other Hurt Locker producers, some of the cast proudly standing behind them, accepting Best Picture awards was a very nice moment to end on. Now we move forward to see what will be deserving this time next year.