A Reaction To The 83rd Academy Awards

So last night’s Oscars. Predictable, boring and often wrong. Those should be the words tripping off people’s tongues this morning, because that’s how it went. Let’s deal with the elephant in the room first, and let’s bear in mind I’m British, right.

The King’s Speech took the major awards: Best Picture, Director, Actor and Original Screenplay, and let’s not be coy, of those four. It deserved one. And that was for Colin Firth. The Social Network and David Fincher were robbed. I was pretty much over the fact that the rightful winner and the best film of the year was going to lose out on Best Picture to The King’s Speech, what I wasn’t prepared for was the fact Fincher would be royally snubbed by Tom Hooper for the director prize. And I’m sorry, Fincher should have won. Both films are incredibly talky and set mainly inside rooms but it is only Fincher who managed to take that formula and catapult into the world of the cinema and take risks visually, with the story and make the Sorkin script cinematic.

Hooper plays it safe, there is no risk and it is a classically constructed story that isn’t spectacularly directed, it is elevated by great performances. And I also find it interesting that in a year in which the Oscars was all about celebrating the new, fresh and bringing a younger audience to the Oscars audience, you award the top prizes to the traditional, actually conservative film about old English monarchs, which is bringing old folks into the cinema and ignore the hip, cool and contemporary film of our times. It’s just wrong on every conceivable level. From this point on expect to see more off composed close ups appearing in British film.

As Katherine Hepburn said people award Oscars to the right people but for the wrong movies, Tom Hooper is a good director but The King’s Speech isn’t a better film than The Damned United, his previous work. Also look at his work on TV and you will see his talent for camera composition and character as well as storytelling, but Fincher is better, and proved this with The Social Network. I also think it’s fascinating that the BAFTA’s award Fincher for Best Director but give it to the Brit at the Oscars. Reminded of the year when Joel Coen won Best Director for Fargo at the BAFTAs but lost out at the Oscars to Anthony Minghella for The English Patient. Despite the fact I’m being quite damning towards Britain’s favourite movie of the year, our voters are clearly more discerning than the Academy’s.

To continue with the theme of right people, wrong year. Colin Firth. Definitely deserving of the Oscar for The King’s Speech and his performance was excellent, definitely the most riveting among the nominees. However, in his speech he thanked Tom Ford, the director of A Single Man, which Firth was nominated for prior to this, and if the world was perfect he would have won then, because his performance there is even more extraordinary.

In other places during the night, the awards were very deserved but predictable. Natalie Portman picked up Best Actress for Black Swan and very deserved her win was too, that is a brave and powerful performance and the kind that the Academy doesn’t usually reward, a very psycho-sexual performance which contrasts to the usual “soccer moms” (The Blind Side or Erin Brockovich) or real life figures (Walk the Line or La Vie En Rose) of recent years. It’s good to see such a great, genre movie like that receiving top awards attention.

Also it was wonderful to see the fabulous Melissa Leo not only win very deservedly for her magnificent performance in The Fighter, easily the best in the film and is the best part of the film, but also for unleashing the brilliant line. “I saw [someone] do this last year and she made it look so fucking easy” and having it pass uncensored. I think if there is one award I was happiest to see tonight, it was her win. Also in Supporting Actor and also for The Fighter, Christian Bale won. It was inevitable and deserved, but it is a very warts and all performance, the kind which the Best Supporting Actor Oscar category loves, when people go over the top. I just wish that Geoffrey Rush would have won. Him or John Hawkes.

My favourite The Social Network, did pick up three for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and of course to Aaron Sorkin for Best Adapted Screenplay, I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. I’m just gutted it didn’t take Best Picture or Best Director, but as Michael De Luca says:

We released the movie at the time we felt it was most appropriate, and it performed beyond out expectations. Maybe it wasn’t pleasing as The King’s Speech to Oscar voters. And historically there is a disconnect between the critics and those voters. But the emotional complexity is what I love about The Social Network. I did take comfort in Steven Spielberg’s reminder of the great films that didn’t win Best Picture.

That’s true. The Social Network does now join: Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Saving Private Ryan, Citizen Kane, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Shawshank Redemption, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, Network, To Kill a Mockingbird and others. While The King’s Speech joins Driving Miss Daisy, Crash, Chariots of Fire, Chicago, Out of Africa, How Green Was My Valley, Around the World in 80 Days and Braveheart. I know which list I’d rather be a part of.

Inception tied for the most wins with 4. Of course mostly for technicals: Best Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects. Despite being royally snubbed for Best Director, I was really hoping for Christopher Nolan to receive a Best Original Screenplay as a consolation prize but no. Also winners were Alice in Wonderland, which is wholly terrible, but won for Art Direction and Costume Design, but I guess you can’t gross a $1 billion and not receive notification from the Academy. But to really assess how thoughtless the awards were this evening, The Wolfman is now an Oscar winning film, wonder if the Academy is proud of that fact.

As for the show itself. It was one of the most boring things I have ever watched in a very long time. By the point we were 90 minutes in, I thought it had gone on for around double that. The set which had scenic transitions from Gone With the Wind to The Wizard of Oz to Lord of the Rings were totally naff, the only exciting part for me was the microphone which rose from the floor when great people approached it. There was also a thoroughly GHASTLY section in which there was an auto-tuned musical dubstep mix up of lines from some of the nominees. It also ended with the children from the Village of the Damned singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow that looked like something out of America’s Got Talent, if the boring ceremony didn’t want to me swallow the barrels of a shotgun up till that point that certainly pushed me over the edge.

The acceptance speeches were pretty dull, with the exception of Melissa Leo who dragged it out to her heart’s content and Randy Newman sticking it to the man when he won for Best Original Song, with the balliest awards speech. Outwardly criticising how the awards are carried out, most bravely the producer on the whole speech front and also the sham that the original song category is, particularly the presence of only four nominees. Also insanely embarrassing to have Kirk Douglas out to award Best Supporting Actress, which did push me to shout “GET THE FUCK ON WITH IT” at the TV, the man can barely string a sentence together and looked like he’d just been fished out of the pickling jar.

But what about the hosts? Hathaway and Franco! Young, hip! Flat as a pancake. If religious creationists wanted to prove that there chemistry doesn’t exist they would have to look no further than Franco and Hathaway. Bless her, Anne did try her hardest and deserved better than Franco who had about as much charisma as a spoon. He looked stoned. And all through the night great people were brought out, all of which would have done a better job: Kevin Spacey, Robert Downey Jr, Billy Crystal, even the terrible holographic recreation of Bob Hope would have provided a better host than those two. It was flat and a total failure. Bruce Cohen, Don Mischer. Sorry guys. Bad night. Predictable winners. Wrong decisions. Worst Academy Awards for a long time.