Just call her the giant slayer. Kathryn Bigelow and her modest little Iraq War drama The Hurt Locker beat out the behemoth box office champ Avatar for best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best editing, best sound editing, and best sound mixing. Bigelow made history, becoming the first female ever to win the award for directing.
James Cameron and company (Avatar) left with a total of three trophies: best visual effects, best art direction and best cinematography. The cinematography award seemed a little odd. After all, most of this film was computer generated, wasn’t it?
There were no real surprises in the acting categories. Best supporting actress went to Mo’nique for Precious, best supporting actor Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds, best actress was Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side, and Jeff Bridges finally won for Crazy Heart.
Up won best animated feature and best original score, while El Secreto do Sus Ojos (Argentina) won best foreign picture. The Cove won best documentary. For an expanded list of major category winners, scroll to the bottom of the article.
One “upset” so to speak was Mark Boal’s screenplay for The Hurt Locker winning over Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay for Inglourious Basterds. A lot of us thought this would be a bone the Academy would throw to Tarantino.
This year’s Academy Award show was oddly devoid of defining moments. It was a more subdued, emotional night than I remember in recent years. It was heavy on sentiment, from the moving tributes to the individual speeches. All in all, one of Oscar’s classier nights.
Neil Patrick Harris was a welcome surprise performing the opening song and dance number. The opening was originally intended to be a duet with Martin Short, but Harris had to fly solo at the last moment.
Eagerly anticipated co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were enjoyable. I wouldn’t say that they knocked it out of the park, but they had some good chemistry, and as they loosened up throughout the night, they appeared a little more natural. Some of the comedy was funny (damn vs. dame Helen Mirren, a Paranormal Activity spoof that had me rolling) while some fell flat (uncomfortable jokes about Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron, ongoing jokes about Meryl Streep.)
The Academy gave a rare nod to the horror genre with a montage. While I disagreed with some of the choices (Edward Scissorhands, Leprechan and New Moon) I appreciate that they made the effort.
Ben Stiller was mostly funny dressed as a Na’vi in full blue makeup to present best makeup award.
A very moving tribute to John Hughes featured some of the stars that he discovered and made household names, including Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Jon Cryer, and others. Anyone who grew up watching his movies would have been hard pressed to remain dry-eyed. Ditto for the “in memoriam” segment, which featured a montage while James Taylor sang live. Noticeably missing: Farrah Fawcett. Was it an oversight or a snub? She seemed pretty high profile to leave out of the segment.
There were several great, moving speeches, (Mo’nique, Jeff Bridges, Kathryn Bigelow) but Sandra Bullock gave the best speech of the evening. Even people who don’t care for her begrudgingly admitted that her speech was great. She was humble, funny, self-deprecating, gracious, and honest. Anybody catch that she said, “I KNOW that this is a once in a lifetime moment.” She was acknowledging that a lot of people didn’t think she should have been up there. It was dignified and gracious.
The Academy kept last year’s feature of bringing out five peers to talk individually about each candidate for best actress and best actor. I thought it worked, and gave the presentation a personal touch.
A few lows of the evening were Sean Penn presenting best actress award (what the heck was he talking about?) and sucking every bit of fun out of the moment. Also, the gum chompers. Sarah Jessica Parker was shown chomping on some gum, and Sam Worthington dared to chew while presenting an award. How tacky.
As for the fashions, there seem to be a few colors that are pervasive each year. This year, scarlet, grays, and metallics were belles of the ball. Penelope Cruz, Sigourney Weaver, Vera Farmiga, and Michelle Pfeiffer were resplendent in hues of red, while Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Elizabeth Banks, Sandra Bullock, Amanda Seyfried and Helen Mirren opted for the sparkle and shine.
Here is a partial list of winners. For a complete list, visit the official site of the Oscars.
Best Supporting Oscar Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress Mo’nique for Precious
Best Actor Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
Best Actress Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
Best Director Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Best Picture The Hurt Locker
Best Animated Film Up
Best Original Song “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart
Best Original Screenplay The Hurt Locker
Best Adapted Screenplay Precious
Outstanding Art Direction Avatar
Best Costume Design The Young Victoria
Best Cinematography Avatar
Best Documentary The Cove
Best Editing The Hurt Locker
Best Foreign Film El Secreto do Sus Ojos