Note: I went 16/24 on my predictions.
Sunday night’s Academy Awards ran just a hair over three hours, and that was one of the evening’s few pleasant surprises. Others included Billy Crystal, whose brief commemoration of Bob Hope was one of the few occasions that provoked actual energy from the audience, and a couple of fantastically self-deprecating speeches from two unlikely sources: David Seidler (Best Original Screenplay for The King’s Speech) and Randy Newman (Best Original Song for Toy Story 3). Seidler’s opening quip — “My father always said to me, I would be a late bloomer” — was probably the line of the night.
Most of the proceedings, however, were marred by the lifeless pairing of co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway. The latter certainly brought her utmost effort to the event, even poking fun at her own work in Love and Other Drugs during an opening monologue, but her over-the-top enthusiasm did little to overshadow the snoozy performance turned in by Franco.
It’s tough to argue that a more energetic Franco could have saved the evening — after all, most of the hosts’ comedic work was done in a recorded opening montage — but rarely has the actor, nominated himself for 127 Hours, shown such a lack of passion for the art form. Maybe it’s disdain towards the Academy, or maybe he was never totally on board with the hosting job in the first place, but something was definitely not sitting right with Franco last night; and it showed.
Yet despite the trouble’s in the broadcast’s production, the slate of winners was surprisingly diverse. Wally Pfister’s (Inception) upset win for Best Cinematography — the favorite was no doubt the winless Roger Deakins (True Grit) — infused the night with an unpredictable quality right from the get-go, which was reinforced by The King’s Speech‘s lack of victories in the crafts categories, as well as The Social Network‘s victories in Best Editing and Best Original Score. The Best Picture suspense was more or less ended, though, when David Fincher’s name wasn’t called.
In terms of the speeches, the aforementioned duo of Seidler and Newman were the self-deprecating highlights. Best Actor Colin Firth and Best Director Tom Hooper also represented The King’s Speech well at the microphone. Christian Bale gave yet another honest, down-to-earth monologue, and Luke Matheny, the man behind God of Love, proved to be something of an energy boost during his acceptance for Best Live Action Short.
All in all, it was a ceremony that will likely be forgotten or, more cynically, remembered for its complete lack of engagement, even in comparison to the ceremonies of recent years. The 2010-2011 awards season was, however, more unpredictable than those of years past, which is a welcome change. There weren’t any complete shockers — a la Up in the Air‘s shutout last year — but that didn’t keep the battle between The King’s Speech and The Social Network from providing sufficient intrigue in the weeks and months leading up to the ceremony.
In my book, they’re both deserving films that will be remembered fondly. It’s easy to say now that The Social Network will be commemorated more in decades to come, simply because of its current cultural significance and Fincher’s celestial presence within the industry. But there’s no doubting the merits of The King’s Speech, as well as the fact that it has connected with just as many viewers as its adversary.
The full list of winners can be found below.
Best Picture: The King’s Speech
Best Director: Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
Best Actress: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Best Original Screenplay: The King’s Speech (David Seidler)
Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
Best Cinematography: Inception
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Film Editing: The Social Network
Best Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Original Score: The Social Network
Best Original Song: “We Belong Together” (Toy Story 3)
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Inception
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World
Best Documentary Feature: Inside Job
Best Documentary Short: Strangers No More
Best Animated Short: The Lost Thing
Best Live Action Short: God of Love