“Whether we are seeing a film that is live action or animated, black and white or in color, with sound or silent — all of us are mesmerized by the magic of the movies” — or so said Morgan Freeman during the cold open of Hollywood’s biggest night.
For the 84th annual Academy Awards, Billy Crystal returned in his ninth hosting gig equipped with his usual arsenal of witty one-liners and past-prime references. On the Oscar stage for the first time in 8 years, Crystal held his own after replacing dropout Eddie Murphy, opening with a predictable parody montage of the year’s nominees and a brief musical number saluting honorees like Martin Scorsese and George Clooney.
The show’s design took a classic Hollywood approach, turning the no-longer-Kodak Theater into a golden-age cinema complete with snack attendants in teal uniforms and an Oscar’s marquee that made appearances on set throughout the evening. Topping off the theme was an old-timey Cirque du Soleil performance wherein the acrobats wore tuxedos and evening gowns.
Similar to the nominated films, the ceremony was perhaps not–to use Freeman’s word–mesmerizing, but littered with some decent showings, mainly from comedy’s biggest stars. A charming Emma Stone dazzled as she presented her first ever award while towering over Ben Stiller, cracking jokes about cliché presenting techniques. Funnymen Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis entered the stage from the orchestra pit crashing cymbals in Brad and Angelina’s front row faces before presenting the musical awards. These moments proved to be endearing and added a nice contrast to Crystal’s dry humor.
Though the ceremony kept its momentum by introducing award after award, it was maybe a bit, well, boring. It calls viewers to remember past years where musical performance dominated the show such as 2008’s show where all five “Best Song” nominees were performed by the likes of Amy Adams, Kristin Chenoweth and show stealers Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova with the winning number “Falling Slowly” from Once. The previous year, the cast of Dreamgirls performed a medley from the hit movie musical that skyrocketed Jennifer Hudson to both a win that night and superstardom. Such heavy-hitting performances were sorely missed.
But where were all the really big film celebs? The star power of Brangelina wore off quickly after being featured something like a hundred times during others’ speeches. From the Hathaways and Winslets to the Di Caprios and Goslings — some recent favorites were all missing from film’s night out. Maybe it had something to do with not being nominated. Poor fellas.
Not unpredictably, Hugo and The Artist took home the most awards- five a piece. The Artist secured 3 out of “the big four” — Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture. Meryl Streep was handed the golden statue for her leading performance in The Iron Lady. Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer rounded out the Supporting categories for their work in Beginners and The Help.
In short, the awards were well deserved and the ceremony- not even just a little bit surprising.