On the drive home from my Oscar party this evening I was reminded on the radio of a red carpet interview that Meg Tilly gave back in 1985. She had been nominated for Agnes of God and when asked what the nomination and/or win would do for her career, she said bluntly that she was more likely to be an answer to a Trivial Pursuit question. That is very much how the 82nd Academy Awards probably felt to a lot of viewers. While we can all rejoice in a new movie-themed edition of the board game that will ask "who was the first female to win a Best Director Oscar?", what else will we really remember? Will anyone beyond the Oscar reporters and prognosticators remember who won all the acting awards, who was snubbed and why we were all so angry during award season 2010? Maybe not, but in the moment we can take heart in David beating Goliath and vent some frustration away until we start this all over again.
In a glorious turn of events, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker exceeded even my expectations by winning six Oscars (over my predicted four). Mark Boal grabbing Original Screenplay early in the evening was a siren that Avatar might be in some trouble. But it was the sweep of the two "sound" Oscars away from Dances With Smurfs that signaled it was going to be a good night. Just not for James Cameron or Harvey Weinstein.
Notice anyone missing from the In Memorium montage? No, Patrick Swayze was in there. You just couldn't see him because some genius in the director's booth decided to go with a wide shot. At least the first two of the deceased could barely be made out on TV. But somewhere on the cutting room floor was Farrah Fawcett. She passed away the same day as Michael Jackson and yet the star of Captain EO and Thriller was honored while an iconic actress from Charlie's Angels, not to mention The Burning Bed, Extremities, and films directed by Robert Duvall and Robert Altman -- is forgotten. (And what of the great screenwriter Dan O'Bannon? --Scott)
BIGGEST UPSET OF THE NIGHT
Has to be Geoffrey Fletcher taking Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar away from Up In The Air. What happened there? We all figured Precious was winning its Oscar through Mo'Nique and this one was in the bag for Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner. Did all the talk about Turner's lack of contribution to the script finally catch up to it? Or did voters look at the titles and, being reminded that Precious was indeed "Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" said, well, that is clearly a "true" adaptation?
MOST MISMATCHED PRESENTERS
Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner introducing a montage about horror films? First off, calling Twilight horror is like calling Transformers a documentary. Second, why are the Oscars dedicating a chunk of time to a genre that they have never embraced as a serious competitor outside of The Exorcist and/or The Silence of the Lambs? Wasn't this the year of Science Fiction with Avatar, District 9 and Star Trek? Salute that if you must, but don't come out with a half-assed collection of the most obvious horror clips imaginable. Did anyone count more than one brief moment for John Carpenter and George Romero? No Argento, Bava or Stuart Gordon? No Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Fly or The Stepfather, but we saw Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands? I'm sorry, was this not the night of Kathryn Bigelow and you couldn't find room for one cut to Near Dark? I mean ... LEPRECHAUN was in there!
MOST PERFECTLY MATCHED PRESENTERS
Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper as the most boring leading men in modern film history. Throw Sam Worthington in there and you have a triple thick vanilla shake.
A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
Bet you never thought you would see a dance dedicated to IED's at the Oscars? Hey, stupid dancers, the film is called Up, not Robots. Get off the stage and back into Adam Shankman's fantasies.
Who was that broad who burst onto the stage after Music By Prudence won the Best Documentary Short Award. Why, that was Elinor Burkett, the film's producer. While the film's director, Roger Ross Williams, was talking about Zimbabwe and his wildest dreams, this Burkett interrupted him with the most uncouth of manners. Opening her commentary by saying "isn't this the classic thing" about how men never allow the women to talk. I'm sure I'm not the first to say that someone should have stuffed a gag in this idiot's mouth immediately and had her dragged off the stage by the fishing pole attached to Ben Stiller's Avatar tail. Our Elizabeth Rappe has the full details on the story.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THE PRODUCERS KNOW WHO IS GOING TO WIN?
When they invite someone to be the presenter of said category that has some form of connection to the eventual winner. Remember a few years back when Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola all presented the Best Director award? Who won? Their buddy, Martin Scorsese. Tonight, Danny Boyle was sidelined so they could trot out Barbara Streisand to present the award. The infamously-snubbed Babs was now about to hand over an Oscar to the first female director in history. Why wasn't the camera directly on Cameron to catch his reaction when Streisand first appeared? Classy move, Barbara, in asking Kathryn if you could keep the Oscar.
WOULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN GREAT?
If before the presentation of the Best Actress award, Sylvester Stallone came out to talk up Sandra Bullock about how great she was on the set of Demolition Man?
YES, I STILL LIKE SANDRA BULLOCK
I have certainly given her a hard time this season once all The Blind Side Oscar talk got serious. She won the razzie the night before for her performance in All About Steve and amusingly showed up to accept it. Even she appears to be a little humbled and maybe even embarrassed that she now has just one less Oscar than her "lover Meryl Streep." I can still just about count the positives in her career over the last decade on a hand, but I'm still rooting for the class act I fell in love with after Speed, While You Were Sleeping and, yes, Demolition Man.
YES, I WILL ALWAYS LOVE JEFF BRIDGES. BUT WILL THE ACADEMY?
Just as the Oscars might have jumped the gun on giving Russell Crowe the award for Gladiator instead of a year later for A Beautiful Mind (perhaps apologizing for snubbing him in The Insider), were they so eager to finally give Bridges a career achievement that they couldn't wait to see how he reinvents Rooster Cogburn in the Coen Bros.' remake of True Grit? Then again, they seem to love him as much as Tom Hanks. Could we be seeing a repeat? No complaints here.
WHO WOULDA THUNK IT?
That 17 years after the remake of The Vanishing that the guy playing the weirdo Barney and the victim of his kidnapping plot would win Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress on the same night?
WORST ROLE MODEL
While I'm sure it was difficult to find someone from Gabourey Sidibe's resume to talk about working with her, getting Oprah Winfrey was not too far of a stretch. After composer Michael Giacchino so wonderfully put his own spin on the "dreams can come true" speech by recounting the support he had in pursuit of his, along comes one of the leading spokespeople for women, African-Americans, people who can't think for themselves, you name it ...to tell us how Sidibe is now an Oscar winner because she skipped school to go to an audition. Kinda makes you wonder how many played hooky, didn't get the role, and ended up just like Precious.
TRUEST MOMENT OF THE NIGHT
Tyler Perry admitting that he will never win an Oscar.
WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM THE DIRECTOR OF BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE?
Once again managing to make Steve Martin tell lame jokes and facing the scorn of those who know he can do a lot better than work with Adam Shankman.
POETIC JUSTICE OF THE NIGHT
All the talk from Harvey Weinstein and James Cameron pleading with voters to throw Kathryn Bigelow a bone with the Best Director Oscar as long as they won Best Picture turned out to be just that. Talk. So let us celebrate The Hurt Locker as more than just a footnote in Oscar history, but as a brilliant military thriller crafted by a virtuoso filmmaker. Congratulations, Kathryn and to everyone involved in the film. You deserved it.