84th Academy Awards -- The Winners and Losers

Billy Crstyal’s return to hosting duties at the Oscars reminded me a lot of the Oscar party I went to at local Point Loma artist Leslie Perlis’ house.

At previous parties, I could make the crowd laugh. One year I pestered everybody that walked in to tell us “who they were wearing?”

This year, I had DVDs I was going to give away with trivia questions about the nominees. I had written “No” on one hand and “Yes” on the other hand, for when folks shouted out their guesses. The problem was, only one person had seen the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Max Van Sydow’s character doesn’t speak, but has those words printed on his hands).

The next problem I had was that nobody knew the answers to my fun trivia questions. I asked if anybody knew the other movie Meryl Streep did with the word “Iron” in the title (this year it was Iron Lady, but in 1987 it was Ironweed with Jack Nicholson). Nobody knew it.

Crystal had a few jokes that were cute, and it’s always fun when he inserts himself into the films. It was even more fun this year, using the actual stars to re-film certain ones, so Clooney could actually plant one on him in the hospital bed.

The Justin Bieber Midnight in Paris segment was great.

Something about Crystal just didn’t work. And this is coming from a guy who didn’t mind when David Letterman hosted.

He had one of the best comedic writers in the business behind the scenes (Carol Leifer, a terrific stand-up and writer from Seinfeld). Maybe I got spoiled from Ricky Gervais throwing barbs at folks on other awards shows. It just seemed Crystal didn’t mix it up enough with the presenters and winners, or folks in the crowd (did anyone find it funny when he talked about poor people in the world watching rich people give gold statues to each other?).

The Artist ended up being the big success story of the evening. It won five awards, including the biggies of Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. One of the producers said in his acceptance speech that his kids should go to bed, since it was 6:00 a.m. in France. Now, there’s something we haven’t heard in an acceptance speech before. When actor Jean Dujardin won, he shouted “I love this country!”

I wanted to shout back “Prove it by surrendering your Oscar to Clooney!”

I also thought it would’ve been cute if he didn’t say anything in his acceptance speech, but merely pantomimed.

Dujardin did have to convey a whole range of emotions, without using his voice. I was rooting for Clooney, though (and was thrilled Ides of March didn’t get nominations, as it was a disappointing in many ways).

Hugo won the same amount of Oscars as The Artist (in my opinion it was a better film, too). The awards were in lesser categories though. I heard Sacha Baron Cohen (the evil train station guard) did come in costume as the Dictator, harassing Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet.

Hugo director Martin Scorsese seemed confused by a funny reference the Bridesmaids cast made. It was an inside joke to another awards show in which they took swigs of booze every time his name was said.

Of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture, only four deserved those (The Artist, Hugo, The Descendants, and Midnight in Paris). It makes me wish they would’ve just stuck to five like all the other categories.

When I heard that Demian Bichir (A Better Life) was nominated for a horrible movie (a cheap rip off of A Bicycle Thief, filmed as if it were an Afterschool Special), I thought about Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) and Jonah Hill (Moneyball). If ever there was a time to say “It’s an honor to just be nominated,” it can be said about those three.

Everybody I know that saw Albert Nobbs thinks it’s ridiculous that Glenn Close got nominated. I was rooting for Rooney Mara, from my favorite movie of the year (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). I wouldn’t have minded Viola Davis, the favorite, winning for The Help (I love her as an actress, even if I thought The Help was flawed). Everyone was shocked when Meryl Streep won. She was great in the role, but The Iron Lady was hardly a great film. It’s only her 3rd win in 17 nominations. The cut away shots to former San Diegan Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn) made her appear to be not so happy with the decision.

And speaking of My Week with Marilyn, I was thrilled Kenneth Branagh got the nomination for playing Sir Laurence Olivier. I voted for him to get on the nomination list in the San Diego Film Critics Society, but nobody else did. Our group ended giving the award to Nick Nolte, who was basically playing his mug shot photo. Billy Crystal summed him up in a funny bit when he did the voice of what various people in the crowd were thinking (on a side note: when did Nolte turn into Kenny Rogers?).

Christopher Plummer was the favorite to win that Oscar for Beginners, and he did. He gave a great speech, mentioning his wife and saying to the Oscar “You’re only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all my life?”

At 82-years-old, Plummer beat out George Burns and Jessica Tandy as the oldest to win the statue (they were 80).