Oscars 2012Friday, March 30, 2012 By Jacob Boyer
I was initially unenthusiastic as I sat down to watch the biggest movie award ceremony of the year. I had little expectation for Billy Crystal as a host, and I questioned as to what the grounds for some of the nominations were for. Terence Malick does not deserve an Oscar for making an artsy piece of trash known as ‘ The Tree of Life’ , nor does ‘ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ , just because they had pretty costumes and unique creature design. Sure, we had some good choices for nominees, giving Meryl Streep her 17th nomination for Best Actress, and nominating Martin Scorcese’s fun little robo-film, ‘ Hugo ’ for everything under the sun, but I seriously had to question the credibility of the Academy on quite a few of their decisions. To say the least, this was the year, in my mind, in which we practically hit rock-bottom. But I have been wrong before, and I’d like to thank the Academy Awards for proving me so. Not only did the right prize fall into the right hands for every single, solitary filmmaker, but Billy Crystal was at his best as the charismatic host and comedian we all know him to be. However, aside from the show, it was the little moments in between nominations which left me in laughter, tears, and overall left me, and anyone else who watched the program, with a strong sense of pride in this form of art we hold so dear to our hearts. When a wide range of stars, including Ben Stiller, Morgan Freeman, Adam Sandler, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt, Hillary Swank, Tom Cruise, and Barbara Streissand sat in front of a blank screen and flat out told the viewers what their first movie theater experiences were, I could almost feel the happiness of all filmmakers, past, present, and future, swelling to the point of bursting. Despite the greatness of the short montages and performances, the actual presentations of those who won golden trophies were the tearfully joyful moments that stole the show. I must say, I was not surprised ‘ The Artist ’ won five separate awards (Best Picture, Directing, Actor, Costume Design, and Original Score), being that I’ve heard nothing but praise for this silent wonder, but I was surprised that ‘ Hugo ’ took five as well (Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects). I love Scorcese, but this seemed to be an odd choice for the legendary director. Thankfully, it was fortunate for his underlings of the film that he won them their awards. I was glad to see Meryl Streep take her first Oscar since 1982, but I think anyone who has seen ‘ My Week with Marilyn ’ will tell you that Michelle Williams earned that award. Ocatvia Spencer, although I have yet to see ‘ The Help ’, did appear to be a great actress, and I’m glad to see that she did win. I have to say, though, Christopher Plummer’s performance in ‘ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ’, left no doubt in my mind that he would win Best Supporting Actor. As anyone knows by now, he is officially the oldest person to receive and Oscar, at 82 years old, only two years younger than the award itself. In fact he joked with the little trophy during his speech, saying, “You’re only two years older than me, baby. Where have you been all my life?”. Moving right along, ‘ Rango ’, the film that, in my mind, revitalized the Western genre for a new generation, won the Best Animated Film Oscar it deserved, as did the animated short ‘T he Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore ’, which won Best Animated Short. The Best Live Action Short fell into the hands of ‘ The Shore ’. The Best Documentaries of the year, Regular and Short, were won by ‘ Undefeated ’ and ‘ Saving Face ’, respectively. While on the subject of ‘ Saving Face ’, a short about Iraqi women recovering from acid violence in the war, it occurred to me midway through the ceremony that many of the films made this past year were of foreign origin. As it should be, the Cinematic industry is highly culturally diverse, which made me glad to see so many filmmakers, whether they be up-and-coming or just unrecognized, win achievements for their work. Thus, the Foreign Language film award was a highly sought-after trophy, eventually having ‘ A Separation ’ come out on top. The remainder of the awards were distributed by some big name stars, many of whom were winners of the award in previous years, including Christian Bale, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Downey Jr., Emma Stone, Michael Douglas, Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, and Tom Cruise. ‘ Midnight in Paris ’ and ‘ The Descendants ’ won awards for Best Screenplay (adapted and original), and ‘ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ’ won Best Editing. The Academy Awards are a spectacle, as they should be, of magnificent magnitude and proportions. As you may have read in some of my previous work, my outlook for cinema as a whole, pertaining a bit more towards the future, has been rather bleak. After reading the list of nominees this year, I was ready to tender my resignation as a film critic and leave the job to the next unfortunate fool who would fill my position. In all my life, I have never been more happy to have been proven wrong, and that cinema has not degenerated into a severe state of decay, but, is in fact, learning from some of its prior mistakes and moving forward with a newfound sense of pride and hope.