Academy Awards winners, 2012

Here are my comments on this year’s Academy Awards winners (the 2011 post is here).

Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Congrats to the The Artist‘s team, for a very, very brave film, which probably didn’t have too much trouble gathering a broad consensus within the Academy. All the films up there are quite deserving (I haven’t seen Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close or War Horse) but I guess the Artist had this magical element to it: the nostalgia, the neverending devotion to cinema, the characters, the humour and the emotions. A fully expected and deserving winner then.
Michel Hazanavicius’ speech when he won this was incredibly sweet! And I loved producer Thomas Langmann’s tribute to his dad -French director Claude Berri. Aww. His high-five with Harvey Weinstein when he won also spoke volumes -he’s done it again!

Best Director
Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne – The Descendants
Martin Scorsese – Hugo

Two absents out of five nominees -hee hee. I’m glad Michel Hazanavicius won that one, he’s deserved it all along. I guess his DGA win pretty much locked that category. But Terrence Malick’s nomination, once again, was the unexpected element here and it’s great that the Academy recognised that.

Best Actor
Demián Bichir – A Better Life
George Clooney – The Descendants
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt – Moneyball

There was some last-minute speculation that Clooney might win this one over Jean Dujardin -but all turned out well in the end for Jean Dujardin, for a spectacular performance that objectively deserved to win. I don’t think any of the actors, not even Clooney indeed, could have taken on the role of George Valentin. His speech was also very cute -he was answering Melissa Fairbanks’ open letter on being inspired by her grandfather. So he really nailed it. Chapeau l’artiste, as we say in French!

Best Actress
Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis – The Help
Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams – My Week with Marilyn

This race was a bit unclear as Glenn Close had first emerged as the strongest contender, then Michelle Williams and her performance as Marilyn generated so much buzz, only to see Viola Davis and Meryl Streep sharing all the acting awards througout the season. Rooney Mara was always going to be the wildcard nominee here. And I guess Harvey Weinstein’s push was enough to give Meryl her third Oscar -I still have to see the Iron Lady but judging by the critics, her performance seems to have been nothing less than phenomenal. Viola Davis held up her own in the Help, with some truly outstanding moments, but here’s to hoping she will continue to be recognised for her work.

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill – Moneyball
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Christopher Plummer’s speech was THE BEST. What a wonderful man. It’s hard to believe he hasn’t won this before -and his performance in Beginners really was touching and wonderful. So once again, a category I’m happy with. I have to say, this year’s Oscars -the main categories anyway, are quite decent, unlike last year. Which I’m still bitter about.

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo – The Artist
Jessica Chastain – The Help
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer – The Help

This is also a fully deserved win, long overdue, for Octavia Spencer. Her presence in the Help literally lit up the screen and made everyone cry and laugh at the same time. I hope she won’t be hit by the so-called Best Supporting Actress curse! As for Jessica Chastain, I’m a 100% positive she will earn many, many nominations in the years to come. She’s quickly becoming one of my favourite actresses -I’ve never been so enchanted by someone on the screen really.

Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
J.C. Chandor – Margin Call
Asghar Farhadi – A Separation
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig – Bridesmaids

I was thinking the Artist might win this one, since it won at the Baftas and that Best Film + Best Director Oscars usually mean a Best Screenplay win, but apparently not. It is true that Woody Allen’s impossible knack for spelling out touching truths is very much reflected in his Midnight in Paris screenplay. I won’t even wax poetics on Woody Allen’s writing skills because it’s all been said before and proved time and again in the span of his lifelong career. So well done Woody, and also well done for skipping the ceremony!

Best Adapted Screenplay
George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon – The Ides of March
John Logan – Hugo
Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash – The Descendants
Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, Story by Stan Chervin – Moneyball

As expected, the Descendants got that one -and was I shocked to see that Dean Pelton from Community (Jim Rash) is one of the co-writers! And it’s so awesome that they imitated Angelina Jolie’s pose. Haha. Anyway. Back on the category: Alexander Payne and his co-writers really deserved that one, for a screenplay that was incredibly bittersweet. I think all of the screenplays nominated are really strong, well-written ones but the Descendants had that particular, really personal touch that a lot of people can identify with.

Best Foreign-Language Film
Bullhead (Belgium)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)

A fully expected win from Iran’s A Seperation here which has enthralled critics all year long. The director’s speech was also incredibly good, he did really well. I feel like I should have seen the Belgian entry (having lived in Belgium for the past 6 months) but I haven’t.

Best Animated Film of the Year
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

I was totally surprised by Gore Verbinski’s appearance -for some reason I’d never seen him before but did not picture him like that at all! It’s a well-deserved prize, although I haven’t seen many of the nominees here.

Best Documentary Feature
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth
Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

So this one was the unpredictable category this year as the usual Oscar watchers seemed split between Paradise Lost, Pina and Undefeated. The plot for the latter seems eerily similar to that of Moneyball, so it could be interesting, except it’s on American football, which I don’t know anything about.

Best Art Direction
The Artist
Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo

Midnight in Paris
Anne Seibel, Hélène Dubreuil
War Horse
Rick Carter, Lee Sandales

I totally called that one! But I’m a bit disappointed for the Harry Potter team which did an amazing job for the past decade. But the art direction in Hugo was outstanding indeed. If there’s one technical Oscar that film deserved, then it was this one. However for the others… More on that later!

Best Cinematography
Jeff Cronenweth – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Janusz Kaminski – War Horse
Emmanuel Lubezki – The Tree of Life
Robert Richardson – Hugo
Guillaume Schiffman – The Artist

So. I’m legitimately upset about this category. Really. If I thought the ASC was any indication for this, then the Academy proved me wrong. I guess Lubezki’s omission at the Bafta might have pointed towards this, but Robert Richardson winning is just completely unfair. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great DoP -his work with Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino and the latest Martin Scorsese films, has been constantly good. But I mean, the cinematography in Hugo doesn’t come close to what Lubezki has achieved in the Tree of Life. I’m genuinely upset that Lubezki missed out on getting the Oscar for that particular film -I’m sure he’ll win loads in the future, seeing how talented he is. But I wanted him to win for the Tree of Life. And for lack of better words, I’m just gonna leave DoP Caleb Deschanel’s Variety column here, which pretty much sums up all my thoughts.

Best Costume Design
Lisy Christl – Anonymous
Mark Bridges – The Artist
Sandy Powell – Hugo
Michael O’Connor – Jane Eyre
Arianne Phillips – W.E.

Oh yay! I’m happy about this one. Not that Sandy Powell didn’t deserve it but she has too many Oscars already. I thought Arianne Phillips might win this one because she won the CGA award, but I guess the guilds really don’t match up the Oscars this year. Which is both strange and revealing: if your fellow peers recognise your work as the best, then the Academy should. In theory. But I’m happy with Mark Bridges winning as the costumes were delightful in the Artist.

Best Editing
Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Thelma Schoonmaker – Hugo
Christopher Tellefsen – Moneyball
Kevin Tent – The Descendants

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s single Oscar and what an unexpected one! I mean, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall are geniuses but to actually win in this category two years in a row, that’s amazing! Well done guys for pulling this off! I still need to see the film though. Yes I know, shame on me, but I intend to catch up as soon as possible -and I’m in no hurry because I like the original Swedish films A LOT.

Best Makeup
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle –Albert Nobbs
Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland – The Iron Lady

This could have gone either way -to the Iron Lady or Albert Nobbs, but I guess the former must have seem more impressive. I loved how Meryl Streep paid tribute to J. Roy Helland in her speech, who’s followed her throughout her career, I mean that was really, really sweet.

Best Music (Score)
Ludovic Bource – The Artist
Alberto Iglesias – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Howard Shore – Hugo
John Williams – The Adventures of Tintin
John Williams – War Horse

Awwwww! Ludovic Bource was a bit of an underdog here considering his fellow nominees, but his score did make the film (literally) and it was amazing how he stopped to shake John Williams’ hand on his way to the stage and how he must have been really impressed to have won over these legendary composers. I absolutely adore Howard Shore but I have to say his score for Hugo didn’t really stick in my mind.

Best Music (Song)
“Man or Muppet” – The Muppets
Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” – Tangled
Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, Siedah Garrett

HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA. I’m so thrilled about this. I wish he would have brought Jermaine Clement to the ceremony. Seriously. And his speech was just typical Kiwi humour and AAARGH I’m in love with this man, have been for a long time. It’s just so funny that he should win an Oscar, which is all about being serious and dramatic and blah blah blah, for the Muppets. He’s the best. Marry me, Bret (or should I say, Britt).

Best Sound Mixing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley

Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
War Horse
Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Yes, I called that one out, Hugo‘s sounds were AMAZING! Well done guys. Seeing Hugo sweep the technical awards made me somehow unhappy but for the sound categories, I think they really deserved it.

Best Sound Editing
Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis – Drive
Ren Klyce – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty – Hugo
Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl – Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom – War Horse

So Drive left the ceremony empty handed. That was expected anyway since Hugo was bound to win this especially after getting the MPSE award. I love seeing all these guys I’ve seen in DVD bonus features -Ethan Van der Ryn, Ren Klyce etc., getting a nomination. And Gary Rydstrom is a living legend, seriously.

Best Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning

Real Steel
Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

So yeah. That was the other HUGE disappointment of the night: seeing Hugo‘s team winning over the groundbreaking work of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I mean, really? Rise‘s achievement in VFX will stand the test of time, I’m sure of it. Hugo‘s special effects were good, I mean, they were part of the story, but in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, they told the story! Is it all because of the 3D format that Hugo gets so much recognition in the tech categories? Or just as consolation prizes for the main categories? Because that would be really unfair to all the other films that truly deserved it -in this category for example. I really don’t get it, it’s truly astounding.

And finally…

Best Documentary Short
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Best Animated Short Film
Dimanche/Sunday – Patrick Doyon
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore – William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
La Luna – Enrico Casarosa
A Morning Stroll – Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
Wild Life – Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Best Live Action Short Film
Pentecost – Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
Raju – Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
The Shore – Terry George and Oorlagh George
Time Freak – Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
Tuba Atlantic – Hallvar Witzø

Voilà, that’s it, another crazy year gone by. I’m not sure I’ll have the time to have a photopost but I will try to. And we’re already starting to think about next year! In a few words: Paul Thomas Anderson, Gatsby, hobbits and… the Dark Knight Rises. Can’t wait already!

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