As expected, “The King’s Speech” topped this year’s Oscars, winning Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay, though not, as expected, the slew of technical awards it was also nominated for. In fact, while it dominated the major categories, it lost more awards than it won and it wound up tied for the most Oscars of the night with “Inception,” which cleaned up in the technical categories: scoring wins for Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and, in what amounted to an upset on a very predictable evening, Cinematography over “The King’s Speech” and the Susan Lucci of the Oscars, “True Grit” director of photography Roger Deakins. Early Best Picture frontrunner “The Social Network” walked away with three awards, for Best Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, and Editing.
Much has already been made — and will continue to be made — about the relative worthiness or unworthiness of “The King’s Speech” as Best Picture winner. Even Best Picture presenter Steven Spielberg seemed to raise the issue by alluding to the illustriousness of the list of Best Picture losers in his introduction to the nominees. His reference seemed particularly appropriate since his own “Saving Private Ryan” famously lost to brilliant Oscar campaigner Harvey Weinstein’s “Shakespeare in Love,” just as the more critically acclaimed “The Social Network” was about to lose to Weinstein’s “The King’s Speech.”
I suppose if you’re a “Social Network” fan (or a “Winter’s Bone” fan or a “Toy Story 3” fan…) this is something to get upset about. But let’s be realistic here: getting it “wrong” is one of the few things the Oscars do really well. Though few people will admit to it, this is the real reason we love the Oscars: because they’re fun to make fun of. They stir up conversation and give us nerds something to complain about. And nerds love to complain about stuff (see: the internet). Mind you, I’m not even suggesting any award really can get it “right.” The only thing that can prove a movie’s greatness is time, and that is something Academy voters do not have the luxury of.
Much will also be made of the show itself, and of hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway who were more uncomfortably odd couple than adorably odd couple. Hathaway was all bubbly energy and excitement, while Franco looked increasingly bored throughout the evening, particularly when he was paired with his more animated co-host. Franco and Hathaway self-deprecatingly acknowledged that their presence pointed to the fact that the Oscars were going for a “young and hip” audience, a fact even more clear during embarrassingly unfunny schtick like the AutoTuned nominees bit. But again, this is what the Oscars do: try and fail to be contemporary. The Oscars, so long, so stodgy, so soaked in the illusion of glitz and glamour, are like a shambling, bedazzled dinosaur. The Oscars have been out of touch since I’ve been watching, dating back the last couple decades. To me, watching the Oscars make awkward stabs at relevance is all part of the fun. If the Oscars got it right, what would we joke about on Twitter?
Really what this year lacked compared with other Oscar telecasts wasn’t comedy but surprise, and that’s something that’s beyond the show’s control. When we remember our favorite Oscar moments, we don’t think of planned material. We love the crazy spontaneous moments — David Niven and the streaker, Sacheen Littlefeather accepting Brando’s “Godfather” Oscar, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s refusal to yield to the wishes of the You’re Taking Too Long! music. The fact that the show went largely as predicted by award season prognosticators isn’t the fault of the the Oscars’ producers, though it may point to the fact that while these prediction websites make winning Oscar pools a lot easier, they also may make watching the Oscars themselves a lot harder.
Harder to watch than the Oscars? The Razzies, but that’s because they’re not televised at all. How is that even possible? Not even on the Internet? I would watch the Razzies, especially if they showed really embarrassing clips of the nominees, and particularly to see if any of the winners showed up to accept their awards.
As I predicted last week, M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” was the biggest loser at the Golden Raspberry Awards this year, earning Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and a particularly deserving Worst 3D. The deadly “Sex and the City 2” wasn’t let off the hook either, picking up awards for Worst Actress (for all four leads), Ensemble (for all four leads and everyone else in the movie), and Worst Sequel. And speaking of sequels, I’m sure we’ll revisit this ongoing conversation about the merits of these shows this time next year.
The 2011 Academy Award Winners
Best Picture: “The King’s Speech”
Best Director: Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
Best Actor: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Best Original Song: “We Belong Together,” “Toy Story 3”
Best Editing: “The Social Network”
Best Visual Effects: “Inception”
Best Documentary Feature: “Inside Job”
Best Live-Action Short: “God of Love”
Best Documentary Short: “Strangers No More”
Best Costume Design: “Alice in Wonderland”
Best Makeup: “The Wolfman”
Best Sound Editing: “Inception”
Best Sound Mixing: “Inception”
Best Original Score: “The Social Network”
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Best Foreign Language Film: “In a Better World”
Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler, “The King’s Speech”
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
Best Animated Feature: “Toy Story 3”
Best Animated Short: “The Lost Thing”
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Best Cinematography: “Inception”
Best Art Direction: “Alice in Wonderland”
The 2011 Golden Raspberry Award Losers
Worst Picture: “The Last Airbender”
Worst Actor: Ashton Kutcher, “Killers” and “Valentine’s Day”
Worst Actress: The Four “Gal Pals,” “Sex and the City 2” (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis & Cynthia Nixon)
Worst Supporting Actress: Jessica Alba, “The Killer Inside Me,” “Little Fockers,” “Machete,” and “Valentine Day”
Worst Supporting Actor: Jackson Rathbone, “The Last Airbender” and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”
Worst Eye-Gouging Mis-Use of 3D: “The Last Airbender” (Released in “Fake 3-D”)
Worst Screen Couple or Ensemble: The Entire Cast of “Sex & the City 2”
Worst Director: M. Night Shyamalan, “The Last Airbender”
Worst Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan, “The Last Airbender”
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel: “Sex & the City 2”