Well, this year's awards are safely in the rear view mirror. I think we made it through more or less unscathed, right? Were the awards as good as you thought they'd be? I hope so. After all, more people watched this particular telecast than have in the past five years. I guess they must be doing something right, like heaping the nominations on Avatar like they should have done with The Dark Knight last year. I'm sorry, just a little bitter for no particular reason, it's not like the Oscars have the final say on what films will ultimately be deemed classics. Time will step up to define that for us — it will just take, um, time.
In the afterglow of Hollywood's annual backslapping many people will swear off the awards for all time, others will discuss the fashions to no end, and others will complain about how all the wrong choices were made or some other such nonsense. The fact remains I have long since given up on the Academy's thoughts and choices falling into sync with my own. Fact of the matter is my number one film for 2009 was actually nominated, but I was not fooled into thinking it would win, and it didn't (it was District 9).
The evening did not start off too well for me. I was one of the more than three million customers that got cut off from ABC by Cablevision due to their contract disputes. I did watch the pre-show, where I had to tell my mom who all the celebrities were — there are precious few that she recognizes. I was entertained, but I swear, there is only so much Ryan Seacrest that anyone should be forced to endure. I think I was most amused when he was "interviewing" Mariah Carey. She stood there acting foolish and trying to open the slit in her dress the entire time; it was humorous and utterly ridiculous.
I started the evening watching the show via a live stream I found online. I did get to see the Neil Patrick Harris opening, which I thought was quite good. I see him hosting someday, I think he would do a great job. Then we get our dueling hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. I am not going to go into their performance; suffice to say I thought they did pretty good job.
It was during the first award that ABC came back. Sadly I missed most of Christoph Waltz's acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor as I transitioned from my laptop and its little window stream to the living room and glorious high definition. Even with the disruption the ceremony got off to a good start with this victory. It is one that they got unequivocally right.
One thing that we should agree on going in is to not get too upset over the wrong ones that win. We know who deserved to win and who we would really want to win and so long as those films continue to work for us, popularity be damned. Still, there is no denying that in the vast majority of cases the nominees are good films made with a high level of skill.
Leading up to the awards I wrote a series of breakdowns and predictions. This is the most I have ever written about the nominees in the five years I have been writing. In the aftermath of all that writing combined with predictions over the past few years, I have discovered that there is not much in the way of genuine surprises. If you look at each category, can you honestly say you don't have a good idea of who will win? Yes, you will get a few wrong but there are bound to be a few close ones.
Of the 24 categories, I made predictions in 19 of them. Unfortunately, in those remaining five categories I have not seen any of the nominees. For those keeping track, they are Animated Short, Live Action Short, Short Documentary, Documentary, and Foreign Language, and for the record I want to see The Cove and The White Ribbon. Of those 19 categories I went 15 for 19.
The first one I got wrong was Costume Design. It is probably the one I was most assured to get wrong as I predicted based on what I really liked as opposed to who I thought would win. The Young Victoria may be a good movie, but the look does not impress me; all of those films look the same. I picked The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Now that would have been a well-deserved victory.
The next incorrect prediction was for Sound Mixing. The winner was The Hurt Locker while I picked Avatar. Heck, I even had Star Trek over The Hurt Locker. I was thinking the two favorites for Best Picture would split the two sound categories. I was wrong.
This third incorrect category was the biggest surprise of the bunch. The category was Best Adapted Screenplay. I was positive that Up in the Air was going to win; it's a very good screenplay and it seemed to be winning every award leading up to the Oscars. The winner was Precious. Yes, it was a good movie, but was it the best written? Not really. Still, Geoffrey Fletcher was legitimately moved by the win and I am happy for him.
Finally, the last category I got wrong was Best Picture. The deeper into the night we got, the more sure I was that I had made the wrong decision. All the momentum swung the way of The Hurt Locker. The writing category signaled that Up in the Air wasn't going to win, taking it out of contention (I figured it to be the third of the big three contenders). I had a feeling Avatar was going to win based on the breakthrough visuals, technology, and the way that everybody can identify with it.
In the end I am happy that The Hurt Locker won; it really is a good movie. Unfortunately, based on it winning the most awards and the talk I hear around work, the backlash has already begun. Of course, it also seems to be hitting Avatar as well. I am always amazed at how any film that receives a bunch of awards or makes a ton of money seems to instantly become a target. Yes, some have legitimate reasons for not liking a film, but I think many just speak out for the sake of doing it. Whatever, I still know how I feel about them and I still know the best movies of the year include the likes of District 9, The Road, and (500) Days of Summer.
Until another year, roll the credits!