This article was originally written for a film magazine, which before publication of this article, decided to cease operations. Hence, the lateness. Enjoy.
Hollywood’s film royalty made their way to the Hollywood and Highland Center (previously known as the Kodak Theatre) Sunday, February 26, for the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Affectionately know as the ‘Oscars,’ the Academy Awards are hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and are the highest accolade within the film industry.
Hosted for the ninth time by Billy Crystal, after initial host Eddie Murphy stepped down last November, this year’s Oscars drew in more than 39 million viewers within the United States alone and was broadcast to more than 100 countries around the world including Cambodia.
The year’s big winner was the silent film, The Artist. It took home the awards for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, and of course, the Oscar’s most prestigious award, Best Picture. In a surprise twist, The Artist is the first silent film since the 1st Academy Awards back in 1929 to win Best Picture.
The Oscar win has propelled The Artist into the Top 10 charts for the first time. In the US Box office sales were up 34% the weekend after the Oscars, bringing the international gross to $47 million – not bad for a film that cost less than half of that to produce.
Martin Scorsese’s big budget family film, Hugo, was the other big winner of the night, at least in terms of number of wins, walking away with five awards including Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.
Meryl Streep won Best Actress for her portrayal of former British prime minister and political figure, Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She is now one of only four other actors to have won three Oscar’s for acting achievement. She is also the most nominated actor in the history of the Academy Awards. Over her illustrious career, she has raked in seventeen acting nominations.
The most commercially successful Best Picture nominee, The Help, may not have won the coveted Best Picture award but Octavia Spencer who played Minny Jackson in the film was honored with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She gave one of the most heartfelt and emotional speeches of the night, looking visibly taken aback as she made her way to the stage.
Christopher Plummer became the oldest actor to receive an Oscar when he picked up Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris won Best Writing – Original Screenplay while Oscar favorite starring George Clooney The Descendants won Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay.
Rango beat out Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots for Best Animated Feature. Iranian film A Separation took home Best Foreign Language Film. Flight of the Concords frontman Bret McKenzie won Best Original Song for ‘Man or Muppet’ from The Muppets.
Moreso than ever this year, the media have been critical of the Academy for being out of touch with the general public. Billy Crystal has been labeled by some columnists and bloggers as being a reflection of that predictable, old-school, pretentious Hollywood attitude that the Academy Awards have come to be synonymous with. However, it seems that some critics will always have something to complain about. Last year, the Academy took a gamble with first time presenters James Franco and Anne Hathaway in an effort to rake in a younger demographic. A move that ultimately failed when the two actors were blasted for being stiff and unfunny.
This year’s opening montage once again attempted to break through to a younger audience with a special cameo appearance by Justin Bieber. However, in general, it still wasn’t enough to bring in big ratings. This year’s telecast brought in 39 million viewers in the United States as compared to the Superbowl which drew in 113 million viewers just a few weeks earlier.
Originally booked to host this year’s Oscars, Tower Heist and A Thousand Words star Eddie Murphy stepped down late last year after the resignation of Oscars telecast producer, Brett Ratner. Ratner was forced to step down after using a gay slur, which made media headlines. Murphy, who had originally been approached by Ratner to host, also stood down, feeling uncomfortable keeping the role without Ratner producing.