Pixar remains more or less foolproof, while Nick Park and his Aardman Animations group lost their first Oscar ever (unless you count them beating themselves in 1989). Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were interesting choices as hosts. Most of the presenters were barely passable. History was indeed made when Kathryn Bigelow won her Best Director award for The Hurt Locker while shuttled-off-to-their-own-ceremony honorees Roger Corman and Lauren Bacall were actually in the Kodak Theater, able to bask in their standing ovation afterthought glow. All in all, it was a decent night for the Academy Awards - a few fun surprises surrounded by a lot of the same old shi…stuff. Jokes at the expense of celebrities were the norm. The hosts indulged in a few uneven spoofs. And less than 24 hours later, pundits everywhere are trying to make sense of what transpired - if anything.
Sure, it was nice to see Jeff Bridges received his lifetime achievement award - sorry, Best Actor statue - and Sandra Bullock put on a brave "maybe I shouldn't be here" face for what is rapidly becoming the Paltrow/Hunt "Huh?" acknowledgement for actresses. Christoph Waltz was unfortunate enough to be the first major recipient, meaning that every time Inglourious Basterds lost to some other film, he became the close-up poster boy for Quentin Tarantino's fading evening fortunes. At some point, the ceremony needs to be shorn of such pointless grandstanding as the Best Live Action Short Film/Documentary category (these filmmakers can be insufferable) and it's clear that few can sell a Best Song nominee outside its cinematic setting. Still, if we learned anything from the 2010 Oscars, it's that the more the AMPAS tries to change things, the more they stay the same, sadly.
However, there are at least five things we can take from this years awards that stand out, elements that, at least for this movie season, made us sit back and take notice, beginning with:
Ten Didn't Matter
The Guilds (Almost) Always Get It Right
The Foreign Film Category is Now Officially a Crapshoot
It Can Be About "The Performance, Not the Politics
All Dancers Must Die!