By Sarah Jost
Oscars night has always been one of my favourites of the year, right up there with Halloween and…well, any excuse to get dressed up, have a party, and vote someone best dressed. This year, unfortunately, I couldn’t find any television station in New Zealand showing the Awards and was forced to enjoy them, as Geo said, like our ancestors: by reading about them afterwards. Anti-climactic? Sure. But some might argue I was just going with the theme of the night (burn!).
When James Franco disgraced actors, young people, and most of all, himself as last year’s co-host with the lovely Anne Hathaway, the decision to reinstate the eight-time, classic, and dependable Billy Crystal as host seemed heaven sent. Yet rather than bring in modern day Billy Crystal to host a modern day awards ceremony, the Oscars production team seems to have been scared into completely reverting back to the days when Crystal first hosted.
The introductory montage was fairly standard and at most cute, but still left hope for the rest of the night. Crystal’s monologue, however, was just awful. There were two funny jokes in the entire piece, and he said them both in the first 10 seconds. While no one expected him not to sing a medley about the Best Picture nominees, I feel confident asserting that most assumed it would be humorous. It was not. Some of the films were summarized without even an attempt at a pun or joke. The nervous writers left Crystal without a funny bone to stand on. Was Moneyball really so terrible that all they could think to do was make a poor-taste jab at star Jonah Hill’s weight? A return to old Hollywood ‘class’ after a disastrous flirt with new Hollywood celebrity didn’t need to be boring. For a perfect example of how to combine both, please see Hugh Jackman as host of the 2009 Academy Awards ceremony.
The awards themselves were pretty much in line with Crystal’s opening sequence: charming, but no surprises. Most of the categories went to either The Artist (Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Directing, Music) or Hugo (Cinematography, Art Direction, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects). The best win of the night was The Iron Lady‘s Meryl Streep for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Though Streep, whom presenter and Exemplary Human Being Urchie Award winner Colin Firth called ‘unreasonably good,’ has received 17 Oscar nominations, more than any other actor, this was her first win in 30 years. Other highlights include George Clooney not winning for The Descendants (your time will come, George, and it will be so much better) and Kiwi Bret McKenzie taking home Best Original Song for ‘Man or Muppet’ (the local news showed his family in New Zealand gathered around the telly crying.)
The biggest disappoint of the night was seeing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, my favorite film of the year, go home empty handed. Luckily for them, the Urchies are still around the corner, and my vote counts twice (just kidding, Margaret and Geo!). But back to that other award show that starts with a vowel. In the unofficial but audience-favourite category of Best Dressed, there were six standout nominees:
Gwyneth Paltrow in Tom Ford
Gwyneth proved once and for all that less is more in this minimalist wonder. The way the hem grazes the carpet just so. The sparkly cuff. And I’m sorry, is that a cape? Red carpet wannabes everywhere take note.
Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton
Michelle Williams is one of my favourite red carpet actresses to watch, because she spends all year trying quirky, cute, and daring pieces at premieres, parties, and awards, then always manages to combine all of those aspects with class and grace for the Oscars.
Cameron Diaz in Gucci
Meryl Streep in Lanvin
Meryl is the picture of elegance and confidence, and will nearly always make my best dressed list simply because of how she carries herself. In motion, Meryl and this dress were an unstoppable duo, exuding regality and casual, cool sophistication.
Glenn Close in Zac Posen
The surprise of the night! Glenn Close was a boss. Posen’s dress was perfectly architected to fit her fantastic frame, and the addition of the jacket on anyone else by anyone else would have looked hokey and awkward, but Close owned the ensemble and looked stunning.
Kristen Wiig in J. Mendel
While Kristen Wiig will have to try a lot harder to win an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, she managed to win my Best Dressed of the night. Her dress was delicate, beautiful, and fit like a really expensive couture glove. The casually stacked bracelets, green and gold ring, and black nail polish are practically her membership card to the cool kid’s club, and her hair is a perfect compliment to the ensemble. And in her defense, she probably didn’t write Bridesmaids with the Oscars in mind, and it’s not her fault the Academy’s trying to use her to gain cool points with the younger crowd. Kudos to Kristen for holding her own in the notorious boys club of comedy, and acing her first trip down the Oscars red carpet.
Tune in Wednesday to see how the nominees fare at this year’s Urchie Awards. We’ll be announcing the best writer, bookstore, film, restaurant, travel destination, and more. Let us know who you think should win, and cast your vote for Best High Noon Picture of the Year!