Designers were praised, envelopes opened, statues were awarded, and the 84thAcademy Awards ran smoothly and surprisingly timely. Here on the West Coast, Hollywood’s biggest night began promptly at 5:30 with the epic voice of Morgan Freeman. Freeman touched on “the magic of the movies”, which came to be the night’s theme.
Another big theme of the Oscars this year was nostalgia. A majority of this year’s best picture nominations took place in decades past. Billy Crystal succeeded in making each viewer feel nostalgic, as he recycled some of the gimmicks he’d used during his eight prior times hosting. But despite feeling like we’d seen much of it before, Billy Crystal’s performance was both funny and endearing. Crystal opened the show by inserting himself into this year’s movies, in a hilarious mash-up that included him puckering up to Clooney in a scene from The Descendents and devouring a chocolate pie with a very special ingredient in a memorable moment from The Help. But the opening didn’t stop there – Crystal, after striding onto the stage, launched into one of his notorious medleys. Later in the show, Crystal pulled out his party trick: reading the minds of the stars, claiming that Angelina Jolie fantasizes of being his Mrs., and that Brad Pitt was anxious for the show to be over, as he had “six parent conferences in the morning.”
Although not Best Picture, Hugo was clearly the Oscars’ biggest winner. The poetic kid’s film snagged a total of five awards, most revolving around the movie’s high visual appeal.
The most prestigious award went to The Artist. The (mostly) silent and always black and white film must have enthralled the members of the Academy, all 6000 plus of them. The Artist’s rich story, lovable characters, and stunning cinematography are brilliant enough to captivate a generation preoccupied with all things loud and colorful. The film’s star, the dashingly handsome and undeniably French Jean Dujardin beat out both Clooney and Pitt for Best Actor. Lacking the signature skinny mustache of his character, George, but retaining all of George’s charm, Dujardin quipped, “If George Valentine could speak, he’d say…Merci!”
The simple beauty and classic quality of The Artist seemed to be an inspiration to the tone of the Academy Awards. With Broadway-esque sets, wonderfully intimate-feeling on-screen interviews, and a no-frills presentation of Best Picture, this year’s Oscars was the absolute perfect combination of classy and campy. There was not a dull moment or scandal to be had, but rather, just an awards show dedicated to the cinematic experience.
The Academy Awards struck a chord in the heart of its viewers because it came across like a personal gift to movie lovers everywhere, wrapped in a shiny gold ribbon and presented with a card proclaiming “Thank you for going to the movies.”