E: It wasn’t the booziest or zaniest telecast ever. No one jumped in the pool fully dressed. Ricky Gervais bombed, in my opinion – or at least, he was a bit of a bust. I don’t think that’s a show that needs a host, really. They didn’t use him enough to make that much of a difference, and when they did, he just wasn’t that memorable. And dear God, but James Cameron is just as insufferable as he was when Titanic won him all those Oscars, twelve years ago.
Ah well. What do I remember from last night’s show that’s positive? Some great dresses, of course. The Glee girls looked particularly fabulous – even Jane Lynch looked spectacular. Of course, Jane Lynch didn’t win. I could have stepped on Chloe Sevigny’s atrocious dress myself. And there were indeed good speeches; Robert Downey Jr’s peacock-like crowing was the most exuberant, but Mo’Nique started the night off with a wallop of emotion. More than that, I’ll remember the sense of gratitude, the sentimentality of the night. And you know me. I ate that up with a spoon. Teary Meryl and Mo’Nique and Sandra? Mmmm, delicious.
And of course I’ll remember for what it will mean for Oscar, though no doubt we’ll be parsing that out for quite a while.
So, first off, we’ve got Mo’Nique, draped like a golden grecian goddess, thanking the man she’s been with since she was 14 (woah!), shaken with emotion, and sending a message of compassion and courage to abuse victims. Wow. This woman is clearly on the path to Oscar. And of course Christoph Waltz – I really have to see this movie to know what all the buzz is about, but he seems just as likely to run away with a supporting trophy. Good for them. I remember thinking his speech was clever, but I have no idea what it was about. Oh. Wait. That thing about globes and constellations and Quentin Tarantino enlarging his orbit. Right. Nice, but if that didn’t smack of pre-planning I don’t know what does.
Let me segue a moment into the animated films. How much did you love Paul McCartney snarking that animation isn’t just for kids – it’s also for adults who do drugs? Excellent. Peter Docter (Up’s director) spoke movingly about the human need for deep connection, and the composer who won for Up’s score (which I loved, by the way) continued in the same deeply felt sentimental vein. I love it. This is my kind of stuff.
And then we have Meryl Streep – or T-Bone Streep, as she wants to be called – who is just clearly so distressed by the situation in Haiti that she called on the example of her beloved lost mother to cheer up, put on a dress, and donate what she can, and be thankful every day for the good she can do. Wow. She’s usually not quite so personal, or so emotional, in her always fantastic acceptance speeches. She also said that she’s played extraordinary women for so long that she’s getting mistaken for one. I don’t know. We never really know about the private lives of famous people, but she seems pretty extraordinary to me.
Robert Downey Jr, as I mentioned before, brought a charged up, electric vibe to the stage. He’s a bit like Robin Williams, isn’t he? There’s no turning him off. Not that I’d want to. This one I didn’t see coming at all – possibly because I didn’t really think of the movie as a comedy? – but it makes a lot of sense. He’s a glamorous good time, and why wouldn’t the Hollywood Foreign Press love that? Apparently Robert’s wife also thought Matt Damon was going to win, so at least I wasn’t alone in that mistaken assumption.
At least my instincts were right about Jeff Bridges, who raised his first major award to his father in heaven. Aw. More sentiment. Cool. It still grosses me out that Maggie Gyllenhaal plays his love interest rather than his daughter, though. Jeff Bridges used to be good looking, right? Would he be again if he cleaned up, or is it too late? Anyway I think it’s smooth sailing for him to Oscar from here. I could always be wrong – a lot can happen in a month – but still, he looks pretty solid. He’s been nominated four times before, he’s been around for more than 30 years, and he delivered good work. Clooney and Freeman have won recently, and the never nominated Firth has lost the momentum.
I’d a feeling all weekend that I ought to have put Sandra Bullock down as my guess. This came from two things; first, seeing that she’d won a Critic’s Choice award (tied with Meryl Streep), and two, seeing The Blind Side (I’ll try and review that for you – I’ve so much backing up, because of these weird issues I keep having with wordpress). It’s a tremendously entertaining, feel good true story, a huge box office success, and it’s really a gift-wrapped Valentine to Sandra Bullock. It couldn’t be a better role for her, and she runs with it. Plus, they like the big stars, and she’s definitely one. I don’t know that she’s going to be my favorite once I’ve seen all the nominees (heck, I like Meryl’s Julia better already) but I like HER. And clearly I’m not the only one; that’s Sandra Bullock’s whole career, in a way. She’s really likable. I’m sure I also wasn’t the only one tearing up when she said to her husband, choking back her own tears, “It’s no surprise my work got better after I met you, because I never knew what it was like for someone to have my back.” Aw, Sandra. That’s making me sniffle right now.
And then we have – James Cameron! Ack. I am not surprised, but – you know, I’m a fan of the man’s work. He just is not subtle, or nuanced, or humble. I did like that he said he thought his ex-wife should have won, though. That was surprisingly classy. And of course, we have Avatar. I’m not at all surprised by this either. It turns out that 100+ person HFP thought that The Hurt Locker was too depressing, and they loved Avatar. Makes sense.
In the end, I think we learned quite a bit last night. Avatar is cruising for the big prize, though it’s by no means a lock. Mo’Nique and Christoph Waltz and, to a lesser degree, Jeff Bridges can all breathe pretty easily, though. Sandra Bullock might be cresting a wave of support based on her personal popularity, her outstanding 2009 box office, and – not so much her body of work (because she normally doesn’t do the sort of work Oscar notices) but because of the tremendous good will she generates. We’ll have to see how it goes with SAG and BAFTA and the rest of the precursor awards. (And, of course, she does still have to be nominated.) I think Kathryn Bigelow still has a good shot at that best director Oscar. Neither Carey Mulligan, nor Colin Firth, nor Gabourey Sidibe got the chance to help their standing with a good speech. Does this mean they’re out? Not yet (there’s lots of time for the buzz to change and for a charm offensive – like Marion Cotillard’s recent last minute victory surge) but it’s getting tougher by the minute.
What did you think? Whose speech moved, or bored you? Were you as disappointed in Ricky Gervais as I was? Did you enjoy seeing industry veteran’s get rewarded? What was your favorite gown? What did you think of all the cleavage on display (Halle Berry, Christina Hendrickson, Mariah Carey, Anna Paquin to name few) and all the bling? Do you hate the hot pink, like the critics, or do you secretly like Diane Kruger’s gown? And wow, how does Sophia Lauren still look so great?