Oscar! Oscar! Read all about it!

Best Actress Academy Award

Best Actress Academy Award (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Ah, the Oscars. The time of year when family members, agents, and “the Academy” get a spike in popularity.

I kid because I love. And I do ♥ the Oscars. Every last bit, from the designer frocks to the once-in-a-blue-moon inspiring acceptance speeches to the hyperbolic self-congratulations to the kernel of sincere appreciation for cinematic artistry. For a complete list of Oscar winners, click here.

So here’s a rundown of my personal reactions to this year’s Oscar marathon:

  • Overall winner of the night:  Nostalgia.
    • The theme of the telecast was all about recreating the experience of watching movies, from the usherettes passing out candy and whatnot as the show went to commercial to the Cirque du Soleil performance (more on that in a bit) to the snippets of actors describing their first moviegoing experience.
    • Also, the most nominated films, Hugo (11 noms) and The Artist (10 noms), both harkened back to the origins of filmmaking. Both films ended up tying for the most Oscars won, with 5 golden statuettes each.
    • Plus, the (second) choice of Billy Crystal as host upped the nostalgia factor.
  • MVP of the night:  Melissa McCarthy. Clips of her hilarious, and Oscar-nominated, turn in Bridesmaids popped up all over the place. Loved the robe-and-sparkly-shoes bit with Billy Crystal, plus the Scorsese drinking bit reprise from the SAG Awards.
  • Favorite moments:
    • The acceptance speeches of Christopher Plummer and Meryl Streep. Classy and funny. My husband’s response:  “That’s how you do it.”
    • Billy Crystal’s opening song. Of course. It’s a wonderful night for Oscars…
    • Tom Hanks’s shout-out to 59-year Oscar seat filler Carl. I really hope that backstory is true, and I hope that Carl has been wearing that pastel blue tux and ruffled shirt every one of those years.
    • The hilarious pairing of Robert Downey, Jr. & Gwyneth Paltrow. Runner-up schtick:  Emma Stone & Ben Stiller.
    • Funniest spontaneous bit:  When the writers of The Descendants, who won Best Adapted Screenplay, made fun of Angelina Jolie’s leg-baring stance.
    • The very classy “in memoriam” tribute. And how beautiful did Esperanza Spalding sound (and look) during her rendition of “What a Wonderful World” during the tribute? So lovely.
  • Least favorite moments:
    • Sasha Baron Cohen’s performance on the red carpet, “accidentally” pouring Chemical X — whoops, I mean, the ashes of Kim Jong-il — on Ryan Seacrest. So UNclassy and UNfunny.
    • The pairings of Jennifer Lopez & Cameron Diaz (total clunker) and Tina Fey & Bradley Cooper (Tina, I ♥ you, and you looked fantastic, and sorry you were stuck with such a humorless sidekick)
    • The totally POINTLESS Cirque du Soleil thing. Why did they have time for that interpretive dance and not the performances of the two nominees for Best Original Song? It seemed like it was thrown in there just so someone could say, “This has NEVER been done at the Oscars before.” Ugh. Oscar FAIL.
    • Spending more camera time on the musicians in the balcony than the 3 Honorary Oscar winners (Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones, and Dick Smith) who were also stuck up there in the balcony. Another Oscar FAIL.
    • Pretty much dissing the category you’re presenting, à la Chris Rock, who made fun of voice acting when he presented the Animated Feature category.
  • Fun facts:
    • Plummer setting a record as oldest actor to win an acting Oscar, at age 82. I’m sure he LOOOOVED all those mentions of his age. Previous holders of that record? George Burns for Best Supporting Actor (The Sunshine Boys, 1975) and Jessica Tandy for Best Actress (Driving Miss Daisy, 1989), who both were 80 years young when they won.
    • Meryl Streep having been nominated across five decades, starting in 1979. WOW!
    • In Colin Firth’s introduction for Michelle Williams, he humorously mentioned learning so much from her when they last worked together. OF COURSE I looked that up in IMDb.com. Turns out they did co-star in a movie, A Thousand Acres, in 1997.
  • Best dressed:
    • The cast of The Help. Jessica Chastain pulled out all the stops in her black-and-gold strapless dress, Octavia Spencer was giving a master class in how to dress a full-figured physique, Viola Davis rocked her natural hair, and Emma Stone pulled off a gigantic neck bow. They all brought it and then some.
    • Runner-up: Tina Fey in her form-fitting navy blue gown. Best she’s ever looked.
  • Worst dressed:
    • I loved Bridesmaids but overall, the ladies were a disappointing lot in the dress department — except for Maya Rudoph, who looked great in an eggplant-colored, embellished sheath. Melissa McCarthy’s natural beauty got lost in all the doo-dads on her dress, Kristen Wiig looked DRAB in yet another neutral column, and Rose Byrne needed another sandwich (or 10) in her black sequins. She is so so so so pretty but looked waaaay too thin. And they say the camera adds 10 pounds. Yikes!
  • Overall grade? A solid B+, for a satisfying slice of Oscars. And not the kind of slice featured in The Help. ;)

So you know I’m spending the rest of this morning reviewing other Oscar-themed commentary, “best dressed” and “what was she/he thinking?” picture galleries, and assorted bits and trivia. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. ;)

Can’t get enough Oscars? Check out my post, “Behind every academy is a great library,” over on my personal blog about the Margaret Herrick Library, the library for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. You know, “the Academy” everyone was thanking last night. Bless. ♥