The Transformers failed me.
I posted my complete Oscar predictions last week, but last nightâs telecast found me to be something less than Nostradamus. As the official results show, I correctly guessed 11 out of the 23 categories, getting less than half of my predictions right. I blame the shutout of Transformers in the technical categories, even though it was considered the favorite. The Bourne Ultimatum picked up the two Sound Editing Oscars and The Golden Compass (in perhaps the most surprising of the second-tier upsets) won for Visual Effects, despite having worse visual effects than its competition. Clearly the Academy has a bias against giant alien robots that can turn into trucks and planes and stuff.
The actress categories provided two major upsets. Instead of Away from Herâs Julie Christie, Marion Cotillard won Best Actress for La Vie en Rose, proving that being young and hot trumps being seasoned and respected, at least in the Academyâs eyes. Or maybe it proves that hotness compensates for being a non-native English speaker. Or that itâs better to play a real person, especially a musician, than a sick person.
And Tilda Swinton won Best Supporting Actress for Michael Clayton, presumably because Ruby Dee had too little screen time, Saoirse Ronan was too young, Amy Ryan too much of a newcomer and Cate Blanchett already being a winner in the category. Thereâs also the wild possibility that Cotillard and Swinton were actually considered the best, most deserving actresses in the categories. Can it be that simple?
No Country for Old Men won four Oscars â the most of the evening for any film â for Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, but lost Cinematography to There Will Be Blood and Editing to The Bourne Ultimatum. Expected favorites Daniel-Day Lewis of There Will Be Blood and Diablo Cody of Juno won Best Actor and Original Screenplay, respectively.
But how was the show?
Tame. Dull. Inoffensive. The consensus among the live-bloggers was that Jon Stewart was really on his game. The show itself, though, was heavily larded with montages of past Oscar winners in each of the major categories â clip reels that, presumably, were assembled without needing the participation of striking writers. (Salonâs Cintra Wilson imagines the scenario here.) The lack of writers until eight days before the ceremony probably prevented one of those elaborate, comedic montages using scenes from the nominated movies, which was a shame because to me, those can be the showsâ highlight.
The best moments were the little classy ones, like Stewart allowing the co-star of Once to come out and finish her acceptance speech, and having men and women in the U.S. armed forces overseas announce the nominees in the Documentary Short category (which is a way of supporting the troops while pointing out that some of them may still be stationed in harm's way).
One of the low-lights for me was hearing Jerry Seinfeld do that damn Bee Movie character one more time â it wasn't even one of the Best Animated Feature nominees. Also, the best films assuredly did not win the Animated and Live Action Short categories. As Fred Willard would say, "Wha happened?"
On the plus side, since Atonement did not win Best Picture, I don't have to buy a beer from my colleague who predicted it would.
(Photo courtesy of Disney)