And now, the Academy Awards have ended, leaving the public applauding some winners and scratching their heads over others. And so, I've taken the time to break down each of the categories, talking about who won and why. I did not watch the ceremony on television, so I can't necessarily speak about Billy Crystal's performance as host or for the dresses or anything like that. I just know the winners, and that's what I'll be talking about. For those of you who were following along with my Oscar predictions, you might be happy to know that I correctly predicted sixteen of the twenty-one categories where I made picks.
(Also, for your viewing pleasure, don't forget to check out my "Top 10 Films of 2011" list as well as my personal "Best of 2011" awards.)
Best Short Film, Live Action: The Shore
Because I'm not familiar with the short films, I did not make a prediction as to which of them would win; I also don't really have anything to say about them.
Best Short Film, Animated: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
(See: Best Short Film, Live Action.)
Best Documentary, Short Subjects: Saving Face
(See: Best Short Film, Live Action.)
Best Documentary, Features: Undefeated
I went into this category a little blind, having not seen any of the nominated films, so I took a wild guess and went with Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory based on the fact that the Producers Guild had nominated it at their awards ceremony. What I didn't take into account was the fact that the Academy is a sucker for underdog stories, which is exactly what Undefeated is. It was critically acclaimed, but audiences have been less than thrilled by the film, but I guess the Academy decided to side with the critics here.
Best Visual Effects: Hugo
This might be the biggest surprise of the night, for me. I fully expected the Academy to honor the motion capture technology that brought Caesar to life in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, especially after the massive push to get Andy Serkis an acting nomination for his work on the role. Still, I have to applaud Hugo, my personal top film of the year, for taking another award, but I am still a bit flabbergasted.
Best Sound Editing: Hugo
I had this one pegged from the start. Hugo had been cleaning up in this category at previous awards ceremonies, so there was no reason to think the Academy wouldn't salute it here as well.
Best Sound Mixing: Hugo
(See: Sound Editing.)
Best Original Song: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets
This is probably the category I was most excited to see, if only because I was a little sad that The Muppets didn't receive more than just its one nomination here. Still, I'm glad to see it take the award, even if it was in an incredibly easy category.
Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource for The Artist
Taking on big-time composers like John Williams and Hans Zimmer couldn't have been easy, but Bource has already received quite a bit of praise for his score for The Artist. Would I have liked to see someone else win? Sure, but I can applaud Bource for his effort.
Best Makeup: The Iron Lady
After picking up a couple wins here and there, I thought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 might take home the award, but I was also very wary of The Iron Lady's ability to steal this one as well. If anything, I think the fact that Harry Potter, a well-received audience pleaser, lost to a sub-par drama goes to show that the Academy is still a bit set in their ways. It might be a few years before they'll actually start to recognize big-budget flicks, no matter how good they might be.
Best Costume Design: The Artist
This category is generally dominated by British period pieces, but it might have been a little too muddled with them this year. After Jane Eyre, Anonymous and W.E. all received nominations int this category, I had a feeling The Artist would swoop in and steal the award. And that's exactly what happened.
Best Art Direction: Hugo
(See: Best Sound Editing.)
Best Editing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I would have been shocked had they not thrown this one to David Fincher's film, even if there were some fantastic films nominated against it. This just seemed like the right choice from the start, and you knew it had to win an award somewhere.
Best Cinematography: Hugo
I'm a little miffed by this one, to be honest. Hugo hadn't won this category at any of the major awards, and I personally thought it would get thrown to either The Tree of Life, War Horse or The Artist. I can see where the merit lies, but I don't know whether this was the right decision by the Academy. Still, it gave Hugo five Oscar statuettes, so that's gotta count for something.
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
A Separation was nominated in other categories as well as this one, making it the front-runner. This one's no surprise.
Best Animated Film: Rango
With the omission of The Adventures of Tintin from this category's list of nominees, this was Rango's award to lose. That being said, I still think Rango might have taken the award even if Tintin had been included. But that's just me.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Despite stiff competition, I figured this category - not Best Actor - was the best chance The Descendants had to take home an Oscar statuette. And the fact that it beat out Hugo here helped spell Hugo's doom in the larger categories.
Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
You can never count Woody Allen out of any Oscar race, and the fact that Midnight in Paris had been dominating in this category at previous awards only helped cement its chances of taking home the Academy Award as well. Still, it had to beat out The Artist, so that has to be commended.
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
When Hazanavicius took the award for Best Director, it all but sealed The Artist's fate to take home Best Picture. Had Martin Scorsese managed to steal this award, we might have had a bit of drama going into the final award announcement, but alas, it didn't happen.
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer for The Help
Despite doing battle against co-star Jessica Chastain, Spencer managed to receive enough votes to win in a category that was lacking in real depth. Still, that can't take away from her fantastic performance in one of the more moving films of the year.
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer for Beginners
I called my prediction of Christopher Plummer in this category the safest bet at this year's Academy Award, and it did not disappoint. To see anyone else take home the award would have been the biggest upset of the night.
Best Actress: Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady
I honestly thought Viola Davis would find a way to take home this award, but the star power of Meryl Streep is just too strong. Even though she starred in a film that was lightyears behind The Help, her performance was strong enough to sway Academy voters. Still, I couldnt't help but whisper favoritism through the halls after this one was announced.
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin for The Artist
At the end of the night, I thought this category would be the biggest predictor as to what film might win Best Picture. If George Clooney managed to nab this award, I think it would have opened the way for Hugo to take the Best Picture steal. However, when Dujardin rightfully won Best Actor, it was essentially guaranteed that The Artist would walk home with Best Picture.
Best Picture: The Artist
And it did. Although I personally don't think it was the best film of the year, I have to applaud The Artist for all of the accolades it has managed to win this year.
I'd like to congratulate all of the winners and all of the nominees as well. I can't wait for next year's Academy Awards!