If there were any surprises at this year's Oscar ceremony, they were:
(1) The Artist did not sweep all it's nominated categories, losing a number to Hugo (while retaining the big ones)
(2) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won two of it's categories, in both Film and Sound Editing, not too shabby
(3) While not a 100% surprise, I think after the SAG Award win by Viola Davis for Best Female Actor (The Help) there was some expectation that this fine actress would finally be rewarded with Oscar gold, especially since her movie has a Best Picture nomination and that of the victor did not. However, Meryl Streep finally won again 30 years after her previous win for Sophie's Choice and I think it was due to five factors.
- Most importantly, she played a significant historical figure convincingly and aged tremendously in the role as well. That's pretty much a recipe for an acting Oscar.
- Second, the 17 nominations have been touted heavily this year, pushed by producer Harvey Weinstein and his p.r. machine, so it's a bit of a career award as well.
- Third, The Help has taken some hits from the left tarred as being too Civil Right-light. I think this is unfair considering how Hollywood traditionally makes serious "issue" movies, but it could not have helped.
- Fourth, some thought Viola Davis' role was not large enough to be Best Female Actor and more of a supporting role, although that view is really only supported by the trailer for the movie, which over-emphasizes Emma Stone's crusading white girl character, while the movie is clearly Viola's story in the main plot, giving her the V.O., the beginning and the end.
- Finally, the Academy is generally old, male and white...and Meryl is a lot closer to their demographic than Viola. One can only hope her .
At this point I find it hard to get up in arms about any Oscar slights. My three favorite films of last year, in rough order, were:
- The Tree of Life
So there were a few nominations in the bunch, but no wins. But I still got to enjoy these movies and I expect to see them again long before I rematch The Artist, which I did enjoy, albeit not at the same level as these three.
As the director and lead actor of The Artist (both Oscar winners tonight) might say:
C'est la vie.