The Red Carpet was crowded with nominees and non-nominees alike, all making their way into the auditorium in what was the Kodak Theater until Kodak entered insolvency.
Host Billy Crystal owes Kodak a debt of gratitude for giving him so much extra material to work his humor with. By the appointed hour of 5:30 p.m. local time, everyone was in place and the show was launched.
Crystal’s opening was brilliantly and wittily written as it has been each of the 8 prior times he hosted Oscar’s biggest evening. There was even a kiss from George Clooney as Crystal stood in for the character of Clooney’s comatose wife from The Descendants, one of the films nominated for Best Picture.
The big awards were pretty much as predicted by the expert prognosticators. Christopher Plummer was finally rewarded with a long over-due award as Best Supporting Actor, for Beginners. In his acceptance speech he pointed out that he’d been carrying on a life-long love affair with Oscar, who was born barely two years before he was.
Fittingly his greatest thanks were reserved for his wife to whom he paid very high praise.
The clear favorite for Best Supporting Actress, Octavia Spencer continued her award winning ways as she received her first Oscar. She had a bit of trouble getting her acceptance comments out, as she was clearly overcome by the emotion of the moment.
Best Adapted Screenplay was a tough category to predict and in the end, the amazing Alexander Payne brought home his second Oscar for The Descendants, the adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ wonderful novel. Payne shared the award with his co-writers, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Payne dedicated his Oscar to his mother, whom he said had made him promise to do so, and he also gave a heartfelt thank you to Hart Hemmings who he described as a Hawaiian flower.
Best Original Screenplay went to the always absent Woody Allen, who clearly doesn’t think very highly of being honored by the Academy. His script for Midnight in Paris was a surprise winner as many thought the Oscar in this category would go instead to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist.
There were many who felt George Clooney might finally get his long-awaited Best Actor in a Leading Role award (he has a Best Supporting Actor), but it was not to be. Jean Dujardin received a much deserved Oscar for his work in The Artist. His speech was quite moving.
I was convinced Viola Davis would win for her role as Aibileen in The Help for Best Actress in a Leading Role. But instead, the eternal nominee, Meryl Streep, in her 17th Oscar nomination won her third award.
She now has two Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role and one Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting role.
Streep moves into some pretty elite company when it comes to actors who have three Oscars. Walter Brennan won three Best Supporting Actor awards. Ingrid Bergman and Jack Nicholson, like Streep have won two Best Lead awards and one Best Supporting award, each. If Ms Streep could somehow win another Oscar in a future year, she would tie the recordholder, Katherine Hepburn, who won 4 Best Leading Actress Awards.
Clint Eastwood also has four Oscars, but none for acting. He has two for directing and two for Best Picture.
Speaking of Best Picture, The Artist won this award, Thomas Langmann taking home the final Oscar of the evening.
The program was tightly directed, entertaining, including some close-up shots of the talented musicians who were performing, a fantastic performance by Cirque de Soleil. plenty of humor from Crystal and a poignant goodbye montage that seems to become more and more crowded with talent taken from us too soon.
Preparations for the 85th Oscars, believe it or not, will probably begin next week.