The sound of silence prevailed overnight at the Oscars ceremony, with The Artist taking a total of five awards.
As widely predicted, it took Best Picture and Best Director (for Michel Hazanavicius) as well as Original Score and Costumes. Leading man, Jean Dujardin, was also the winner in the two-horse race for the Best Actor statuette, beating Academy favourite George Clooney.
The remaining acting awards followed the script to the letter, with Meryl Streep winning her third Oscar after a 30 year gap for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Christopher Plummer became the oldest person to win an Oscar as he walked away with the Best Supporting Actor award, while Octavia Spencer beat fellow Help co-star Jessica Chastain to win Best Supporting Actress.
But it wasn’t a clean sweep for the French. Martin Scorcese’s Hugo also took five awards in the less glamorous technical categories – Best Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects. Woody Allen wasn’t around to pick up his “welcome back” prize of the Best Original Screenplay award, while Alexander Payne won his consolation prize of Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants.
Northern Ireland’s The Shore won Best Live Action Short Film, making it the only British winner of the night, while Best Original Song went to Man Or Muppet – guess which film that came from! – composed by Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame. With only two nominations, you have to wonder whether this category should be made optional.
Winning the Oscar doesn’t automatically bring long-lasting success. The last time a foreign film did well at the Academy Awards was in 1999 when Life Is Beautiful from Italy received seven nominations and won three, including Best Actor for Roberto Benigni (whose memorably described his heart as being “like a water melon” in his acceptance speech). Since then, he’s only appeared in a handful of films, one of which won him a Razzie. Hopefully, Monsieur Dujardin & Co won’t see their careers go in a similar direction.
And, in case you were wondering if Uggie turned up on the night, the answer is that he did! There was no cheesy little sketch with Billy Crystal but, in what was probably his last public appearance, he took his place – on a lead – with the cast and crew members on stage to accept the Best Picture award.
This isn’t quite the end of the awards season, but we now have a break until April 1st. The Golden Raspberry Awards, affectionately known as the Razzies, are usually handed out the day before the Oscars, but this year the organisers have decided to move their ceremony to April Fools’ Day. The nominations are out, and I’ll be covering them in my next posting. So don’t go away …….