A quiet night for the Brits at the Oscars
Jason Korsner reports from LA
8 March 2010
Hollywood is returning to normal after a two-month long award season, which began with the Golden Globes back in January.
The season has been building to its climax – the Oscars – and for the final week, a stretch of Hollywood Boulevard has been closed off to prepare for the big night, for the building of bleacher seats, the laying of the red carpet and the erection of giant Oscar statues.
Many of the fans who fill the stadium seating are more interested in the dresses than the films that this event his been designed to celebrate.
Given how similar many of the results were, between the Globes and the Oscars, it almost makes you wonder why they don’t just stick with the one awards ceremony, although the final award of the season – the Oscar for Best Picture – at least confounded some of the experts.
In becoming the first woman to be voted the Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow also led her low budget film – The Hurt Locker – to the top prize. In both categories, she beat her ex-husband James Cameron, whose Avatar – the most expensive film of all time – took the Golden Globe for the Best Dramatic Film.
The Hurt Locker – about an American bomb disposal squad in Baghdad in 2002 – picked up six Oscars from its nine nominations – including Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Original Screenplay.
Avatar went away with just three prizes – for Art Direction, Visual Effects and Cinematography. This last award was seen as controversial, since the most visually impressive parts of the film were computer generated and not photographed at all.
This part of the Oscar telecast also raised a few eyebrows in Hollywood, since the work of the nominated Directors of Photography weren’t even shown to the audience – the one award, perhaps more than any others, where the the visual element is key and the nominees were simply listed, with not even still images.
The show itself lacked lustre, with the two co-hosts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, amusing, but hardly ever seen. Most of the screen time was taken by a succession of actors reading lists. Only Ben Stiller raised the bar – presenting the award for Best Make-Up – made up to look like a character from Avatar. He pointed out the irony that this was one of the few films where make-up was hardly an issue, because the aliens were all animated anyway.
After The Hurt Locker and Avatar, the next biggest winners of the night were Crazy Heart, Precious and Up.
In one of the most predictable awards of the night Crazy Heart won Best Leading Actor, for Jeff Bridges. It also took Best Original Song for its theme, The Weary Kind, by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.
Precious won Best Supporting Actress, for Mo’Nique and Best Adapted Screenplay (Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire). This was another upset, beating Up In The Air, which had triumphed at previous awards ceremonies. Britain’s In The Loop and An Education were also in the running in this category.
Up was the voted the Best Animated Feature as well as collecting the Best Score prize.
Sandra Bullock fought off competition from Meryl Streep – as well as Brits Carey Mulligan and Dame Helen Mirren – to take the Best Leading Actress Oscar for The Blind Side.
Another well sign-posted award was the first to be handed out – the Best Supporting Actor Oscar went to Christoph Waltz for playing the Jew Hunter in Inglourious Basterds – the film’s only win from eight nominations.
Another of the night’s few surprises was in the Foreign Language competition. The Oscar went not to the Cannes winner, Germany’s The White Ribbon or France’s A Prophet, which won the BAFTA and the inaugural London Star award at the London Film Festival – but to Argentina’s The Secret In Their Eyes.
The Best Animated Short Film went to France’s Logorama, beating Britain’s Nick Park’s A Matter of Loaf and Death.
The Best Live Action Short was The New Tenants an American/Danish co-production.
The Cove was the Best Feature Documentary and Music By Prudence won the Best Documentary Short.
Star Trek won the Best Make-Up and the only British winner of the night was The Young Victoria, for costume.
Once the formalities are out of the way, it’s time to party – first at the Academy’s official Governor’s Ball, upstairs at the Kodak Theatre and then the winners are ferried between a number of events, such as those hosted by Sir Elton John and Vanity Fair magazine.