'Hurt Locker' wins six Academy Awards, besting 'Avatar'
In an Academy Award ceremony that felt curiously old-school and devoid of suspense, “The hurt Locker” emerged as the night’s winner — just as many predicted.
In a Sunday-night showdown that could be described as Big Movie (“Avatar”) vs. little Movie (“Hurt Locker”), the little movie won the big awards: best picture, director, original screenplay, editing. overall, the suspenseful Iraq-war drama won six Oscars (out of nine nominations), the most of any film that evening. “Avatar” won three, for its cinematography, art direction and visual effects.
Director Kathryn Bigelow made history by becoming the first woman to win the directing award (presented to her, interestingly, by Barbra Streisand, famously non-nominated as the director of “The Prince of Tides” back in the ’90s). Bigelow dedicated the award to “women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world, and may they come home safe.”
The acting awards, however, all went to different films. Jeff Bridges, as widely expected, won best actor for his mesmerizing performance as a worn-down country singer in “Crazy Heart.” it was a first Oscar for Bridges, but his fifth nomination — the first of which, for “The Last Picture Show,” was nearly 40 years ago. In his speech, he reminisced about his show-business parents (actors Lloyd Bridges and Dorothy Dean Bridges), charmingly thanking them for “turning me on to such a groovy profession.”
Some had anticipated an upset in the best-actress category: Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) had been sweeping the pre-Oscar awards, but any of the nominees — particularly Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”) or Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”) — seemed like they could surprise. But Bullock’s name was in the envelope, and she graciously acknowledged the talent of her fellow nominees, concluding with a tearful tribute to her mother and to all mothers “who take care of the babies and children, no matter where they come from.”
Least suspenseful of all were the supporting-actor categories, which seemed to have been decided months ago. it seemed almost unfair to Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”) and Mo’Nique (“Precious”) that we’ve been watching them give award speeches for months, and could recite along with the presenters as their names were announced. Nonetheless, both gave graceful thanks — particularly Mo’Nique, who pointedly acknowledged the Academy for “showing it can be about the performance, rather than the politics” (a reference, presumably, to her reluctance to “campaign” for the award).
“Up” won the unusually strong animated-feature category, with director Pete Docter noting, “Boy, never did I dream that making a flip book out of my third-grade math book would lead to this.” Sandy Powell, winner of the costume-design award for “The Young Victoria,” dedicated her award to “the costume designers that don’t do movies about dead monarchs or glittery musicals,” who, she said, don’t get the attention they deserve.
“The Cove,” winner of the best-documentary award at the Seattle International Film Festival last year, won that Oscar category, too. the locally made short documentary “The Last Campaign of Booth Gardner,” however, lost to “Music by Prudence.”
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” from Argentina, won best foreign-language film; it has not yet had a theatrical release in the Seattle area.
Hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were a bit hit-and-miss; sometimes very funny (Martin pointed out that Streep holds the record for “as I prefer to think of it, the most losses,” which Streep, bless her, found hilarious), sometimes strained as they stretched out the opening segment. the show ran a half-hour over its planned time, smoothly covered by Martin in the closing seconds: “The show is so long that ‘Avatar’ now takes place in the past.”
But … why did Neil Patrick Harris show up in a sequined jacket and sing in the opening minutes, surrounded by a troupe of more-or-less naked women with fans? did everyone forget this wasn’t the Tonys? And I know the Oscars are all about time-saving, which is why honorary awards are now given on an earlier date, but it is never OK to deny a speech opportunity to Lauren Bacall, who won the equivalent of Oscar’s lifetime achievement award (along with producer/director Roger Corman and cinematographer Gordon Willis). why save time only in order to watch people break-dance to the “Sherlock Holmes” score?
Finally, in the all-important category of spouse-thanking, top honors go to Ryan Bingham, who won best song (“The Weary Kind,” from “Crazy Heart,” with the impressively silent T Bone Burnett) and said to his wife, “I love you more than rainbows, baby.” wish I could say the same for the ceremony, but hey, maybe next year.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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