The Artist, a black and white silent film evocative of a bygone era, won the hearts of Academy Award voters, netting Oscars in the Best Picture, Director, Actor, Costume Design and Score categories. Hugo won five times, too, but only for technical achievements.
After The Artist’s Jean Dujardin beat George Clooney for Best Actor, the foul-mouthed Frenchman not only broke his silence, but tricked the censors by saying the F-word in his native language during his exuberant acceptance speech. Maybe there’s a reason why silent film is his medium.
Dujardin wasn’t the only winner to resort to expletives, so did T.J. Wilson (Undefeated), the first African-American director to earn an Oscar for a full-length documentary. It’s difficult to discern exactly what T.J. said, since he was bleeped a couple times for his indiscretion. Also crossing a line was presenter Jennifer Lopez, whose daring dress failed to cover all of one of her areolas. Could this have been a deliberate wardrobe malfunction by J. Lo to have the fashion talk of Tinseltown revolve around her revealing evening gown?
But I digress. As this critic correctly predicted, Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) upset favorite Viola Davis (The Help) for Best Actress. Anybody else notice that naturally-coiffed Viola seemed to stand up as if to accept when Streep’s name was announced, as if she’d assumed she’d win?
Why did I forecast a Streep victory? My thinking was that the 94 percent White Academy would cast sentimental votes for her over a relative newcomer, especially since the perennial-nominee hadn’t won in 29 years. Plus, the members could easily avoid being labeled racist by simultaneously supporting Davis’ African-American cast mate Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress.
Replacement master of ceremonies Billy Crystal (for Eddie Murphy) did another excellent job, easily making everyone forget last year’s awkward attempts at comedy on the part of co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway. This go-round, the nine-time emcee revived such trademarks of his tenure as an opening song-and-dance as well as an inspired spoof of the Best Picture nominees via a movie montage.