I did a long post going through all of the Oscar nominations here so I'll keep this fairly brief and not get into every single category.
The Artist and Hugo were the big winners this year. Both are movies about cinema. The Artist won five awards including Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Picture. Hugo also won five awards including Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.
I didn't watch many 2011 films so I wasn't too surprised that the only movie to win an Oscar this year that I had seen was The Muppets! "Man or Muppet" certainly deserved to win Best Original Song. However, only one other song ("Real in Rio" from Rio) was nominated so it didn't have much competition.
I was a little surprised that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 didn't win any of the categories it was nominated for. I figured that the Academy would throw the series a bone in its final installment like they did for Lord of the Rings. I still think the Harry Potter series deserves a special achievement award for making a series of eight films with (mostly) the same actors and no true clunker.
I am happy that Christopher Plummer finally won his first Oscar! His role in The Beginners got him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. I would have been happy if any of the other nominees for this category won except for Jonah Hill. To be fair I haven't seen Moneyball yet, but it would be a travesty if he had won an Oscar and Plummer, von Sydow, Nolte, and Branagh had not.
Meryl Streep won her third Oscar and first in almost thirty years. Streep went twelve straight nominations without a win until her performance in The Iron Lady. I wish she won for her role in Adaptation but at least she has won multiple Academy Awards, something not many actors and actresses can say.
I'm glad that Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Transformers: Dark of the Moon did not win any awards! I thought that Rise of the Planet of the Apes would win Best Visual Effects but it lost to Hugo. Brad Pitt and Gary Oldman didn't win, but I have a feeling they will both be nominated again very soon. I can't believe that this year was Gary Oldman's first Oscar nomination! I hope both these actors are able to win an Academy Award someday.
I was disappointed that The Tree of Life did not win any of the three awards it was nominated for. I didn't think it would win Best Picture or that Terrence Malick would win Best Director but I thought it had a good shot at Best Cinematography. For me this was like 2010 when District 9 was nominated for four Oscars but didn't win any of them. I was disappointed but not surprised that both film ended up winless in their respective years.
The Artist won both Best Director and Best Picture. As soon as the film won Best Director I knew it would win Best Picture. Over 70% of movies that have won Best Picture also win Best Director.
While I want to see The Artist and think it is something I will like, I do have two issues with the Academy giving it Best Picture. That does not mean I don't think it deserves to win Best Picture. I honestly can't really say since I haven't seen it or most of the other Best Picture nominations yet.
First, I hope that it didn't win just because it was a throw-back to the days of silent cinema but because it is a great film. A Star is Born (several versions, I actually haven't seen any yet), Sunset Blvd (1950) and Singin' in the Rain (1952) dealt with similar subject matter even though they weren't made as silent films. Sunset Blvd won three Oscars but none of the big awards other than Best Writing. Singin' in the Rain only got two nominations and didn't win either of them. Sure these weren't silent films themselves, but its possible the Academy might be trying to right some wrongs here. Or maybe the Academy wanted this to win so people would be more interested in silent film. While I think making the general public more aware about film history and silent film is great (of course I do, that is what my Tales from the Archives posts are all about!) giving a film an award it doesn't deserve is not the way of doing it. I'm not saying The Artist didn't deserve to win, I just hope that the Academy gave it Best Picture because they truly felt it was the best film from 2011 and not just for political reasons.
My second point isn't really about The Artist. When I first heard about The Artist I thought that a silent movie being made in this day and age was a great idea. But when I found out it was going to be filmed in Black & White and set in past I was a bit disappointed even though I still wanted to see it. I was hoping for a true modern silent film. A film with no dialogue but filmed in color like any movie of today's world, set in the present, and with no intertitles. I feel that this type of movie would be even more bold and daring than making a 1920s type silent movie that is a period piece. If there is a movie that exists like the one I described I'd love to see it. If not somebody should make it! And although I haven't seen Mel Brooks' Silent Movie (1976), that doesn't count since it was made over 35 years ago and it is more of a parody. I have heard that The Thief (1952) starring Ray Milland is one of the few films made in the post-silent era with synchronized sound that has no dialogue. This is still not quite what I'm looking for since its 60 years old and in Black & White. The Thief is pretty obscure and I only heard of it while researching this post. If there are any movies that fit the criteria I am looking for please let me know. I am sure there are some out there that I, and most people, are simply not aware of.
I must give credit where its due and congratulate The Artist for winning Best Picture while being a silent film in 2012. Even if its status as a silent film may have helped it win with the Academy, it is still quite an accomplishment in today's world. I can't wait to see it!
Switching gears a bit, the Razzie nominations were announced Saturday (February 25th). For those who don't know, the Golden Raspberry Awards were founded in 1981 to celebrate the worst in cinema. The Adam Sandler vehicle Jack and Jill received a record twelve Razzie nominations! Somehow The Smurfs did not get any nominations, probably because of Jack and Jill. The 32nd Razzie Awards ceremony will be on April 1st and I'll make a post about it when the time comes.