When Harry Met Sally

March 1, 2012 by staff 

When Harry Met Sally, Host Billy Crystal summed up this year’s Oscars perfectly when he quipped, “Nothing takes the sting out of these tough economic times like watching a bunch of millionaires giving golden statues to each other!” Yet another awards season has come and gone, and yet another audience has sat through Hollywood’s so-called “greatest night” during the 84th Annual Academy Awards.

Broadcast Sunday night, the show was off to an ominous start even before the red carpets rolled out, due in large part to Brett Ratner’s controversy-fueled resignation from being the show’s producer, and Eddie Murphy’s last-minute ditch from his hosting duties. Thankfully, though, Crystal graciously salvaged the ceremony, signing on to host his ninth Academy Awards telecast. The When Harry Met Sally star’s safe, charming ways provided a much-needed breath of fresh air, especially after an awards season dominated by awkward jabs, edgy jokes and scandalous hosting choices.

The night began, as always, with the sacred ritual of red carpet dress-critique, with Gwyneth Paltrow rolling up in a Tom Ford cape and Meryl Streep decked out in a gold number which seemed to foreshadow the Best Actress (The Iron Lady) award she would receive at the end of the night. The arrival of General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen’s newest alter ego), however, interrupted the usual swanky red carpet crawl. Cohen’s character obnoxiously fumbled an urn he was holding, covering the usually upbeat Ryan Seacrest in an apparently unexpected coat of ashes.

Mishaps aside, the night progressed in typical fashion, opening with a familiar montage of movie moments by Crystal, whose jokes were, for much of the night, hit or miss. Nevertheless, the montage was as poignant as ever, set to the tunes of an all-star band which included former Oscar winner A.R. Rahman and Pharrell Williams.

The technical awards began with a number of unexpected victories for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, which cleaned up the artistic and technical categories of Cinematography, Visual Effects and Sound Editing. Hugo also went on to win two more Golden Boys later in the night.

For the most part, though, the Academy Awards were just as unsurprising and kitschy as usual. The Oscars’ wrap-up music, of course, made its infamous appearance a few times, but thankfully not during the eloquent speeches of Octavia Spencer (The Help, Actress in a Supporting Role) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners, Best Actor in a Supporting Role). Plummer even managed to make history as he received his incredibly well-deserved first statue at the record-breaking age of 82.

Other winners were The Descendants (Best Adapted Screenplay), Midnight in Paris (Best Original Screenplay), A Separation (Best Foreign Language Film), Undefeated (Best Documentary Feature) and Rango (Best Animation Feature), none of which upset too many Oscar pools.

The greatest victors of the night, of course, were the cast and crew of the understandably acclaimed French silent film The Artist, which walked away with five of the Academy’s most coveted awards, including Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius, Best Actor for Jean Dujardin and Best Picture.

Even with all the predictable winners, it wouldn’t have been a successful 84th Annual Academy Awards without a Cirque du Soleil show designed to make our hamstrings hurt and Esperanza Spalding’s moving ‘In Memoriam’ tribute – ensuring the awards stayed true to its efforts to recognize the best of mainstream Hollywood cinema, with all the pomp that millionaires can muster.

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