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The 83rd Academy Awards Choose The Safe Path

Mar 5, 2011 2:02:45 PM - thesundayleader.lk

By Sumaya Samarasinghe

The 83rd Academy Awards wrapped up just about a week ago with a twinge of disappointment on my part. To begin with, the two co-hosts, James Franco and Anne Hathaway completely failed to do the job in a professional manner.
Franco, who was also nominated for his brilliant performance in 127 Hours, seemed to have some other rendezvous to run to as he rushed and mumbled his way through his lines, looked strangely exhausted and even at times  bored to death. Hathaway smiled a lot and changed her outfits eight times, but at least she gave the impression that she was trying her very best to do the job and was even enjoying it. My bet is that next year, the organisers are going to go back to having presenters between the ages of 45 and 60! As for the winners, the Oscars were strangely predictable though the lack of statuettes taken away by The Social Network baffles me.

Going back to the winners The King’s Speech came out as this year’s champion. The  movie is indeed enjoyable but to the point of taking away three key Oscars: Best picture/Director/Actor was pushing it a little too much. There is nothing creative or daring in the film. It is a perfectly crafted piece of work which would have probably got an A minus  if it were a college assignment; and as I mentioned last month in my review of the film, one of its main flaws were casting errors. What it did lack was that little extra something which lingers in your memory a day after watching the film.

My biggest surprise was Natalie Portman receiving the best actress award for her role in Black Swan. Portman is a fantastic actress no doubt but she completely overacted the ‘troubled dancer’ role and seemed perpetually on the brink of tears. Plus it is very difficult for a non professional ballerina to get into the shoes of a real dancer and at moments, Portman looked stiff.

I am guessing that this time, once again, Hollywood was acknowledging the actress’s long career and the grueling physical preparation she put herself through for the part. She and her co-star Mila Kunis are said to have prepared themselves for six months, training eight hours a day and eating a maximum of 1200 calories a day! Robert de Niro in Raging Bull,  Hillary Swank in  Million Dollar Baby, Charlize Theron in  Monster are some of the many actors who came home with a statuette after putting themselves through some painful physical transformation for their Oscar winning roles.
Eventhough Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Winter’s Bone left many speechless, she is probably too young and too new as an actress to be rewarded with an Oscar. But Annette Bening in The Kids Are Alright and especially Michelle Williams — my personal favourite — in Blue Valentine gave such mesmerizing performances that I fail to understand why they were overlooked.

Another big disappointment was Leonardo di Caprio’s absence in the list of nominees for his edgy role in  Inception. That actor seems to be perpetually ignored but hopefully, he will get some kind of honorary Oscar before he turns 65! I do admit that  Inception was often confusing and one probably needs to watch it twice or thrice to understand the story, but that is the kind of film which leaves you wondering and thinking, and isn’t that the purpose of a creative piece of work?

My second big disappointment was the overlooking of David Fincher (The Social Network) as a director. He has shown immense versatility in his directing and an acknowledgement for his work would have made up for the bizarre ignoring of The Social Network in all the other categories.

On the whole, this year’s Oscars were “safe”, there were no surprises, no one declining to take their awards home, no risqué thank you speeches etc.
The end was rather sweet though when a large choir of children sang Over The Rainbow and all the winners of the night joined them on stage making the atmosphere more relaxed and less ‘perfectly scripted.’