by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN Contributing Writer
In a night where Oscar history was made, The Hurt Locker didn't just blow away the competition; it scrambled their collective molecules and reduced the other nine Best Picture nominees to nothingness. "There is no other way to describe it," said a visibly emotional Kathryn Bigelow after accepting the Best Director prize from presenter Barbra Streisand. 'This is the moment of a lifetime.'
The Iraq War thriller about a bomb disposal team trying to stay alive during the final month of their tour of duty took home six out of the nine Academy Awards for which it was nominated. Along with the final two golden statues of the evening, the film won for Mark Boal's Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. "You honor me and humble me with this," said a beaming Boal. "I was a reporter back from Iraq with the idea for a story about these men on the frontlines of an unpopular war. I thought it might make a movie. The result wildly exceeded my expectations."
As for the two films considered by most to be the eventual champion's fiercest rivals, both Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and James Cameron's - Bigelow's ex-husband - phenomenally successful Avatar had to settle for being also-rans. The former took home a lone and much-expected Oscar for Best Supporting Actor Christoph Waltz, while the latter had to settle for winning three technical awards for Best Cinematography, Art Direction and Visual Effects. "I always wanted to discover some new continent, and I thought I had to go this way and then I was introduced to Quentin Tarantino," said a giddy Waltz. "Quentin, with his unorthodox methods of navigation, this fearless explorer, took this ship across and brought it in with flying colors and that's why I'm here."
On the surprise front, Geoffrey Fletcher's win for Best Adapted Screenplay for Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire was a bit of shock, while Argentina's The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos) beating out both Germany's The White Ribbon and France's A Prophet was certainly unexpected. "I don't know what to say," said a shocked Fletcher as he eyed his Oscar. "This is for everybody who works on a dream every day [and for the] precious boys and girls everywhere."
Jeff Bridges held back tears as he happily took the stage looking to the sky to accept the Best Actor award for Crazy Heart. "Mom and dad, yeah, look!" he shouted triumphantly, "Whoo! My dad and my mom, they loved show biz so much. I remember my mom, getting all of us kids to entertain at her parties. & They loved show biz so much and I feel an extension of them. You know, this - this is honoring them as much as it is me."
The best speech of the night belonged to Sandra Bullock, who took home the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Blind Side. "Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?" she said with a shocked grin. "[To] everyone who's shown me kindness when it wasn't fashionable, I thank you. To everyone who was mean to me when it wasn't & George Clooney threw me in a pool years ago; I'm still holding a grudge."
But not all of her speech came off like a self-effacing comedy routine. "I would like to thank what this film is about for me, which are the moms that take care of the babies and the children, no matter where they come from. Those moms and parents never get thanked. I, in particular, failed to thank one. So, if I can take this moment to thank Helga B. for not letting me ride in cars with boys until I was 18, because she was right - I would've done what she said I was gonna do. For making me practice every day when I got home & she said to be an artist, you had to practice every day. And for reminding her daughters that there's no race, no religion, no class system, no color, nothing, no sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else. We are all deserving of love. So, to that trailblazer, who allowed me to have that."
To no one's particular surprise, Mo'Nique won the Best Supporting Actress award for her mesmerizing turn as a demonic mother in Precious, and while her speech wasn't as strong as her recent ones accepting awards at the Golden Globes and Friday's Independent Spirit ceremony, it was still memorable. "First, I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics," she said pointedly, almost as if she were responding to criticism levied her way during the weeks preceding the evening's telecast. "To my amazing husband Sidney, thank you for showing me that sometimes you have to forego doing what's popular in order to do what's right. And, baby, you were so right."
As for the show itself, other than an extremely satisfying opening monologue, hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin didn't have the best material in the world to work with, and many of their jokes fell so flat that the silence in the Kodak Theatre was practically deafening. Interpretative dance made its return during a segment honoring the Best Score nominees (Up composer Michael Giacchino won), and while an opening song and dance routine with a game Neil Patrick Harris had plenty of energy, it didn't add all that much to the proceedings. A somber James Taylor sang "In My Life" during the In Memoriam segment, while a large handful of The Breakfast Club reunited (along with Matthew Broderick and Macaulay Culkin) to honor lovingly revered 1980s filmmaker John Hughes.
Rounding out the awards, Up unsurprisingly took home the golden statue of Best Animated Feature, and The Cove swam past the competition to nab the trophy for Best Documentary. "Boy, never did I dream that making a flip book out of my third grade math book would lead to this," stated an elated Pete Docter, director of Up. "It was an incredible, incredible adventure making this movie, but the heart of it came from home. My kids, Nicholas and Ellie, and my amazing wife Amanda, you guys are the greatest adventure. Thank you."
Overall, the 82nd Academy Awards ran just over 210 minutes, prompting Steve Martin to exclaim at the end of the evening that things had gone on so long that "Avatar is now set in the past." Even so, and while some bits could have been cut to save time (like a poorly constructed salute to horror films), this year's show moved reasonably well and seldom proved to be boring. Besides, The Hurt Locker making history on multiple fronts pleases me so much I'm willing to give this year's telecast a hearty thumbs straight up. Next year's installment is going to have to go a long way to equal my present feelings of happiness.
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