The 2011 Academy Awards

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 27 2011 9:14 PM

The 2011 Academy Awards

It's the day of the show, y'all!

The 83rd annual Academy Awards have  just begun on ABC Slate sters will be tweeting the telecast till the bitter end you can follow along  here

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The evening began with a filmed parody of  Inception : With Leonardo DiCaprio's help, co-hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway journey into Alec Baldwin's subconscious, intent on learning the secret to being successful Oscars emcees. As they drop deeper into Baldwin's dream narrated by Morgan Freeman, naturally they visit another best picture nominee. At the end, the two young hosts discover,  Wizard of Oz  style, that they've had the right stuff all along and merrily head off to the Kodak Theater in  Dr. Emmett Brown's DeLorean . (Was there a  Back to the Future  anniversary I missed?)

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There were a few punchlines in the opener that managed to elicit a weak titter, like when Hathaway announced on the  King's Speech  level that she had "good news from the future: microphones get smaller." And there were some choice sight gags, like Franco wearing a bear suit in the  True Grit  portion. But mostly it made us wish we, too, had a juice pack full of Ambien.

Will the evening get better from here? Stay tuned.  

UPDATE

Turns out that juice pack would have been redundant.

Tonight's telecast wasso tedious, a spontaneousF-bomb from Melissa Leo passed as grand entertainment. Even Helena BonhamCarter, who can usually be trusted to liven things up by showing up in somekind of Isabella Blow-meets-Edward Scissorhands ensemble, kept it relativelysedate .

You can't blame game,gorgeous co-host Anne Hathaway for not trying: She really did her best to sell the whole "fresh young Oscar host" thing,though as the night wore on her giggles and coos started to soundpretty desperate. YOU ARE A GROWN WOMAN, ANNE HATHAWAY! I know you did all those princess movies ,and you have those big Kewpie eyes that are really hard to work against, but comeon, you're better than this. I did enjoy your rendition of "On My Own," though,as I'm a sucker for a solid Les Miz reference and, unlike Gwyneth Paltrow, you can actually sing. Meanwhile, abored Internet spent much of its time wondering what exactly co-host James Franco was smoking. ( OprahWinfrey's air , I imagine?)

The races themselves providedlittle by way of suspense or excitement. The big five went exactly as predicted : The King's Speech for best pictureand best actor, Colin Firth; Black Swan 'sNatalie Portman for best actress; and TheFighter 's Christian Bale and Melissa Leo for best supporting performers.

The King's Speech also won best original screenplay. Writer DavidSeidler delivered a moving acceptance speech in which the 74-year-olddeadpanned that his father "always said to me I'd be a late bloomer," beforegiving a shout-out to his fellow stutterers :"We have a voice, we have been heard."

In its final win of theevening, The King's Speech 's TomHooper took home the best director statuette, stirring up some indignation fromfans of The Social Network who feltDavid Fincher was robbed. The Facebook saga did take home best adaptedscreenplay, as everyone knew it would, as well as best editing and bestoriginal score .

Of the year's other bigfilms, True Grit went home empty-handed,while Inception received a clutch oftechnical awards, winning for visual effects, sound editing and sound mixing,as well as cinematography.

Even though Roger Ebert tweeted that it was the "worst Oscarcast I've seen," there were a few glimmers of reliefin the long, long night. My favorites:

  • Kirk Douglas chastising Hugh Jackman for laughing during his presentation. "Everyone in Australia thinks they're funny. Colin Firth is not laughing!"
  • Francochanneling DanielDesario when he muttered under his breath, "Congratulations, nerds," afterthe announcement of the scientific and technical awards.
  • Makeupaward presenter Cate Blanchett, upon seeing a clip from Wolfman , elegantly grimacing, "That's gross." (Possibly the biggestlaugh-getter of the night.)
  • BarackObama's surprise appearance at the end of a montage in which people named theirfavorite best song winners. (The POTUS's choice: "As Time Goes By.")
  • Auto-Tuningthe Oscars:

 

  • Franco'sbit about how so many of the films this year have inappropriate titles. " Winter's Bone . Rabbit Hole .... How to Train Your Dragon. That's disgusting."
  • TomHooper's anecdote about how his mom went to see a reading of the play The King's Speech and then called him tosay she'd found his next film. "The moral of the story is: Listen to yourmother."

Which parts did youenjoy if you managed to stay up for all of it?

 

Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.

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