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Review of 2010: Oscar Night Reaction & General Reflection

Jennifer Hudson bids farewell to 2010.
Last night was one of the strangest Oscar ceremonies in recent memory, and I'm not solely talking about the outlandish behaviour of a certain James Franco. With the possible exception of 2005, every year since I've been watching (2001-Present) has seen a decent tally of wins for the Best Picture victor, especially when they were particularly nailed-on for victory (Lord of the Rings, Slumdog Millionaire.) Moreover, the amount of times I've seen technical prizes tokenly handed out to Picture frontrunners in tick-the-box fashion, is downright obscene. Despite feeling reviled by the awardage of the big prize to "The King's Speech" I'm actually encouraged that the Academy appeared to consider the merits of each category more closely this year, awarding cinematography to "Inception" (a close second to "Black Swan" by my reckoning) and Best Original Score to the intricate score of "The Social Network," both of which remained cool outsiders in the betting.

The good parts of the ceremony largely entailed of a more sensible broadcast, short on montages and mini-introductions (we know what the nominated films are!), and back to substantial acting clips and song performances (which I believe in, despite their tendency to nominate terrible songs.) The bad emerged in the form of Celine Dion's excruciatingly sentimental accompaniment to the In Memoriam segment,  and the tacky sketch-style methods of the hosts, who just didn't seem to have the knack for this brand of comedy. I also felt that it was rather hurriedly ploughed through, managing to omit some of the staple unnecessary elements of the broadcast, but content to once again burden the winners with rashly-utilised exit music.

The Full List of Oscar Winners:

Best Picture: "The King’s Speech"
Best Director: Tom Hooper, "The King’s Speech"
Best Actor: Colin Firth, "The King’s Speech"
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network"
Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler, "The King’s Speech"
Best Animated Feature: "Toy Story 3"
Best Editing: Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter, "The Social Network"
Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister, "Inception"
Best Original Score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, "The Social Network"
Best Art Direction: "Alice in Wonderland"
Best Costume Design: "Alice in Wonderland"
Best Visual Effects: "Inception"
Best Make-Up: "The Wolfman"
Best Sound Mixing: "Inception"
Best Sound Editing: "Inception"
Best Song: We Belong Together, "Toy Story 3"
Best Documentary: "Inside Job"
Best Documentary Short: "Strangers No More"
Best Live Action Short: "God of Love"
Best Animated Short: "The Lost Thing"
Best Foreign Language Film: "In a Better World," Denmark

Best Speech: Charles Ferguson, director of "Inside Job," whose only fault at the podium was not being Banksy. Keep knocking those bankers down.

Worst Speech: Tom Hooper, who does little for the white-British stereotype that we're all well-to-do and listen to our mothers.

Most Satisfying Victory: Aaron Sorkin's screenplay victory must rank as one of the finest in the category for a long, long time.

Least Satisfying Victory: I'm trying not to sound too bitter, but again, it has to be Tom Hooper. It's no wonder he looked like the cat that got the cream, when he beat such visionary opponents with a film that feels so visually drab and lifeless.

Thankfully for Colin, this rant is over.
Some Words about 2010 in General: From an Indie perspective, there was an awful lot to be encouraged about this year. I don't approve of a ten-wide Best Picture field, but it's heartening that smaller productions can gather a lot of traction from critical adoration and early popularity (see: "Winter's Bone" and "The Kids Are All Right") and gain multiple acting nominations in the process. I sincerely hope that this isn't a one-off, and I suspect it won't be, if American mainstream cinema continues to generally struggle.

The other key observation is that there simply is no accounting for taste. Connotative, schematic displays of "prestige" still rule the roost, but only when enough people rally behind them. One hopes that this royal triumph does not aid in slackening the tolerance towards gaudy shows of period elegance, but as ever, we'll have to wait until next year to find out.

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