When in the course of human events, a machine of such magnitude like the film "Avatar" -- a bloated, boring techno-fest of blue things running around a screen -- can steamroll its way to Oscar favoritude is sort of irritating.
However, every so often the Academy gets it right. Like they did tonight.
It's irrelevant -- to me, anyway -- that Kathryn Bigelow is the first female to win an Oscar for Best Direction. It's irrelevant that this evening could have seen an African-American win an Oscar for Best Direction for the first time.
They managed to get it right.
I didn't see all 50 films nominated for Best Picture (actually, there were only ten but it's just a matter of time before 50 wind up on the list); however, I did see Avatar (most of it, although I managed to get in some useful rest during the 2.5 hour film as well) and I saw The Hurt Locker, the latter at home on BluRay.
The Hurt Locker was and remains -- and will remain -- a memorable, powerful, intense film that will serve as a reminder of what war in the 21st Century really is: dangerous, intense, numbing, powerful and incredibly frightening. There have been incredibly portrayed films depicting war -- Platoon and Saving Private Ryan are but two of the better ones -- but The Hurt Locker grabs you by the balls and doesn't let you go until well after the credits have ceased to roll.
I'm not sure if the reason why I failed to fall asleep during The Hurt Locker was the intense soundtrack (every time a bomb exploded I felt it all around me and my couch shook) or simply the fact that the film -- and the performances therein -- were thoroughly riveting.
Overall, tonight -- for better or worse -- went according to what I had hoped. While I think Jeremy Renner's performance in The Hurt Locker was deserving of a Best Actor Oscar, I understand and agree with the choice of Jeff Bridges in that capacity, if only because his body of work -- not only in Crazy Heart, which I didn't see -- but his entire resume -- was deserving of accolade and an Oscar was well overdue. It's a shame -- just like The Hustler and West Side Story or Goodfellas and Gandhi -- that timing screws things up so badly for certain unfortunate films/performances. Had Jeremy Renner been nominated for this film last year, he would have been up on that stage -- and deservedly so.
Sandra Bullock has always been a talented, likable actress, but most of her performances have been in fluff, disposable films (not to mention Speed 2: The Waste of A Film). From everything I've seen and heard about The Blind Side, she deserved to win, and simply by her acceptance speech alone -- and not based on the fact that I've always admired and enjoyed her as an actress -- I'm glad she won. It hearkens back to Julia Roberts' Oscar win for Pretty Woman, except Julia Roberts' victory remains -- along with Marisa Tomei's for My Cousin Vinny -- somewhat out of left field. Yet, while it's somewhat of a head-scratcher, I suppose her win this evening confirms that if you are a good guy and you do good work, eventually someone -- or some Academy -- will acknowledge you for what you've accomplished. Good job.
Christoph Waltz won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor -- at least in my eyes -- the minute I walked out of the theater after having seen Inglourious Basterds. The film was entertaining and enthralling as is typical of a Tarantino picture, but his performance was -- by far -- the most far and away deserving of an Oscar of any of the people nominated for their work in front of the camera. And Monique's win for Precious was not a shock to me, although I would have chosen Maggie Gyllenhaal simply because I had heard incredible things about her performance. I'm glad, in retrospect, that Precious received acknowledgment, however, because I heard it was a strong, powerful film. Crazy Heart might have been a strong, powerful film as well, but I'm not unhappy that Monique won because from what I've read, hers was a performance worthy of an Oscar as well.
Finally, as far as the evening goes, my favorite part (of what I saw of) the Oscars was the spoof of Paranormal Activity (starring Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin) which preceded the Academy's Tribute to Horror Films. I won't elaborate, but I actually enjoyed the two-minute skit far more than the film itself.
And finally, something I learned this evening which I never knew was that Helen Mirren has a spider-web tattoo on her hand. If there was an Oscar for a woman 65 or older who remains incredibly sexy and whose talent knows no bounds, we might have seen her tattoo wrapped around another Oscar.
Alas...until the Academy further dilutes its rules and regulations, we'll just have to wait until next year. C'est la vie.
Congratulations to the Academy this year -- despite the ten films thing -- for not fucking it up.