It's (almost) all over but the dresses. But first we're counting down the ten takeaways from Oscar's 84th year. Your takeaways may vary of course but these are the ten things I expect I'll keep thinking about beyond the big night....
05 Jessica Chastain is a Girly Girl
Just when we started thinking of her as a Serious Serious Actress she showed up in awards season all giggling, bouncy, girlish. This doesn't mean she isn't a serious actor of course but it was rather a shock, even after speaking with her. Celia Foote's uninhibited enthusiasm in The Help might be the closest we've seen to the real woman behind the chameleon. This impression continued on Oscar night when she brought her Nana and went all womanchild shy and cuddly after her clip. Later during the Best Actress presentation she looked enormously worried for Viola Davis. No wonder she's an actress; her face registers every flush of big feeling.
04 Emmanuel Lubezki Is Never Going To Win an Oscar
I was more sure that "Chivo" aka Emmanuel Lubezki would lose the cinematography Oscar for The Tree of Life than I was sure who would win it. I predicted The Artist but the prize went to Robert Richardson (Oscar #3) for Hugo. Lately AMPAS seems much more interested in cinematography as a complicated technical profession rather than a spiritual one that's all about light and tone and feeling. For the past three years Oscar has definitely preferred heavily processed CGI behemoths here. We hope they one day get back to movies that feel crafted by hand... and God. Like There Will Be Blood (which miraculously won).
Lubezki is brilliant but it's lost on the general voters. At least the cinematography branch knows his worth. He has the unique distinction of being nominated with frequency despite rarely lensing Best Picture nominees (which is rare) and despite not being inextricably tied to any one specific filmmaker (also rare). His nominations, all of them deserved (rarer still!), come from filmmakers as diverse as Alfonso Cuaron, Terrence Malick and Tim Burton.
03 Best Presenter: Emma Stone
Easy A was such a confident comic star turn that it was inevitable that she would ascend but it's delightful that she's just as funny at the big show as on the big screen. Entering the stage to present strenuously waving, emphatically gesturing, widely grinning, Emma Stone was so keyed up you had to ask if she was for real. Before she spoke you were caught for an instant on the line between 'is this a skit? and 'ohmygod she is really into this' which, as it turns out, was the skit.
We are here tonight to present the award for visual effectsTHIS IS MY FIRST TIME PRESENTING AN AWARD. Hiiiiiii.
Waitwaitwaitwait let's stop rushing. We should have some banter.
What joy. Emma is just as funny as herself. Or maybe as Anne Hathaway, if you take this as a comic send up of that ill fated Oscar hosting last year. (In tonight's performance Ben Stiller will be playing the supporting of the less stoned but equally dull James Franco there only to bring his partner down). From Stone's unbridled enthusiasm to her ADD Show Person energy to the spontaneous singing... Was it too Mean Girl? I am crazy in love with Anne Hathaway myself but I laughed and laughed.
(Runners up: The Bridesmaids "SCORSESE!!!!!" [knocks back drink]. It was smart to give the six of them the three short film awards as their numbers dwindled on stage. I only wish they could've had a Sound of Music send off or some comic interstitial to shoo each other off the stage 'adieu adieu to you and you and you'. Distant third: Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr in "The Presenter")
02 Meryl Streep's Third Win. Be Careful What You Wish For
As previously discussed... but also the night's best speech. (Streep would have had a rival in Christopher Plummer but for his speech being in syndication for a couple of months now)
01 They Weren't Fooling Around With 'The Year of Nostalgia'
The Oscar Producers will see your Hugo and The Artist and The Help and War Horse and The Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris and every other backwards gazing collage of deeply felt memories, shared at the movies or privately recreated by or vicariously lived through the movies and they'll raise you Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep Winning, Tom Hanks all over the place, Cameron Diaz, and Billy Crystal thawed from his cryogenic freeze. If you squint your eyes a little this ceremony took place in...1994.
What will you take away from the 84th Oscars?
Are you already dreaming of the 85th?