After the 84th Academy Awards, Iran has its first Oscar. Asghar Farhadi, whose film A Separation unsurprisingly took the award for Best Foreign Language Film (it had been the heavy favourite since the nominations were released), took to the stage a read an impassioned speech on the political situation in his home country, where the film has caused a stir among government officials.
Also unsurprising was that The Artist, the bookies’ favourite for some time, took home most of the high-profile awards, though its final total of five was matched by Martin Scorsese’s nostalgic Hugo, which swept the technical categories. The Descendants, which had five nominations, won only once; in the Adapted Screenplay category.
The Artist won for Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius), Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), Best Original Score (Ludovic Bource), Best Costume Design (Mark Bridges) and Best Picture. So it’s fair to say that the well-liked French film ‘won’ the Oscars 2012.
The biggest surprise of the night was probably Sacha Baron Cohen’s stunt (performed in character to promote his forthcoming film The Dictator) on the red carpet, in which he tipped an urn of ashes (supposedly those of former North Korean leader Kim-Jong-il) over television presenter Ryan Seacrest. He was cordially escorted from the premises.
Meryl Streep had become the hot favourite for the Best Actress gong for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, a film that was not universally praised, but which garnered a lot of accolades for her part in it. Octavia Spencer, meanwhile, won Best Supporting Actress for The Help, another film in which the performances were perhaps praised more than the overall project. Hers was one of the more emotional speeches of the night. Brett McKenzie won a hilariously uncompetitive category for Best Original Song (which just by being nominated you had a 50 percent chance of winning); that’s not to say he didn’t deserve it, though; Man or Muppet is a lovely piece from The Muppets. It’s perhaps a little surprising that Rango won in the Best Animated Feature category, above Chico and Rita, but it wasn’t a particularly strong year for animation. Woody Allen, meanwhile, took home the award for Best Original Screenplay, his first for many years after what has been the most financially successful film of his long career, Midnight in Paris.
All in all, it was a fairly safe evening with no real shocks. As often happens, we’re left with lingering thoughts of the many great films which won nothing, and in many cases were not even nominated. Honourable mentions to, among many others, Drive, Senna, Shame and We Need to Talk about Kevin.