Tuesday, February 28, 2012


JER: Sunday February 26th 2012 brought us the 84th Annual Academy Award presentation. It was, as is the annual tradition, a special and revered night that I always look forward to dearly. Some people start viewing football off-season and review players trading off to other teams, baseball players and how their early pre-season games fair…but I look at an entire year’s worth of hopefuls and begin picking- off or highlighting the films that begin filling in the slots that would garner the nominations and eventually win the coveted Oscar.

In review, let’s begin from the start and move on through to the anticipated finale.

Host Billy Crystal
The Host: Billy Crystal returned for his ninth appearance as host. Based off of his previous gigs, it had always been a sure bet that you got a full show of humor and hijinx with Mr. Crystal…yet, something didn’t quite jell this year. An older (63) Billy kept getting in the way and didn’t quite deliver enough punches as previous turns had seen. What was to blame? Possibly the eight year span since he last hosted back in 2004? Let’s just blame it on the fact that maybe it had been far too long since he had been on stage anywhere and needed to get his feet wet or re-learn how to peddle on that old bike again. If so, couldn’t he had found a playground to practice on before show time in front of…oh, I don’t know… millions of people?! Not really sure but it felt as if the hosting played ‘safe’ and didn’t take too many jabs at the expense of the honored guests or the industry they worked for, as he’d been known to do so in the past. The unfortunate thing that kept my interest focused on Crystal was to help answer the question that touted me throughout the course of the evening: Was he wearing a toupee or did he just have a really bad hair-dye job! Ouch!

Winner of 5 Awards: HUGO
Highlights: The Tech Winners: Not too many people know or even care about such categories like Sound Editing or Art Direction, but the Academy seems to think that the majority of the viewing audience does. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am not alone in the appreciation of such awards and many do really care, including me. But let’s be honest… the numbers would probably end with lots of zeros if a survey was taken about your least favorite nominations to which the reply would lean back towards the tech awards probably ranking up there along with Documentary Short and Live Action Short Film. I, however, am not speaking on behalf of the general public but rather of my own thoughts and opinions and I am always intrigued by the nominations and the wins. HUGO kicked off the winning trend in a big way…almost in an undefeated blaze of awards gathered that included Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Cinematography and Art Direction. That’s where the magic of HUGO would end totaling five wins from its high ranking eleven.
The trailer for Martin Scorsese's HUGO

Honorable Mention: The Governors Awards: Allow me to clarify this ceremony and its significance. Since 2009, the Governors Awards are a private and separate AMPAS (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Science)- hosted presentation that include the bestowing of the Irving Thalberg Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Academy Honorary Award. To help save time on the already lengthy ceremony of today, these awards are now distributed on its own special night in the Governors’ Ballroom located on the corner of Hollywood and Highland in Los Angeles. Oprah Winfrey received the Humanitarian Award, but the real winners I would like to highlight are two men who have made personal impacts in my life.

Honoree Dick Smith with Rick Baker
 Academy Honorary Award Winner: Dick Smith: He may not be a household name, but his contribution in Special Effects and the films he has worked on are both respected and highly recognized. His Make- Up Effects can be both enjoyed and thrilled by in THE EXORCIST, THE GODFATHER and his Award winning effects in AMADEUS. Mr. Smith is the architect that interned a young Rick Baker before he would go on to win his own respected Academy Awards in the field for AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and most recently THE WOLFMAN. For me, I expressed a serious interest in becoming a Make-Up Special Effects artist and found Mr. Smith to be an inspiration and a career I closely followed and continually remained awe with at his works of art on the screen for years to come.

James Earl Jones and Jer! (early 90's)
Academy Honorary Award Winner: James Earl Jones: For his brilliance in performances both in film and on stage, Mr. Jones is as powerful an actor as is his distinctive baritone tones that will always be best recognized as the voice of Darth Vader in the STAR WARS series. His acting credits span a variety of different genres and characters throughout his career including his nominated role in THE GREAT WHITE HOPE, COMING TO AMERICA, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, CONAN THE BARBARIAN and FIELD OF DREAMS. Having had the pleasure to have met Mr. Jones in person, I can only describe him as a towering but gentle giant. He does leave you in a sense of unworthiness, yet a man with a warm disposition that is personable and welcoming. Here is to both of you and congratulations!

Highlights: The Performance Awards: The evening proved to be one of passing out the right awards to those I felt deservingly should receive and not have a singular film sweep all of the majors.

Best Foreign Language Film: It came as no surprise to many that Iran’s submitted A SEPERATION would win this year. Crossing many tabooed barriers, the film deals with an Iranian couple dealing with real- life decisions during a break-up in their marriage… hardly a topic of discussion within certain religious channels. Writer/ Director Asghar Farhadi was moved by the award and accepted the Oscar on behalf of the Iranian community.
The fantastic and thrilling trailer for A SEPERATION

Best Picture: THE ARTIST won the prestigious award for 2011 as well as five of its ten nominations. You will remember Johnny Chazz bringing this film to our attention back late last year and our predictions soon followed. This was my film of choice. What makes THE ARTIST so unique and ground-breaking is that it is the first silent film since 1929’s WINGS to win a Best Picture award. Two of the other wins went to Best Costume Design and to Ludovic Bource’s Best Original Score whose music accompanied the film from start to finish, a typical expectancy during the silent era.

Jean Dujardin: Best Actor- THE ARTIST
Best Actor: Another ‘first’ is Jean Dujardin’s win, due to the fact that a Frenchman had never won the award previously. Dujardin was probably a surprise to many as the ‘sure bet’ seemed to had leaned towards George Clooney for THE DESCENDANTS. As Silent film star George Valentin, Dujardin dug into the very heart of the genesis of being an actor: relying solely on emotion, body language and facial characteristics to relay to an audience what needed to be said without saying it. Being that THE ARTIST is considered a foreign film of its own, a number of barriers were broken to convey what needed to be said on the screen and not rely on subtitles or dubbing over of original voices. It proved to be a literal spanking to all actors globally.

Michel Hazanavicius: Best Director- THE ARTIST
Best Director: Rounding off the fifth win for THE ARTIST was given to Michel Hazanavicius. His contribution to the film went beyond that of telling actors what to do… this was Hazanavicius’ baby. He wrote the story and script and had his wife, Best Supporting Actress nominee Berenice Bejo, co-star as Peppy Miller. Michel said that this was an homage to the Golden Age of Cinema, a time highly respected with many films making its way to his native France to be enjoyed. It was a long road for a Parisian to make it to Hollywood, but the journey was made and completed! Tres Bien, Monsieur!
It's Offical: Best Picture of 2011- THE ARTIST!
Meryl Streep: Best Actress
Best Actress: Wowing an audience was Meryl Streep’s win for her portrayal of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in THE IRON LADY. Streep herself was genuinely taken back as well since the odds seemed to favor Viola Davis in THE HELP. Her acceptance was 30 years in the making since her last Best Actress win for SOPHIE’S CHOICE in 1982. Streep jokingly poked fun at the occasion stating that she knew the viewing audience wasn’t expecting her to take the award this year… she then blew it off with a calm reply, “Oh well.”

Plummer and Davis: Supporting Winners

BestSupporting Roles: If there is such a thing as a ‘sure bet’, then it definitely belonged to the two actors, respectfully, who won in these categories. Octavia Spencer nabbed Best Supporting Actress for her memorable portrayal of Southern housekeeper Minny Jackson in THE HELP. The role seemed tailor-fit for Ms. Spencer and would have been considered unconceivable to imagine anyone else in the role. The Best Supporting Actor award went to 82 year old Christopher Plummer in BEGINNERS. Mr. Plummer’s win marks the oldest living actor to receive the Academy Award. The previous title was held by Jessica Tandy, who was 80 year old when she won Best Actress in 1991 for DRIVING MISS DAISY.

Lengthy, enjoyable, boring or exhilarating might be but a few adjectives used to describe the three and a half hour presentation, but one thing stands above it all: OSCARS! The glitz, the glamour and the surprise few words that follow the opening of the envelope as everyone holds tight for the reply as the presenter says, “And the Oscar goes to…”
Highlight: Billy Crystal's funny Opening Montage with film clips

What was your take on the winners or losers this year? Did your favorites win and did you feel a grave oversight was made? Please chime in and give us your opinions and comments. Please check back with us when JOHNNY CHAZZ selects the next topic of film discussion on Wednesday March 14, 2012!

Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!

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