Oscars 2011: A recap of Academy Award winners

Feb 28, 2011

Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday was online Monday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. ET to discuss this year's Academy Award winners, announced at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 27.

colin firth

Colin Firth accepts the award for best actor.

Photos: Red carpet fashions

Photos: The 83rd Academy Awards

Stuever: TV review


2011 Academy Awards

Good morning chatters! Sorry I'm late, I'm still processing everything that happened last night. Let's get yacking!

All things considered, I felt the Oscars started out great, but ended terribly. For the good points, I thought that bringing out Kirk Douglas to give the Best Supporting Actress Oscar was amazing. The man's what, 94, 95 years old? He may be walking with a cane and can barely speak intelligibly, but he's still got that fire in his belly, and it was a sure treat to see him return to the stage! (And I was laughing my socks off with Melissa Leo's F-bomb. I'm no prude.) I loved, also, seeing Billy Crystal make a surprise appearance. He's one of the best Oscar hosts ever, in my ever so humble opinion. Which leads me to the not-so-good points: Franco I felt was off-putting as an Oscar host (can't quite put my finger on why), though I though Anne Hathaway did a decent enough job. Hugh Jackman really looked uncomfortable, though, when she was playfully digging at him midway through. Where the show turned bad, I felt, was when the Academy not only snubbed Christopher Nolan again, but more or less gave him the middle finger by not giving Inception the Best Original Screenplay award. I can appreciate the emotional impact of The King's Speech, but Inception was one of the most creative, unique, and original films I've ever seen, and Nolan's losing the Original Screenplay award is an even worse snub than not getting a Best Director nomination. The moment when all bets were officially off was when Tom Hooper won the Best Director Oscar over David Fincher. Given the meticulous, methodical, and precise direction of The Social Network, I'm stunned that the Academy didn't reward him for such. And when you think about his fantastic body of work (Se7en, Zodiac, Benjamin Button, Fight Club), it feels heartbreaking to me that he lost a very deserving award.

Wow! You pretty much summed up my feelings exactly! I too was disappointed that Nolan at least didn't get the screenplay award. Really strange snub.

You put it so well I won't add my two cents. Thank you for getting us off to such a thoughtful, substantive start!

So many of us don't have TVs these days, why is it to ABC's benefit to not allow internet viewership of the ceremony? Their full access on the web was not available outside of the USA. Seems short sighted.

Very good point -- for all their 'nods' to the Web, iPhone apps, Autotunes, etc., they still seem caught in an unproductive old-versus-new-media paradigm. I haven't heard any overnight ratings info yet, but it will be interesting to see if changing the hosts worked, and/or if they'll see fit to change their Web policy next year.

On TV, I thought Mila Kunis had tatoos. I see in the newspaper it was lace. How did she look, overall, to you?

I thought she looked gorgeous but I always think she looks gorgeous! Honestly, I was chatting last night and only got fleeting glances of everyone -- but I did think she looked pretty.

My biggest (and really only) disappointment with the awards is that Roger Deakins didn't win for True Grit. Do you think the Academy went more with "dazzling" over simple beauty and elegance?

Totally agree with you! He's been nominated several times, but has never won, which I think is a movie crime. I loved his work on TRUE GRIT. Hope he gets his moment soon, richly deserved. (That said, I was happy that INCEPTION got some love, especially for its visuals.)

They made me badly yearn for Ricky Gervais. Or was that just me?

Yes, I have to admit that as much as I *adore* James Franco, that didn't seem to click. I thought Anne H. did a lovely job, although the chatters last night were getting a little bit annoyed with her "woo's" after every introduction...Still, I thought she brought good energy to the show, and *loved* her singing! More, please Miss Anne!

Why...just why? That's all I want to know.

I'm sure it seemed like such a good idea at the time. Plus, I did love the color. Who knows? She'll rebound from this with no problem. (And I thought her hair was perfect!)

...Was seeing Jennifer Hudson's glamorific transformation. Shazam!

As someone who put on her Freshman Ten in high school and went for her Freshman Twenty in college, I  am in awe of Jennifer Hudson's transformation -- I hope she feels as fantastic as she looks! Good for her!

Ann, what does it say about a show trying to skew younger that the best moment was from Kirk Douglas?

Exactly -- not to mention Randy Newman and David Seidler! And then bringing out Billy Crystal to a huge wave of applause....Lessons learned, people. Lessons learned. Bless Kirk Douglas, what an icon -- although I must admit I thought he took the "and another thing" bit just a *tad* too far! But he's entitled!

Musical openings are hokey, but they are also fun. Crystal's were terrific and Jackman knocked his out of the park - I would have liked to have seen Franco and Hathaway try. (Or at least do some more monologue-esque jokes after their taped piece - the thing w/ their grandmas was lame.)

I know, I loved that opening INCEPTION bit, but with Anne Hathaway's proven singing chops, I thought for sure they'd go with a musical number. I really think singing is essential in that role. (Paging Martin Short!)

Sure her speech was rambling, weird and profane. But her surprise and genuine sense of triumph felt very real. She got a lot of heat for her self-promoted "consider" ads, but she said it was because the media only wanted to focus on younger nominees, as someone who thought she was great on NBC's "Homicide" in the 90's I loved seeing her win.

You're a better person that I am. I thought her speech was disingenuous and graceless...But I'm a cynical critic! And I didn't wake up this morning with an Oscar under my pillow! So good for her -- she deserved the award, regardless of what ensued, and I'm sure it's incredibly daunting to be up there at that moment. Can't wait to see what she does next.

Am I the only person that thinks Natalie Portman can't act? Annette Bening got shafted. At least it didn't win best picture...Black Swan = most overrated picture of the year.

Awwww! I respectfully disagree. I thought Natalie Portman was nothing short of amazing in BLACK SWAN (a movie I did have reservations about). The most emblematic scene was the one they showed last night, where she's in a bathroom stall calling her mom after she gets the Swan Queen role. It just *undoes* me. I thought she hit it out of the park.

Was it me or did most of his comments were about attractive actresses...he went on and on with it...made him seem like a dirty old man...not classy Kirk.

Yes as I said, I think he might have taken it just a tad too far. But bless his heart and what courage he has. I'll never forget when he recovered from his stroke and the ensuing depression, and said he got through it by helping other people and not focusing on himself. I've never forgotten that. All praise be unto him!

With everything else going on, I can see how these don't get too much attention. However, every year I see the best animated and best live action short nominees (haven't been able to find the best documentary shorts), and every year I wonder what the voters are thinking. From a pure animation viewpoint, The Gruffalo and Madagascar had it all over The Lost Thing. While I didn't really connect with any of the live action shorts, I thought the African short Na Wewe, was far and away the most compelling. The Love Goddess was just plain goofy. Every year I think, these can't possibly be the best shorts of the year. But there is always next year..

Good for you for catching up with the shorts! (I thought the GOD OF LOVE director was absolutely adorable, by the way.) Luckily, we can still see all the nominees in DC, at the Landmark E Street and West End Cinema. Links coming up in five, four, three....

Here are the web sites for the theatres:

West End Cinema

Landmark E Street

I love the Oscars but why have they have gotten SO predictable lately? Is it because the Golden Globes and SAGs are gaining in credibility? I would have loved an upset in the acting categories. It makes for much less meaningful speeches because by now, we've heard a variation of it THREE times! The best acceptance speech of the night was the goofy NYU student who won for a short film.

My estimable colleague Jen Chaney and I were talking about this, and I think she's right: It's the Web. The Internet just gobbles up all things awards-related, word spreads, and things just become inevitable as the buzz takes hold. It really does make it less fun -- I kept hoping for some kind of upset last night, and honestly I can't think of one.

It's about time he won; he's had so many fantastic performances for which he hasn't even been nominated. Few actors stretch themselves (and transform themselves) as much as he does. And I thought it was nice that he brought Dickie to the Oscars and the Globes as his guest and recognized him.

Totally agree -- and I agree with you about his speech. Unlike Melissa Leo's, it was spontaneous and kind of off-the-rails, but not out of control. Just appropriately giddy and sweet, but not at the expense of the moment. Well played, Mr. Bale, well played!

So glad you share my opinion, Ann! I thought her speech seemed completely calculated and prepared. You'd think an Oscar-winning actress would be better at feigning surprise. The F-bomb was totally deliberate.

Aha, another vote for jaded cynicism! Yayzers!

If they wanted the younger demographic, why didn't they pick younger hosts who actually have some comedic shops? (Stiller, Rogan, even Robert Downey would be great). Are they so worried about insulting people that they've gone completely milquetoast? That show desparetely needed some good quips.

She is utterly flawless in that context -- as she was throughout awards season last year. Honestly actors should study her for those moments. She nails it -- self-deprecatory humor, winking sarcasm, sweetness and then sincerity when it's called for. Home run every time, and she also looked faboo!

Award season marathon goes on so long Toronto fest to last night, that frankly I'm just exhasuted from following it. Do actors go into withdrawl from no gowns and gift baskets?

Do you know what, from my conversations with them I honestly think they're kind of glad when it's over. I do think the run-up is fun for them in terms of hanging out with each other (when winners thank their fellow nominees I think it's because they've sincerely bonded at all the lunches and parties and pre-things). But wouldn't you just want to collapse in a pair of sweats and fuzzy socks? Like, for a week?

Will Leo's rambling speech brand her as a flake and  hurt her employment opportunities post-Oscar? (This was one of those situations where an orchestra shuffle-off cue would have helped the recipient.)

Hmmm...I don't think so. As she herself said, It's all about the work. I'm sure she's a total professional on the set, and that's what counts.

I thought her energy was good, her clothes were awesome, and she was working it. James Franco was a disappointment, though, and I usually like him. Clearly, they should have paired Hathaway with someone who can sing and dance - how about Matthew Morrison?

Love that idea! Some chatters last night also suggested Neal Patrick Harris, which I think is genius.

I'll admit there was no way I was going to sit around and watch the Oscars. However, I was pleased to hear about Trent Reznor's win. I absolutely love Nine Inch Nails, and I think Trent's an extremely talented guy. But still: among this year's winners, do you think he would have been considered "Most Unlikely to Ever Win an Academy Award"?

Yes that was one of the few times I shouted "Yes!!!" So glad he won. And that was a competitive category (the score for HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON was also quite wonderful). Good for him -- kind of makes up for Jonny Greenwood not even getting nominated for THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

Everyone in my office is convinced that Franco was stoned. I just thought he was trying to play up his FREAKS AND GEAKS image since no one knows what he's really like in real life anyway. Your thoughts?

Could be. I just think his natural energy level is extremely Zen and laid back (although I've never been in his immediate presence, that's just what I hear). I just think that host gig demands a whole different kind of energy than he possesses -- nobody's fault, just not a great mix of medium and messenger.

Colin Firth brought up a terrible possibility last night when he said, "I think my career just peaked." The Oscar curse so readily comes to mind, but one can only hope that this isn't their peak.

Oh I doubt it. Here's some good news: His next film is TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY (opposite Gary Oldman as George Smiley, but still). And look at it this way: He already has MAMMA MIA behind him! Got the ill-advised musical out of the way early!

I didn't tune to the telecast this year because I'm disappointed at the complete lack of ethnic diversity in the nominees. I'm still amazed in 2011, the Academy couldn't find a worthy nominee of Asian, Indian, African (etc.) decent.

Except, who made a worthy movie? No Barry Jenkins, no Lee Daniels, no Spike Lee...I agree with you that the lily-white nature of the Oscars this year was distressing, but that's because of the state of the industry in general, not that any movie got snubbed. Unless I'm forgetting something -- chatters? Feedback?

So many of the most nimble potential younger hosts are rocking on tv right now (McHale, Poehler, Fey, Jon Hamm, the Glee folks). Oscar's demand for a young comedic "movie star" who can also double as a host just left no room for a decent candidate. I'm surprised Franco did not draft Apatow to help w/ the writing. Instead of chilling at the Vanity Fair dinner, he could have been punching up the ceremony.

Very good point, and like the earlier chatter I like your "Glee" suggestion. That seems like a no-brainer.

And I never want to see Gwynth again. I sort of softened a bit because of "Glee", but she annoys the crap out of me. And I saw a bit of her "Emma" and the whole time her wonderful English accent sounded like it came from the back of her nose. Just ick.

I was kind of rooting for Gwyneth, just because I think she has a really swell singing voice... But the musical numbers in general felt more off than usual this year. Very strange.

Can anything be done about the lead up of other award shows that completely kill the suspense for the Oscars? I love Colin Firth but even I am tired of watching him try to reinvent acceptance speeches.

I'm afraid that train has left the station -- maybe you should go on a cruise from December till February -- and no Twittering!

Blame the studio suits and casting directors who package the films before the Academy can vote on them. There were roles that could have been played by women or men of color (Black Swan, Kids Are Alright) but they weren't cast that way. The few powerbrokers who can make diverse films (like Tyer Perry) made junk this year ("For Colored Girls...")

Good point -- I believe the term of art in L.A. is "we're going in a different direction with that role," meaning white, thank you very much, next. Hollywood is *very* slowly chipping away at it, but they're still way too slow in casting race-neutral roles in only one shade. Thanks for your keen observation!

I say this tongue in cheek but why have nominees present or host? Isn't the party for them? Why should they have to work when they are supposed to be appreciated?

Maybe it gives them something to do other than worry about whether they're going to win....

Even though I didnt think that the movie itself was Oscar worthy, I thought that For Colored Girls had some excellent acting performances and was surprised that none of the ladies were nominated. What do you think?

Very true -- but probably its ensemble nature militated against nominating specific performances. I agree there were amazing turns in that movie (Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, even Janet Jackson!)

The Oscar ceremony is a perfect opportunity for the Academy to showcase the nominations by allotting more time to extended clips, rather than to the unknowns who win best costume or special effects and then drone on forever thanking their third cousin twice removed. How come an industry that is so good at producing movies is so bad at producing an awards ceremony? I was snoring for 2/3rds of the three plus hours.

No, please, no more extended clips! I was actually happy to see fewer montages this year. Those make-a me crazy.

Ann, Are there any criterion that you're aware of for determining whether an actor is in a supporting or lead role? To me, Geoffrey Rush was a co-lead w/ Colin Firth. The movie was really about the 2 men. Also, the young girl in True Grit was a borderline lead as well.

Great question. According to my reading of the Oscar rules, there are no explicit criteria for what will be considered lead or supporting -- I believe it's at the discretion of the studio submitting the performance for consideration. So, Paramount obviously felt that Hailee Steinfeld had a better chance of getting nominated in the supporting category than in the lead. (If anyone out there knows better than I about this, please chime in!)

Hi, Ann! I think this was the least surprising winner list in a long time. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that the Academy didn't recognize "Inception" for anything other than technical awards, overlooked "The Social Network" for anything other than adapted screenplay, and passed up its (probable) last chance to recognize Annette Bening. (Of course, neither Christopher Nolan nor Mark Wahlberg were even nominated... but it's probably too late to gripe about that.) Am I barking up the wrong tree? Were you surprised by anything?

Nope, not a thing. I agree with you that this was the most foregone Oscars in a long time....The one possible surprise I thought might happen was that David Fincher might win for best director, but I think that was more wishful thinking on my part than anything else. Oh well, not every year can be a HURT LOCKER year!

How did Randy Newman win? Even if I hadn't gone into this year's Oscar-watching already tired of his songs (I can't tell the difference between the current one and any of his previous ones), I was thoroughly unimpressed by his song this year. I thought the duet from Tangled was gorgeous (and from a really under-appreciated movie), but would also have accepted a win from the 127 Hours song, since that was evocative and very different from the other songs out there. Is there some way in which this Randy Newman song was good, and I'm just missing it, or was this the Academy's way of generally recognizing him or generally recognizing Toy Story 3?

You know, as much as I worship Randy Newman and *loved* his speech, I agree that was not one of his stronger songs -- and I also agree that the TANGLED song was better. Can't figure that one out, maybe you're right that it was a chance to throw Pixar some love.

Was there a feeling that Bening was slighted? I do believe she was the only heavyweight in a flimsy, cliche-ridden movie. But her role was so brief compared to Portman's, there was no way Bening could win, IMO. "The Kids Are All Right" didn't belong in the Oscar line up, I can't figure out how strings were evidently pulled to get it in.

I'm not sure about slighted, I do think there's a lot of good will toward her and people in general would love to see her finally win. Hope she does one day.

Chatters I need to leave pretty soon, so I'm going to post your comments with a minimum of blah-blah so your wisdom can shine!

Re: the earlier point about hosts. Great work is being done by plenty of non-white stars...but on tv: Donald Golver, Audra MacDonald, Tay Diggs, Archie Punjabi, Aziz Anzari, etc. etc. Movie roles really seem to have shrunk to action films for teens, or indie festival dramas made by/for white people.

Great point re TV, agree on Audra and Archie, both terrific.

Kirk Douglas is old, but he was awesome. The Oscars should dip into it's deep bench of veterans for these things. (It would be great to see folks like Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Liza Minelli, or Gene Hackman pop up for fun.) Where it becomes tiresome is seeing Jack Nicholson sitting in the front row w/ sunglasses doing his Nicholson shtick - that, I did not miss.

Is Jeff Bridges the new Jack Nicholson? Discuss.

Was it just me, or did it seem that there was a lack of "BIG" stars at the ceremony last night? no george clooney, no jolie-pitts, no jack nicholson/al pacino/robert de niro, no julia roberts. to me, it seemed like there were alot of newbies and people who you wouldn't recognize if you saw them on the street. i understand wanting to show newer talent, but part of the glitz and glamour is to see the real "heavy hitters" of the industry.

Come to think of it, you're right; they obviously have no movies that need promoting right now. Next year, next year...

So much hype about which designer she would wear. What a let down! Haven't I seen that, I dunno, maybe in the 70's??? Did any design really go into that?

Ah, but she did rock that dress. Stunning.

This is at least the second year that the acting award nominees got individual intros. Jeff Bridges has the right tone and attitude to do it. Not many do, and I didn't think Sandra Bullock did as well. Since it is so hard to do well, they shouldn't do it. I also like Ann Hathaway. I don't like snark - it is corrosive and too much like mean girls.

Interesting, I actually thought SB did better than JB! Mixed feelings about those intro's, feels kind of WIZARD OF OZ-ish to me...But nice to take that moment.

Thought the set was especially "Wow!" Enjoyed the clips of GWTW, etc. Think the show could have used a little more of that sort of thing. It needed a little more "movie magic" interwoven thoughout. If I could make a suggestion to the academy, I would ask them to consider adding a half-hour "In Memoriam" show prior to the Red Carpet Show. That way they could show more of the movie community who are recently deceased, and perhaps even a memorable clip or bit of dialog that they're most famous for.

Loved that set too. Classy.

To the technical winners last night who smacked Governor Scott Walker last night when they gave a shout-out to their "fellow union members" in their acceptance speeches. Short, sweet, and to the point. No movie effects without unions! SOLIDARITY!

Well said! Thank you!

Is there any other kind?

As someone who just turned a young person on to THE MUSIC MAN, I'll say Yes. Yes there is.

Can we please put a moratorium on the use of "amazing" to describe anything that doesn't actually amaze? Just because something was fun, or paid well, or looked good, doesn't mean that it caused amazement. I suppose that it's the only three-syllable word most actress types can pronounce, but still...

Consider it banished! Incredible!

Opening montage clip was amusing, but the show itself was terrible. The written jokes were lame; Hathaway has a great voice, but the musical number she did made no sense in the scheme of the show; Franco tuned out, leaving Hathaway to make up for his lack of enthusiasm; the autotune clips also made no sense. It was just a terrible broadcast. Whenever I see her, I think I'll always remember Leo as being classless. Swearing, fake surprise, taking Douglas' cane walking off the stage was terrible too.

Another county heard from...


I'm sorry I have to leave on time today -- so I didn't get to some of your questions. Thanks so much for chatting and...See you at this exact same place next year! Bye everybody!

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Ann Hornaday
Ann Hornaday is a film critic for The Washington Post.
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