February 29, 2012

sweeps 2011 Oscars

For the ninth time, the world welcomed Billy Crystal as host of the Academy Awards. In his opening monologue on Sunday, Feb. 26 he said “movies have always been there for us. They’re the place to go to laugh, to cry, to question, to text,” and Knox students were eager to see the winners announced and get a little work done while they waited.
The Academy Awards provided sophomore Grace Moran with the perfect background noise as she finished her homework. Of course, the Oscars are not just about awards, but also the jokes, dresses and sideshows.
“Cirque du Soleil was great; all the other ones were kind of cheesy. But I really liked that one a lot,” Moran said.
“It was on the whole time, but my attention was only half there. I kind of tuned in more for the bigger awards,” Moran said, going on to say that she is not a consistent Oscar viewer.
Sophomore Bekah Lauer said she tried to watch the Oscars most years and spent a chunk of Sunday evening trying to convince her friend to watch it with her, but was able to catch all of the “major awards” like Best Picture and Best Actress, the two awards she was most interested in.
Of “The Artist” sweeping Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture, Lauer said, “I was a little disappointed, to be honest. I kind of wanted ‘The Descendents’ to win, but if ‘The Artist’ can win without speaking, it must be really amazing. It must have incredible acting.”
“I haven’t seen ‘The Artist,’ but I really want to. I wasn’t too surprised that it did so well, it sounds like it’s really incredible,” Moran said. “The only thing I found a bit surprising was that Viola Davis didn’t win [Best Actress] for ‘The Help.’”
The award, which did go to Jean Dejardin for Actor in a Leading Role “was clearly deserving,” Lauer said.
“Sometimes acting doesn’t need words and clearly his portrayal was so good, he didn’t. According to Lauer, “’Moneyball,’ was a fine movie, but I don’t think that it really deserved all of its nominations. Brad Pitt was good, but this wasn’t like the best movie of the year, I just didn’t think it belonged in this group.”
Lauer said she was thrilled to see Meryl Streep accept another Academy Award.
“I love Meryl Streep; she’s awesome. She’s always the best,” she said.

Best Picture
The most prestigious of the academy-awards, Best Picture went to “The Artist.” Set in Hollywood in 1927, old Hollywood is set against the new with silent movie star George Valentin questioning the future of his career when pitted against talking pictures. In a cross between a silent and modern film, Valentin speaks only twice on screen and phenomenal music helps to carry the performance. It is a genuinely unique film, which in and of itself is an astounding accomplishment, but the unique blend of classic taste with modern infusion makes this film thoroughly deserving of such a high honor.

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius served as writer and director for “The Artist.” When the film took Best Picture, it was no surprise that it would take Best Director as well. Hazanavicius beat out fellow nominees Scorsese and Woody Allen.

Actor in a Leading Role
Jean Dejardin took the award for Best Actor for his performance as George Valentin in “The Artist.” Fellow nominees included George Clooney and Brad Pitt. To be able to compete with the Hollywood greats without a voice for much of the film demands the utmost command of subtlety, something Dejardin does with seeming ease.

Actress in a Leading Role
Meryl Streep took this award for her performance in “The Iron Lady.” You have to be crazy to say that Meryl Streep doesn’t deserve an academy award. Ever. She is just one of those amazing people who pours her heart and soul into every role, which is probably why she holds the record – 17 – for most nominations.
“The Iron Lady” tells the story of Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the UK. Streep is commanding, as always, in her role as she shows the price Thatcher paid to maintain her political position. Though Streep was undoubtedly deserving, it was a pity Viola Davis — who also delivered an unforgettable performance — from “The Help,” was unable to receive the award.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christopher Plummer took the oscar for “Beginners” and set a new record; at 82, he is the oldest person ever to win an Academy Award. Plummer plays a father who turns his son’s world upside down when he announces that he has terminal cancer and that he’s taken a young male lover. A touching film, Plummer commands an audience, but retains his vulnerability as a character.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Octavia Spencer took the award for “The Help,” based on the book by Kathryn Stockett. Based in the 1960s, this film tells the story of a white woman turning into a civil rights activist who decides to write a book from the perspective of “the help,” the maids the white women employ. This film is amazing simply because it is every bit as good as the original, which is truly an accomplishment. It was a pleasure to see Spencer “thank the Academy for putting [her] with the hottest guy in the room [her Oscar].”

Writing (Adpated Screenplay)
As anyone who bore witness to the writers’ strike a few years back can tell you, the writers are important. Without them, we are all forced to sit through seemingly endless rants devoid of their humor, and the world is a dark and scary place. Also, it’s hard to make a movie without them. Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash took the award for adapted screenplay in “The Descendants,” based on the book by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Starring Geoge Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller, the film is about a land baron and his efforts to rekindle a relationship with his daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
When you grow up, you want to be Woody Allen — you may not realize it right now, but you do. A master of dialogue, his screenplay for “Midnight in Paris,” a delightfully witty movie with a clever and romantic twist, took the award for best original screenplay.

Samantha Paul
Samantha Paul is a senior double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She previously served as both a news reporter and a copy editor for TKS. During the summer of 2012, Sam served as press chair of a literacy brigade in El Salvador. She has also interned with both Bloom Magazine and The Galesburg Register-Mail. At Knox, Sam is an organizational editor for Catch magazine.

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