Oscars 2012 - live blog
The List's lead film critic Hannah McGill delivers a play-by-play account of the big night
11.35pm The red carpet is underway. People nominated in obscure categories are meandering needily past the photographers, while publicists strop about holding signs that say things like ‘THIS PERSON HAS BEEN NOMINATED IN AN OBSCURE CATEGORY, PLEASE ACT AS IF YOU CARE’. It is always disconcerting to be reminded that the Oscars actually happen in broad daylight, at a normal time of day. That must dilute the intensity rather. How can it be any fun at all without having to stay up until unnatural hours fuelling yourself with biscuits and impotent rage?
11.40pm The Associated Press has seemingly assigned two work experience girls to cover the red carpet. They do not know who anyone is and they have not prepared any questions. They talk, rather frenziedly, to Shailene Woodley, who is wearing an Amish tablecloth and claims that Oscars were never even CONTEMPLATED during the making of The Descendants because when an artist paints a painting he does not consider in which gallery it will hang. But the night is young and we ration our derision carefully. Janet McTeer’s head arrives, followed moments later by the rest of her. That woman has a long neck.
11.56pm Things by which the AP work experience girls are befuddled: people of advanced age; people of non-sample size heft; people whose first language somehow fails to be English. They clearly regard the conferral of awards nomination upon such misbegotten freaks as an adorable quirk of Academy tradition. Glenn Close, they determine, ‘looks her age’. James Earl Jones is asked whether the red carpet is ‘the best part’, and somehow resists saying ‘DON’T BE BLOODY RIDICULOUS, WE HATE YOU PEOPLE’ in his Darth Vader voice. An encounter with Max Von Sydow is just unsettling, like watching brash explorers make contact with an ancient and consummately dignified forest tribe.
11.58pm Judd Apatow approaches with his date, who is not, as the work experience people think, nominee Kristen Wiig, but his wife Leslie Mann. The work experience people ask Mann if she is nervous, and Apatow if he is proud. The couple look politely baffled. This fertile moment of extreme awkwardness is obscured by some awkward jokes about Jonah Hill.
12.01am Clearly guilty about what they said about Glenn Close, the work experience people embarrassingly concede that ‘Homegirl is rocking it.’
12.02am The real Kristin Wiig approaches! How will they handle this? They just introduce her ALL OVER AGAIN, for all the world as if Apatow/Manngate NEVER HAPPENED. No-one cares, after all, for they are looking at Rooney Mara, who has come as an ice sculpture of herself.
12.05am Mara is asked what advice her actress sister has given her. She declines to say, presumably because the rather less well-known Kate hasn’t given her any advice whatsoever and if she had then it would have been ‘Stop being so much more famous than me or I will give you a Chinese burn.’
12.10am Supporting actress shoo-in Octavia Spencer is very excited, and greets her friends watching at home! She almost appears to be a real person, with emotions!
12.18am Sacha Baron Cohen creates a disturbance while Jonah Hill is being interviewed. The work experience girls, sophisticated cynics that they are, think it is a mere publicity stunt! To think that he would so defile this monument to wholesome, homespun spontaneity. ‘We’ve been doing this for a long time,’ they claim. ‘We know what’s what.’ If not who’s who. But Hill has the best lofty brush-off for Cohen: ‘I used to write for him when I was, like, twenty.’
12.20am Jean Dujardin turns up and the work experience girls marvel at the fact that he is a French person, from France, with a French name and a troubling habit of speaking French. Dujardin confirms their suspicion that he is an unfathomable enigma by describing his nomination as ‘irrational’ and ‘abstract’. ‘HE IS A GOOD TIME!’ the girls conclude.
12.23am Gary Oldman has managed not to be French, but, to the girls’ dismay and woe, he doesn’t have a publicist. This is apparently akin to lacking a face. ‘It’s probably why he’s so under the radar,’ they lament.
12.24am A fashion expert joins in. ‘We’re going to see a lot of red tonight,’ she confidently surmises, ‘and a lot of green. And a lot of blue as well.’
12.25am Emma Stone is wearing the red-thing-with-big-weird-neck-bow that Julianne Moore wore to last year's Golden Globes and Nicole Kidman wore to the Oscars in 2007. We must thus conclude that Stone is asserting herself as Hollywood’s new Alpha Redhead, without even engaging in the required fight to the death with Jessica Chastain. Fashion expert claims that the dress has an ‘empire waist’, which it doesn’t. I now no longer trust her about the likelihood of red, green and blue. I am adrift.
12.59am The Associated Press sign off. How will we root ourselves without their naïve folk wisdom? Inside, Jean Dujardin tells an E! presenter that he loves ‘American faces’. He obviously hasn’t clocked Melanie Griffith yet.
1.00am J-Lo arrives, and within seconds mentions to the interviewer that she was raised in the Bronx. It can’t be true! What about all the rocks that she’s got? How is it possible that someone so wealthy and exquisite could be REAL and FROM THE STREETS? If only she would explain; perhaps in a song. ‘We work so hard to make great films,’ says J-Lo, whose recent work includes voicing a sexy tiger in a short film spin-off of Ice Age.
1.13am ‘Who are you wearing?’ an E! presenter asks Glenn Close. ‘Zac Posen,’ says Close. ‘I knew right away,’ says the presenter, lying. Tim Gunn demands that both Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz tell him their ‘secret’ for looking spruce on the red carpet. Neither of them says, ‘I am phenomenally rich, get sent free gowns and employ a team of stylists to attend to each of my hair follicles.
2.00am Lose my of-course-entirely-legitimate connection to the ceremony for a while, and when I tune back in they are awarding Best Make-Up to The Iron Lady. One of the recipients thanks his dad, and the camera snaps to Gwyneth Paltrow, poster girl for Liking Your Dad.
2.08am A Separation wins Best Foreign Language Film. What with two solid decisions in the bag, and no-one actually having worn a bag, this is shaping up to be a disappointingly rational evening. Whatever that French bloke thinks.
2.13am Christian Bale presents Best Supporting Actress to Octavia Spencer, in his special Ordinary Bloke accent, which he adopted after his leaked ‘YOU ARE TRASHING MY SCENE’ rant so that people would think he was a scrappy working class geezer rather than an appalling cut-glass diva. It sounds rather as if he recently adopted a Cockney and is trying to speak its language to make it feel at home. The room stands for Octavia Spencer, because of how she is black. This level of guilty over-compensation clearly indicates that Meryl Streep has taken Best Actress over Viola Davis.
2.31am The distribution of unsexy technical awards commences, and is dominated by Hugo. One vaguely wonders how many members of the Academy are truly qualified to distinguish the year’s best sound editing from the year’s best sound mixing.
2.50am Chris Rock, presenting Best Animated Feature to Rango, makes some quips about Hollywood’s treatment of black performers. The audience takes collective affront: did it or DID IT NOT just go to the trouble of standing up for Octavia Spencer?
3.06am Christopher Plummer wins for Beginners, a film that deserves a break after having all its Best Ever Film Performance by a Jack Russell glory filched by The Artist. Plummer is the oldest Oscar-winner ever, and was born in the year of the first ever awards. Back then, there was a category called ‘Unique and Artistic Production’. After tonight the Academy will probably reintroduce this, so that no more weird silent foreign films can walk away with Best Picture.
3.21am The Artist takes Best Score, and Bret McKenzie aces the TWO-SONG Best Original Song category with his Man or Muppet. Is a two-shortlistee shortlist really credible, outside of the Scottish BAFTAs? Did NO OTHER FILMS have original songs in them this year? Does it all just fall apart when Randy Newman has a year off? Questions, questions.
3.33am Angelina Jolie gets to present two awards, because she is twice as important as anyone else. (J-Lo will fight her later, using techniques learned during her upbringing in the Bronx.) Alexander Payne wins Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants, and for once gets to seem unusually nice and polite, because he has shown up, unlike the next winner, Woody Allen. Allen never shows up. His slavering devotees insist on seeing this as Dashing Individualism rather than Just Plain Rudeness. Had Michel Hazanavicius found something better to do, there probably would have had to be a war between Hollywood and France; but Woody Allen is special, because he is An Intellectual. You can tell because his film Midnight in Paris references frighteningly obscure, divisive figures like Hemingway, Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec. It’s good he’s not here. He’d throw everyone off with that kind of cultural oneupmanship.
3.39am Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy are presenting Best Documentary Short, or something – it’s hard to concentrate because ROSE BYRNE IS SO THIN. It looks as if her skeleton is going to climb out of her skin and have a Ray Harryhausen-style fight with Rooney Mara’s.
3.52am The Best Director category is preceded by footage of colleagues praising the nominees. Jessica Chastain rhapsodises about Terrence Malick. I want to go to Jessica Chastain classes and learn how to be as breathily, vacantly faux-sincere as Jessica Chastain. Rarely has someone lent so much gravitas to such inanities. Take note, Emma Stone! Michael Douglas presents the award to Michel Hazanavicius, commencing The Artist’s predicted dominance of the heavyweight categories.
4.04am It’s the Death Montage! The Death Montage always used to be my favourite part of the evening, but it’s rendered a little more sombre this year by the fact that I was actually acquainted with two of the people listed in it. My God, it’s almost as if all this were REAL. Also they’ve cut the applause feed, so you no longer get that delightfully awkward variable applause: unsure smattering for foreign or technical people, wrist-snapping onslaught for The Properly Famous. The Academy does not acknowledge the passing of either Chile’s Raul Ruiz or Greece’s Theo Angelopoulos.
4.16am Jean Dujardin wins for Best Twinkly Smile, I mean Best Actor. He’s delightful, but The Artist required cute mugging rather than the development of a real nuanced character. He should be in its own category, called something like Best Daft Turn. He could compete against Johnny Depp every single year.
4.26am Presenting Best Actress, Colin Firth claims that our cinemas would already seem ‘empty’ without Rooney Mara, who has had precisely one lead role. On the basis of a brief clip from a film I haven’t seen, I decide that Michelle Williams should win; but this is Meryl Streep’s moment, even if she does look Unconvincingly Amazed. Meryl thanks her make-up artist, but not her director. Mercifully she does not get into any guff about Margaret Thatcher being an inspirational feminist figure, though it might have been civil to acknowledge that the woman she played is still alive. Call it sympathy for the devil – I know we’re all supposed to be baying for her head - but I can’t help thinking that there was something a bit impolite about making The Iron Lady while its subject is still around and unable to react or comment.
4.37am Matters draw to a close with The Artist taking Best Film. The makers bang on about Claude Berri and Billy Wilder, but no-one listens look, Uggie the dog is onstage doing cute stuff! The Academy disperses into the night, pondering an immediate future of silent 3D black-and-white homages to controversial right-wing demagogues, starring Rooney Mara, Viola Davis and a terrier.
Full list of winners at the Oscars 2012
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Jean Dujardin – The Artist as George Valentin
Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady as Margaret Thatcher
Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer – Beginners as Hal Fields
Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer – The Help as Minny Jackson
Best Writing – Original Screenplay
Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen
Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash from The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Best Animated Feature
Rango – Gore Verbinski
Best Foreign Language Film
A Separation (Iran) in Persian – Asghar Farhadi
Best Documentary – Feature
Undefeated – TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay, and Richard Middlemas
Best Documentary – Short Subject
Saving Face – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge
Best Live Action Short Film
The Shore – Terry George and Oorlagh George
Best Animated Short Film
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore – William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
Best Original Score
The Artist – Ludovic Bource
Best Original Song
"Man or Muppet" from The Muppets – Bret McKenzie
Best Sound Editing
Hugo – Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
Best Sound Mixing
Hugo – Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Best Art Direction
Hugo – Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo
Hugo – Robert Richardson
The Iron Lady – Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
Best Costume Design
The Artist – Mark Bridges
Best Film Editing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
Best Visual Effects
Hugo – Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann, and Alex Henning