Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Movies

With Billy Crystal's return, 'The Artist's' wins, old school reigns at Oscars

In a cliffhanger suitable for a silent movie, The Artist escaped with the best picture Oscar at Sunday's 84th annual Academy Awards.

Michel Hazanavicius' black and white valentine to Hollywood's silent era collected five Academy Awards — equalling Martin Scorsese's Hugo, which earlier appeared on the verge of an upset after five wins in technical categories.

But the later, major results titled toward The Artist, a backstage melodrama with barely any dialogue.

Meanwhile, Billy Crystal had plenty to say, zinging celebrities, singing parodies and generally not living up to the hype surrounding his return to Oscar hosting duties.

There were other surprises in the Oscar envelopes, including Meryl Streep's best actress win for The Iron Lady, after pre-show prognostications leaned heavily toward Viola Davis of The Help. Davis was one of the first Kodak Theatre attendees hugging Streep on her way to the stage.

It was Streep's third career Oscar but her first win in 29 years, since Sophie's Choice.

"I really understand I'll never be up here again," Streep said wryly, before thanking everyone involved with her "inexplicably wonderful career."

"This is such a great honor but the thing that counts most with me is the friendships and the love and the sheer joy we have had making movies together."

In addition to best picture, director, musical score and costumes, The Artist's star Jean Dujardin was named best actor — the first French-born winner in that category — for playing George Valentin, a silent movie star ruined by the advent of talkies.

"I love your country," Dujardin said, accepting the Oscar by slipping into his native tongue: "If George Valentin could speak he'd say: 'Wow... formidable, merci beaucoup, I love you.' "

Meanwhile, Davis' Help co-star Octavia Spencer was named the best supporting actress, capping her near-sweep of that category during the awards season.

"Thank you, academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," Spencer said onstage, after catching her breath and basking in the evening's first standing ovation.

Christopher Plummer, 82, became the oldest actor to win an Oscar, playing an aging widower finding new life as a gay man in Beginners.

Plummer bested the former record held by Driving Miss Daisy's Jessica Tandy by nearly a year and a half. It was only his second Oscar nomination in an illustrious film career dating back to 1965's The Sound of Music.

"You're only two years older than me, darling," Plummer tenderly said to the statuette. "Where have you been all my life?"

Woody Allen was a no-show to accept his third original screenplay Oscar in 15 nominations, this time for the romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris. Allen has attended the show only once, in 2002 urging Hollywood to continue filming in New York after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Alexander Payne, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon won the adapted screenplay prize for The Descendants.

Crystal's ninth turn hosting — his first since 2004 — replaced the sour taste of last year's James Franco-Anne Hathaway experiment in hipness with a stale, familiar flavor. He did it old-school style, with a little song, a little dance, a little Moet in celebrity pants, Billy Crystal's greatest shticks.

After a too-somber intro by Morgan Freeman, Crystal took a digital tour of the best picture nominees, beginning with a recreation of the monochrome opening shots of The Artist. Crystal appeared with electrodes strapped to his neck declaring in title cards: "I won't host!" and plugged his next movie.

From there the montage segued to a hospital setting from The Descendants, with best actor nominee George Clooney leaning in for a kiss and begging Crystal to host again. Not enough time to write jokes, the comedian protested, and within the next few minutes the truth behind that joke was becoming painfully clear.

A Midnight in Paris-style cameo by Justin Bieber — "here to give you the (age) 18-to-24 demographic," the pop star joked. Moneyball's aged baseball scouts were dubbed "the youngest, hippest (joke) writers in town." Both gags signaled the academy's surrender to the inevitable: The Oscars will never be hip, so why not embrace its inner geezer?

Crystal was a comfort host, not as abrasive as Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, or removed from tradition as Franco last year. He's a beloved part of the Hollywood establishment, rather than an outsider like Jon Stewart or David Letterman. It was an affable, insider performance under circumstances that can easily be used as the show's alibi.

Comments
Star Wars: The Last Jedi has everything The Force Awakens was missing

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has everything The Force Awakens was missing

When The Force Awakens landed two years ago, it was everything Star Wars fans wanted yet not entirely what we needed. It was a rousing tribute missing its own vision, introducing new characters and crises hinting at old ones. Star Wars: The Last Jed...
Published: 12/12/17
13 new movies you have to see over the holiday season

13 new movies you have to see over the holiday season

Hollywood has enough movies left to get everyone through the holidays plus any New Year’s hangover. Many are aiming for awards glory, a few are just here for the party. The really serious contenders won’t open nationwide until early 2018...
Published: 12/12/17
Golden Globe-nominated movies and when to see them in Tampa Bay

Golden Globe-nominated movies and when to see them in Tampa Bay

Guillermo Del Toro’s romantic creature feature The Shape of Water soaked up seven Golden Globes nominations Monday, kicking off another marathon awards season. The Shape of Water is nominated for best dramatic motion picture alongside Christop...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17
‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globes

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globes

Guillermo del Toro’s Cold War-era fairytale "The Shape of Water" swam away with a leading seven nominations from the Golden Globes, while the HBO drama "Big Little Lies" led television nominees with six nods. In what’s being viewed as a wide-open Osc...
Published: 12/11/17
Five offbeat movie choices to get you away from the multiplex this week

Five offbeat movie choices to get you away from the multiplex this week

Hollywood is backloading December, waiting for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to bring moviegoers back to multiplexes. After no major releases last week, only James Franco’s The Disaster Artist is making any new impression at box offices this weekend. (Cli...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/12/17
Olaf is being let go: Olaf short is being dropped from Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’

Olaf is being let go: Olaf short is being dropped from Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’

Winter is still weeks away but everyone’s favorite snowman is already melting from view.In a cruel twist on Frozen’s showstopper, Olaf is being let go.Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, the 21-minute animated "short" preceding Disney-Pixar’s Coco in theaters w...
Published: 12/05/17
‘The Disaster Artist’ takes us inside ‘The Room’ as it notoriously happened

‘The Disaster Artist’ takes us inside ‘The Room’ as it notoriously happened

James Franco found a kooky, kindred spirit in Tommy Wiseau, The Disaster Artist whose 2003 cine-trocity The Room is hailed as one of the worst movies ever.Like Wiseau, Franco can be accused of stretching his talent way too far. Unlike Wiseau, Franco ...
Published: 12/04/17
That time Shia LaBeouf tried to join a Tampa Bay Undeground Film Festival ...

That time Shia LaBeouf tried to join a Tampa Bay Undeground Film Festival ...

For a few bewildering days, R. Presley Stephens thought his Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival would welcome a notorious celebrity.The fourth annual shoestring cinema showcase runs Thursday through Sunday at Britton 8 Theater, 3938 S Dale Mabry High...
Published: 11/29/17
Updated: 12/12/17
What's in theaters for Thanksgiving: 'Coco,' 'Last Flag Flying,' 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

What's in theaters for Thanksgiving: 'Coco,' 'Last Flag Flying,' 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

NOW IN THEATERS: COCO Disney-Pixar’s animated dramedy Coco (PG) is inspired by Mexico’s annual Dia de los Muertos, the "day of the dead" when departed ancestors are celebrated. Good for diversity, although the movie isn’t as good ...
Updated one month ago
If you’re going to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ redo, make it ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

If you’re going to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ redo, make it ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

The last thing this world needs is another rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, likely the most remade, reimagined and ripped off literary property ever. At the same time, the world would be poorer without seeing Ebenezer Scrooge i...
Updated one month ago