White men over 60 years old, living in Brentwood and Beverly Hills, were recently outed as the highest demographic of Academy voters. President of the AMPAS, Tom Sherak said in an interview before the Oscars, " it's not reflective of society, it's a private club of people who's career are worthy of membership....we're open to who have the credits and want to apply."
Still the classiest and move coveted in the world for film awards, this year's ceremony was focused on " why we love the movie and why they are important," with practically every of segment aimed at that. This is a refreshing clarity of theme, rather than past shows that have had variety acts for interned entertainment.
Five awards went to Hugo, the director and film historian Martin Scorsese's homage to the history of the film making process. However while most of those were in the technical areas, the five awards that The Artist received included three of the highly coveted areas; best actor, best director and best picture. While Hugo aimed at displaying almost every technique every used in film, The Artist had, some felt, an irresistible charm of heart and soul. With shades of the classic, A Star is Born.
The Artist was an obvious valentine to the early filmmaking process of black and white and sounding the idea of silence. It had intended sound effects to show the contrast and an actual film score, rather than a historic orchestra or old theater in-house piano. Orson Wells asked Alfred Hitchcock the master of black and white; how he could create the same effects of black and white. Hitchcock answered, "by using black and white." These two historic film auteur's chose to use black and white long after technicolor was the accepted technique in filmmaking. Hitchock who started out as film art director knew how to use the sets to stand out like works of art, with rich texture. Similar use was displayed in the classic, Casablanca.
The Iron Lady reigned two Oscars, one for best make up and of course for Best Actress. Streep depicting Britain's first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher inIron Lady, whimpered for a few seconds, "I won't be up here (at the podium accepting an Oscar) again," but then showed satisfaction in winning and gratitude.
Both The Artist and Iron Lady had one thing in common, Harvey Weinstein, who Meryl Streep previously referred to as, "God". Weinstein is as much of a movie mogul as the historic ones that started Hollywood, Weinstein has had a strong record for Oscar winners and serious contender in this generation of filmmaking.
As The Help, had three strong wins from the Screen Actors Guild Awards: for best actress to Viola Davis (who won other awards and was a serious front-runner), best supporting Actress to Octavia Spencer and also the best ensemble award. The Screen Actors Guild Awards is an honor, which the Academy has often followed. Often films that won SAG's prestigious best ensemble have gone on to win the best picture award at the Oscars. This time, The Help neither cleaned house, nor was left helpless, with Octavia Spencer's win for best supporting actress.
While Speilberg's The Color Purple was after the emancipation proclamation, The Help then flash-forwarded to the ending of "Jim Crow" in America. Speilberg's The Color Purple launch the careers' of both Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey won the Jean Hershel Humanitarian Award. Coincidental that this happened during "Black History Month". Woody Allen's love letter to Paris and Francophiles, won and Oscar for best original screenplay for, Midnight in Paris. The most delightful film he's made in quite a while. Alexander Payne won his second Oscar for best adapted screenplay in The Descendents, thanking his mother for letting his skip pre-school so he could go to the movies.
With The Artist 's semi-sweep, shows the Academy is open to new-comers. With a win to Christopher Plummer for best supporting actor in The Beginners, while in his 80's and a serious nomination to Max Von Sydow also in his 80's, (who's film credits are of biblical proportion); shows the Academy does compensate veterans of the industry, if they survive the wait. Henry Fonda and Paul Neuman were examples of that.
Some of our favorites won. Some of our favorites lost, making parts of the ceremony both maddening and uplifting. But the love of movies, and their importance as part of our national culture, enforced what the night was all about.