Oscar Preview: Precursor & Oscar Season Wrap-Up, Part 1

Last night, the 84th Annual Academy Awards took place, bringing to a close a long Oscar season fraught with many twists, turns and troubles. Since there were also precursors released in the last week, I’ll still give my regular Big Winners/Big Losers commentary as well as thoughts on the immediately preceding precursors and what they may or may not have meant to the Oscars.

On top of that, I’ll do Big Winners and Big Losers for the Oscars themselves. We’ll present Part 2 next week looking at the precursors and how they impacted or did not the Oscars and finally, two weeks later, Part 3 will go back through my preview articles on specific individuals and highlight who were the winners, losers and what it might mean for the future. After that, I’ll begin a weekly article looking at the Oscar contenders releasing each week, starting off with a recap of the first two-and-a-half months of 2012.

Big Winners, Oscar Edition

The Artist stumbled in a couple of categories it could have taken early in the broadcast, making it look like Hugo might run away with everything, The Artist came on strong in the end where it needed to, taking three of the top prizes of the year.
Hugo steamrolled competition in the early categories winning nearly every tech category in sight. This means that Scorsese’s films have won Oscars in nearly every category the Oscars have to offer for feature films.
Meryl Streep managed to pull ahead in the final stretch claiming her third Oscar for her work as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The genuine love for her was evident in every fiber of that room as she received a standing ovation that only ended at her request. Whether she can tie Katharine Hepburn’s record four wins or not, having long ago eclipsed her nomination record, remains to be seen, but her legions of fans can now rest assured that she has her third.

Big Losers, Oscar Edition

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close only had two nominations coming into the night and while it was never expected to compete for Best Picture, some thought the 82-year-old vets in Supporting Actor would duke it out and von Sydow would rise to the top. It didn’t happen, though Scott Rudin can at least be happy that one of his films now has an Oscar even if it was only for Best Editing (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).
War Horse was the film most likely to triumph in Sound Editing after its Motion Picture Sound Editors win, but the juggernaut of Hugo prevented it from taking home a single Oscar. This and The Adventures of Tintin losing all awards for which they were nominated means a Spielberg film hasn’t won an Oscar since 1998, which seems a bit surprising for a man whose career is so celebrated.
Moneyball wasn’t expected to win any prizes tonight. Even Brad Pitt’s potential win was eventually overshadowed by Jean Dujardin as the season came to a close. Whether or not it was a winner, it was a Best Picture nominee and it joins a small list of Best Picture nominees that took home no other awards. Four of them came out this year alone.
The Tree of Life Terrence Malick was a star ascendant at the beginning of precursor season, then it started to fade with the guilds, revived with the Oscar nominations and collapsed utterly at the Oscars. Is it because the Academy doesn’t get Terrence Malick? Possibly, but whatever the reason, the Cinematography loss has to be a bit galling.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes What should have been a slam dunk for Weta Digital ended up a failure to communicate with voters as they went with the more showy, but less spectacular effects in Hugo.
Harry Potter Although it wasn’t Rise of the Planet of the Apes that put an end to Harry’s Oscar dreams, it was the same film that beat Apes. It is now one of the highest grossing franchises in history not to win an Oscar.

Big Winners, Precursor Edition

The Artist It’s been 25 years since the Spirit Awards gave their prize to the eventual Best Picture winner. That long record was broken last night as a number of the Spirit Awards winners took home Oscars capping a whirlwind weekend.
W.E. It got a big boost from its Costume Designers Guild win, but since that victory was announced after voting deadline, it wasn’t clear if it was a symbolic vote or something else entirely. It was proven last night that it was a fluke.

Big Losers, Precursor Edition


Individual Precursor Analyses

Costume Designers Guild

The Costume Designers threw prognosticators off their game last week, giving their Period Costume Design prize to a film no one really thought to be much of a contender: W.E.. While their Fantasy and Contemporary winners were more in line with traditional thinking, selecting Madonna’s feature debut for the prize is the most unusual thing to happen this season. It was suggested that they were recognizing Arianne Phillips more than anything else, which is reasonable, though still patently bizarre.

Spirit Awards

There were a handful of Oscar nominees that didn’t win their respective categories at the Spirit Awards. Typically, the voters choose the Oscar nominee of the bunch, but as last year proved, they aren’t beyond bypassing history. Last night saw even more discrepancies, but of the major awards, most went as expected: to Oscar frontrunners. Whether this is a sign of things to come or a one-off year (only once in the last five years have more than two Oscar winners also been Spirit Award winners and that was 2006), we’ll have to wait until next year to analyze. Otherwise, look for a future smattering of Oscar winners mixed with non-contenders taking home prizes.