The 84th Annual Academy Awards - Blow-by-Blow Account

For the past four or five years, I’ve been “one of those people” who stays up to watch the Academy Awards. For those who are more dismissive of the schmaltzy back-patting elitism prevalent at The Oscars and its like, may through association also single me out as “one of those people” who stands behind the barrier at red carpet premieres with “the rest of the sad sacks” in search of that elusive glimpse at that lesser-spotted A-Lister.

Okay, so I admit, I have craned my neck as a Leicester Square celeb obsessive on more than one occasion, but those days of waiting for the esteemed filmmaker and (as Hitchcock once addressed them) his cattle are, you’ll be pleased to learn, very much behind me. However, the need to see the Oscar winners and losers is immediate, and, as such, a live feed of the big night is a necessary one.
Here’s a blow-by-blow account of my night:

21:00
Fall into a deep sleep and miss all of The Oscars.
(This of course is a joke)

21:13
After that ice cream earlier (what can I say – it’s two tubs for £3 at the Co-op), I’ve just returned from a very sedate, stitch-laden jog. I ran to the pub and back, the only difference this time is that I didn’t go in.

I ran further through the night than I usually would – a warning shot, a sort of quiet word to my body clock that I’d be giving it the cold shoulder come bed-time. I knew of no other way of getting my message across.

I’ve been assured that we have an ample supply of "Rocket Fuel" coffee in the cupboard (it puts hairs on your chest so fast that you’d think you were watching a time lapse). I can resort to that if I find myself lagging or – worst still – hit a brick wall during the technical part of the awards (it happened last year, but I put that down to “Franco-gate”) If I do start to drift, I’ll dispense with any prior nobility and just drink the coffee straight from the container. For one thing, it’ll save on the washing up. And I love the taste of exceptionally strong dried coffee in the morning.

Let’s get down to business: I have vested interest in these Oscars: I’ve put four bets on the top four categories (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress) totalling £10. I fully expect to lose.
There was a time when I used to bet on the Oscars to win. The most notable - that is, only win – I’ve had was when I correctly chose Sean Penn to win for his performance in Milk when Mickey Rourke was the heavy favourite to win for The Wrestler, and even then I only won about £6.

Every year I’ve found myself putting my money on long shots. To prove my point, this is what I wrote about the bets I’d placed on last year’s Oscars:

"If I win all four of my Oscar bets, I will win £136.25 excluding my initial stake. If I lose, I'm set to lose a tenner. My heart says The King's Speech, but the hole in my wallet wants me to burn back some leather. May True Grit, Wasteland, Geoffrey Rush and Dogtooth triumph! There are only three certainties: Mr Darcy will win Best Actor, Toy Story 3 will win Best Animated Film and Helena Bonham Carter will wear a stupid dress."

I lost that tenner. This year, if I win all four of my Oscar bets, I will win £325 excluding my initial stake. I have no wild ideas that I’ll win any of them. Let’s face it: The Artist is likely to sweep the board. With this in mind (or not, as this case certainly is), my choices are as follows:

Best Picture – The Help
Best Director – Terrence Mallick
Best Actor – Gary Oldman
Best Actress – Michelle Williams

It only occurred to me afterwards that betting on Terrence Mallick to win for The Tree of Life was really quite stupid of me. Mallick is one of the most widely-respected directors working today, but he’s notoriously camera shy and is unlikely to collect his Oscar if he did go on to win. This is something the Academy may have take into consideration.

22:02
I think I will shower at 23:00 and have some cereal at midnight, just to trick my brain into thinking I slept.

22:49
Mark Kermode just tweeted his ideal world Oscar winners: We Need to Talk About Kevin for Best Film, Senna for Best Documentary and Michael Fassbender for Shame.

Firstly, I find it extraordinary that Senna wasn’t nominated. Forget favourite documentary, some people considered it the best thing they’d seen all year! But alas, this is Oscar world. Sometimes the best films go without even a nomination to their name.

Secondly, I would have loved to see Tilda Swinton nominated, if nothing else to than to see what she decided to wear. She always looks so bizarre, so…exotic at award ceremonies. But not a Penelope Cruz exotic: a kind of different planet exotic. As if she were found under a rock somewhere distant and undiscovered, she’d then be introduced to civilisation for food and acceptable forms of clothing, but not before attending a glitzy awards ceremony first.

Thirdly, I’m quite certain that Michael Fassbender will win an Oscar one day. Have you seen the size of his acting chops (if not, Shame on you)? I never knew he was in 300 until recently. Apart from the filmmakers, the other actors, Fassbender himself and perhaps every third or fourth person who has ever the film, who knew? I only barely recognised Dominic West in it (my reaction when I found out: "Holy crap, Batman: what’s McNulty doing in 300?!").

23:25
There is a nun on the red carpet. Intrigue is briefly overtaken by concern.

My eyes don’t deceive me – she’s right there in black and white. This should surely be investigated.

23:45
The girl from Dawson’s Creek has arrived. Not Dawson or Katie Holmes or the one from Mighty Ducks, you know: the other one. Michelle Williams! She’s one of my horses in the Oscars race. Giddy-up, Williams, you don’t want to be late. Oh, Lord. Where’s that coffee?

00:23
I’ve found a decent stream so I’m happy. I wish the streamer would settle on Sky Premiere, though. There’s only so much red carpet talk a man can take.

00:34
It’s official: Sacha Baron Cohen has infiltrated the Oscars red carpet. Viva Dictator! Viva Dictator!

01:03
This title makes me happy: "Sacha Baron Cohen Dumps Kim Jong Il's Ashes on Ryan Seacrest." Seacrest should have known. I’m sure it’s not the last we’ve heard from The Dictator tonight. The Oscars will be keeping an eagle on him for sure.

Regarding Dresswatch, I like Glen Close, Cameron Diaz and Gwenyth Paltrow’s the best, even if Mrs Coldplay is wearing a cape.

01:47
Billy Crystal. He was always going to do his sing and dance. Well, it worked for Hugh Jackman a few years ago. And he’s already spoken more than James Franco did last year!

Could Hugo be the surprise upset of the night? It’s already picked up two Awards, denying The Artist its clean sweep.

01:54
"Please welcome, a recurring dream of mine: Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez." I like it, Billy.

02:02
Among other stars, Adam Sandler talking about how Sean Connery’s chest hair inspired him to get into films. And I’ve never heard Brad Pitt say Gargantua that many times. Come to think of it…
The film he refers to is The War of the Gargantuas…apparently.

02:06
Ah, Foreign Language film! I’m so glad A Separation won. What with the unrest in Iran at the moment, it clearly means a great deal to its people that this film has garnered worldwide recognition. Did anyone see Persepolis a few years back? What a great French/Iranian animation that was!

02:10
Christian Bale. How I love it when you speak your native English and surprise a not unsubstantial amount of people. Yes, America, I know you thought he was one of yours. He may have forgotten his regional accent (I’m quite certain no one in England speaks like that, although Dick Van Dyke did try it once), but he’s still one of us!

02:15
After getting a mention by Octavia Spencer, the state of Alabama must be feeling quite pleased with itself right about now. Spencer wins Best Supporting Actress for The Help. And very well-deserved!

02:21
The Wizard of Oz focus group sketch is quite entertaining: "I didn’t like it until it got to the flying monkeys!"

02:28
The remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an Oscar winner for Film Editing. That came as a bit of a surprise. The Academy should at least give the original Swedish film an honorary Oscar for inspiring a remake that was – let’s face it – lacklustre in comparison.

Hugo’s winning the majority of the technical awards. Screw the tenner, I’d love to see Scorsese pick up the award for Best Director. I just want to hear his voice.

02:37
It turns out that Senna was snubbed an Oscar nomination because a) It wasn’t quite released at the right time and b) No one in America likes Formula One. Pfft!

02:47
It’s now the turn of Chris Rock to present an Oscar. He’s telling us how easy it is to make a million dollars! By all accounts, he doesn’t even read the script when he’s voicing an animated character. He just asks "The Guy" what to say next. I love his shouty voice. It’s so…American. Can the Academy employ him as host next year? Everyone deserves a second chance!

03:05
I’ve not had a more delicious dish of Spaghetti Bolognese at 3 in the morning.

It was wonderful to see Christopher Plummer finally get his Oscar, and such a wonderful speech!

03:10
At what point did Nick Nolte get that old? Someone ought to have a word with his ageing process.

03:20
I’m so relieved that Brett McKenzie won the Best Song Oscar for "Man or Muppet." The Flight of the Conchords is a great show! And relieved also that Will Ferrell and Zach Galiafinakas were respectful enough not to hit those symbols during his speech.

03:58
We’re at the business end of the ceremony now. I’m praying for an upset for the sake of my bets. My question is: where is Woody Allen? Midnight in Paris won Best Original Screenplay. What’s more, why didn’t Owen Wilson accept it in his absence?

04:39
No surprise that The Artist was the big winner, picking up Best Actor and Best Film.

All in all, a very entertaining ceremony. There were no massive surprises that my bets had relied so desperately upon, but no matter. The Artist is a deserved winner. Congratulations to all the winners, especially Uggie, the little wonderful dog from The Artist. That dog really did have his day!

Full List of Winners:

Best cinematography
Robert Richardson, Hugo
Best art direction
Hugo
Best costume design
The Artist
Best make up
The Iron Lady
Best foreign language film
A Separation
Best actress in a supporting role
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best film editing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best sound editing
Hugo
Best sound mixing
Hugo
Best documentary feature
Undefeated
Best animated film
Rango
Best visual effects
Hugo
Best actor in a supporting role
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best original score
Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Best song
Man or Muppet, The Muppets
Best adapted screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, The Descendants
Best original screenplay
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Best live action short
The Shore
Best documentary short
Saving Face
Best animated short
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
Best director
Michel Hazavanicius, The Artist
Best actor in a leading role
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best actress in a leading role
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best picture
The Artist

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