AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
We wouldn't exactly describe our jaws as "dropped" after witnessing the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. More like they're gaping open in horror and our eyebrows got lost in our hairline long ago, right around the time James Franco dressed in drag for no reason other than to make it onto Google Trends.
But there were some pedestrian surprises, as well, and we've got it all here for you in our round-up of the biggest head-scratchers and "Wha...?" moments from the 2011 Oscars:
MORE: Yes, it was that bad
1. Oscar Royalty: The King's Speech made good on all those last-minute bets that the British drama would kick The Social Network's arse when it counted (i.e., the Best Picture category). The night went along with favorite after favorite scooping up his or her predestined Oscar, with even the Academy's attempts at going rogue failing to shock. For instance, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are Hollywood outsiders but their win for their Social Network score was well-deserved. And Exit Through the Gift Shop was the trendy fave but documentary features about the financial crisis—like ultimate winner Inside Job—are as scary as anything Darren Aronofsky is directing these days. But when Speech director Tom Hooper bested David Fincher for Best DIrector, it became apparent that The King's Speech was really going to make it happen. 2. We Could Be Heroes: Did you expect the saviors of the 2011 Oscars to be Robert Stromberg, David Seidler and Luke Matheny? Sure, Colin Firth and Christian Bale gave good speech, as always. But Stromberg, accepting Alice in Wonderland's win for art direction, opened the whole procession with the remark, "Why didn't I lose those 20 pounds?" Matheny, who directed the winning Live Action Short, God of Love, similarly lamented his lack of a haircut. He then thanked his mom, who was in charge of craft services, and the lovely sounding girlfriend who scored his film. Seidler, who at 73 was a first-time Oscar nominee, let alone winner, for penning The King's Speech, had his wits about him enough to give both a touching and funny round of appreciation and poke fun at Melissa Leo for dropping an F-bomb.
3. Hairy Situation: Academy Award-winner The Wolfman? It's a fact. The critically panned and little watched horror-flick-masquerading-as-highbrow-culture was recognized for the one aspect it excelled at—makeup. Fair enough. But thanks to technical awards, The Wolfman has more Oscars than Winter's Bone, True Grit and The Kids Are All Right put together.
4. Substance Abuse: Sure, history tends to repeat itself (see: Charlie Sheen), but isn't Robert Downey Jr. off probation? In one of the wittier presentations of the night, Downey was teamed with Jude Law to present Best Achievement in Visual Effects and proceeded to interrupt him at every turn.
"I'm not here to be a part of your games so you get people coming up to you at the afterparty saying how witty you are or how charming you are," Law scolded his Sherlock Holmes costar. "It's their moment! If it wasn't for them, your closest association with a superhero would have been in 2001 when you got busted in a cheap hotel with a woman dressed as Batgirl."
To which Downey smoothly replied, "First of all, that cheap hotel room cost $1,250 a night with a corporate discount. Secondly, it was 2000, not 2001. And most importantly, she was dressed as Wonder Woman—and that attention to detail is what has won the respect of all the Academy voters for these fine men and women." Sure, it was funny because of the presenters' collective appeal, but when that is the night's comedic high point, you get...
5. Worst. Oscars. Ever?: Granted, we haven't seen every Academy Awards ceremony. The party in 1936 may have been a real stinker. Who knows? Tonight started off promisingly enough, with some fab gowns on the red carpet and an amusing opening sketch poking fun at the 10 Best Picture nominees, but it was all downhill from there.
Presenting the first two awards of the night, for art direction and cinematography, Tom Hanks was wasted on a sham of a spiel that included a useless flash of Gone With the Wind that you can find on any DVD cover and precious seconds devoted to a glimpse of Titanic (just the boat). We could break the flaws of this broadcast down, minute by minute, but we know you've probably got jobs to get to and kids to take care of, etc.
So we'll put it this way: The entire production—usually our favorite awards show of the year, FYI—was a mess, from the well-meaning but manic Anne Hathaway and her ventriloquist's dummy, James Franco, to the speeches (Melissa Leo, we know it's The Oscars, but you won every other major award and should have prepared a real speech that made sense, like Mo'Nique did last year) to the lack of both comedic and touching moments. The banter was largely soulless, too. When Josh Brolin needlessly remarked that he and Javier Bardem were presenting screenplay honors for the 83rd time in Oscar history, it felt more like the 83rd time in two hours. We can't blame each and every person who participated. But didn't, at some point during rehearsal, anyone realize how the collective whole was going to come off?
Et tu, Hanks?