All night long it seemed like Oscars were about as surprising as a Billy Crystal punch line. And then, in the ninth inning, came Meryl...
Surprise: Sure, Meryl Streep has been nominated 17 times, but all the pundits were skewing against "The Iron Lady," which wasn't nominated for Best Picture or Screenplay. Ever since the two-time Oscar winner lost to Viola at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, America's greatest actress has been an underdog. And then she won, tossing everybody's Oscar pools in the air - including mine.
[ Photos: Oscars red carpet report card ]
Snub: George Clooney. Don't get me wrong. I adore Jean Dujardin — and raise two eyebrows in his honor. But the Cloon has been out there stumping since September and he's so touching in "The Descendants." He plays a man in denial who breaks into a thousand pieces and puzzles himself back together and into a better place. One simple question: what's Dujardin going to do next? And Clooney has been nothing but a class act this entire season.
Surprise: "Hugo" won five awards and actually tied with "The Artist" — it's amazing that it scored so well even without director Martin Scorsese winning the big prize. And Marty got the most thank-you's in the evening.
Snub: Viola Davis! We were settling in to hear what she had to say, knowing that she would hit that speech out of the park, talking about Civil Rights and Female Solidarity and raising a standing ovation. And, then, zap — the moment was over. The viewers wanted "The Help" to win, and if it wasn't going to be best picture, or best director, or best screenplay, then that tag team of Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis was going to satisfy. I feel unfulfilled.
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Surprise: It's no surprise that "The Artist" won, but it's the first time a black-and-white silent movie has won since the very first year of the Academy Awards, when "Wings" got the Oscar in 1929.
Snub: So many major films were totally shut out: "War Horse," "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life," "Bridesmaids," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part II," "Drive." It certainly seems like the Academy has become entirely out of touch with the audience that tunes in every year hoping to see the movies they love reflected in the awards disbursed.
Surprise: Billy Crystal got better as the night went on. And, while the evening might have seemed long — oh, those bungee jumpers in front of "North by Northwest" — yet it only ran eight minutes over and stayed close to the schedule.
Thelma Adams is a contributing editor for Yahoo! Movies, a New York Film Critics Circle member, and the author of the novel "Playdate." Follow her on Twitter at @thelmadams.
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