Movies with conscious creation-related themes fared well once again at this year’s Oscars ceremony in Hollywood on Sunday night. There weren’t many surprises, however, with front-running nominees taking home most of the awards as expected. “The Artist,” a silent, black-and-white comedy-drama about Hollywood’s transition from the age of silent films to talkies, came up the big winner of the evening, capturing five Academy Awards, including best picture, best director (Michel Hazanavicius) and best actor (Jean Dujardin), as well as honors for best costume design and best musical score. The film, which deals with the theme of the need to evolve, a key principle of conscious creation theory, was the favorite heading into the evening, taking home half of the awards for which the picture was nominated. The movie had previously been honored in numerous awards season competitions, having won multiple statues at the Critics Choice Awards, the Golden Globe Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards, as well as best actor honors at the Cannes Film Festival and in the Screen Actors Guild Awards competition. Another film that paid homage to the silent movie era, “Hugo,” tied “The Artist” with the most wins, taking home five Oscars in technical categories, including best cinematography, best art direction, best sound editing, best sound mixing and best visual effects. The film, which addressed the magic we create in our lives – an everyday occurrence in the practice of conscious creation – led all pictures with 11 nominations and had previously earned the Critics Choice Award for best art direction and the Golden Globe Award for best director (Martin Scorsese).
One of the few surprises of the evening was Meryl Streep’s win as best actress for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” The controversial film explored the notion that “what we think, we become,” the core of conscious creation philosophy. Streep’s win for her magnificent performance was a bit of a surprise, given that the momentum going into the evening appeared to have been with Viola Davis for her stellar portrayal in “The Help” (even though Streep had previously earned the Golden Globe Award for best actress in a drama). Streep’s victory was her third on a record 17 nominations and her first win since “Sophie’s Choice” in 1982. “The Iron Lady” also picked up the Oscar for best makeup, and deservedly so, primarily for its use of aging facial prosthetics that, for once, actually looked real.
There was no surprise in the best supporting actor category, however, with 82-year-old Christopher Plummer winning his first Oscar (on only his second nomination) for his portrayal of a geriatric widower who comes out of the closet in the comedy-drama “Beginners.” The picture, which examines that it’s never too late to change one’s life as long as one is willing to embrace beliefs that make such adjustments possible, was something of a sleeper at the box office, although it has garnered considerable attention since its release with Plummer’s victories in the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Independent Spirit Awards competitions. Plummer goes into the Oscar record books with this win, too, as the eldest award recipient in this category.
There was also little surprise in the best supporting actress category, with Octavia Spencer taking home a richly deserved award for her performance in “The Help.” While I did not have an opportunity to review this picture prior to the Oscars, it, too, is replete with significant conscious creation themes, such as facing fears and embracing change. This film also illustrates why the Oscars need to establish a new category for best acting ensemble, because, as good as Spencer was in her part, any number of her co-stars could have just as easily captured awards for their performances in this picture. Spencer had previously won accolades for her performance in the Critics Choice, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards competitions.Films with conscious creation-related themes also won awards in the script categories. Woody Allen earned his third writing Oscar for his original screenplay of “Midnight in Paris,” the charming tale of an author who changes his life by exploring changes in temporal probabilities. In the adapted screenplay category, Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash took top honors for “The Descendants,” the comedy-drama about a successful Hawaii real estate lawyer struggling with challenges in his life and how he addresses them by looking within and seeking simpler solutions. While I was generally pleased with the outcomes in most of the categories (actress, supporting actress, original screenplay, technical awards), I would have rather seen alternate winners in several others. As much as I enjoyed “The Artist” as a pleasant afternoon diversion, I have to question its wins in the best picture, director and actor categories. I would have preferred to see “Hugo” take best picture and director honors, and I believe George Clooney would have made a better best actor selection for his performance in “The Descendants.” However, despite my preference of Clooney’s performance in “The Descendants,” I must admit that I was disappointed with the picture’s adapted screenplay award, an honor that I would have bestowed upon either “Hugo” or “The Ides of March,” both of which were more focused than their rambling Hawaiian counterpart. And, as much as I enjoyed Plummer’s performance in “Beginners,” I felt the best supporting actor award would have been better given to Kenneth Branagh for his tour-de-force portrayal of acting legend Sir Laurence Olivier in “My Week with Marilyn.” It will be interesting to see what 2012 holds in store for movie audiences. Overall, 2011 was a rather weak year, producing a number of good, but not great, films, and a number of pictures that deserved wider recognition (“The Adjustment Bureau,” “The Debt” and “Higher Ground,” for example) failed to receive their due. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that Hollywood and independent filmmakers continue to release pictures with conscious creation themes, since these vehicles continue to provide us with some of the most enlightening and entertaining tools for conveying these messages in this very important time of change.
Copyright © 2012, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.