AP’s veteran Hollywood reporter offers view from the second mezzanine at the Oscars

By Bob Thomas, AP
Monday, March 8, 2010

Veteran Oscar reporter offers view from audience

LOS ANGELES — Talk about fantastic finishes. Just when Hollywood figured James Cameron would win the directing and motion picture awards for his super moneymaker “Avatar,” it didn’t happen that way.

Barbra Streisand announced Sunday night that the Oscar went to Kathryn Bigelow for her direction of the Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker.” The audience in the Kodak Theatre rose and cheered.

Shortly afterward, Tom Hanks quickly told the audience that the prize for best picture went to “The Hurt Locker.” Again, the audience rose and cheered. Again, Bigelow went to the stage to give a speech.

On both occasions, she made no mention of her former husband, James Cameron.

The Kodak Theatre was decked out in resplendent color, including an overhanging curtain containing 100,000 crystals with ever-changing colors. The hosts were two stalwarts, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. They attracted a few laughs but weren’t up to their usual brilliance.

Lauren Bacall was in the audience and graciously responded to applause acknowledging her honorary Oscar. But the statuette was actually presented last fall at a special dinner. Is the Academy not responding to the longtime stars?

Jeff Bridges received an accolade with his win as best actor in “Crazy Heart.” He spoke long and heartfelt of his devotion to his father, Lloyd Bridges, who was famed for his appearance in the TV series “Sea Hunt.”

Finally, what’s the verdict on this year’s return to 10 contenders for best picture, the first time since 1943?

The show now requires 10 trailers for the movies fighting for the Oscar. These are scattered throughout the evening, and they are hit or miss. Maybe the academy’s Board of Governors should take another look at the new (old?) system of sorting out the winners. But I doubt that will happen.

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