The black and white film completed a weekend trio of triumphs after also winning gold at the Cesar Awards in Paris on Friday (24Feb12) and the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California on Saturday (25Feb12).
The Artist filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius was also triple weekend winner after claiming the Best Director honour at the Hollywood & Highland Center on Sunday, and the film also took home trophies for Costume Design and Score, while Jean Dujardin became the first Frenchman to pick up the coveted Best Actor award for his portrayal as silent film star George Valentin.
Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese's first 3D film Hugo picked up five of its 11 nominations in categories including Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
Other big winners at the 84th Academy Awards included Meryl Streep (Best Actress), Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress), Woody Allen (Best Original Screenplay), Alexander Payne (Best Adapted Screenplay), Christopher Plummer, who, at 82, became the oldest actor ever to win an Academy Award, for his supporting role in Beginners, and A Separation, which became the first movie from Iran to win a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Billy Crystal returned to host the ceremony for the ninth time and kicked off the show with one of his famous movie montages, playing The Artist's leading man George Valentin in a silent torture scene and George Clooney's comatose partner in The Descendants.
The odd couple shared a kiss as the movie hunk and Oscar nominee woke the sleeping comic and told him he had to host the ceremony, joking, "The Academy has got the youngest, hippest writers in town."
Crystal also placed himself in scenes from The Help, Bridesmaids, The Adventures of Tin Tin, Moneyball and Midnight in Paris, where he doubled up as Sammy Davis Jr. opposite Justin Bieber.
There was also a cameo for Tom Cruise in a brief Mission: Impossible skit.
In his opening monologue, Crystal joked, "The movies have always been there for us... so tonight, enjoy yourself because nothing can take the sting out of the world's economic problems like watching millionaires present each other with golden statues."
The full list of 2012 Oscar winners is:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Best Achievement in Directing
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Alexander Payne, Jim Rash & Nat Faxon (The Descendants)
Best Animated Feature Film
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
A Separation (Iran)
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Robert Richardson (Hugo)
Best Achievement in Editing
Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Best Achievement in Art Direction
Dante Ferretti & Francesca Lo Schiavo (Hugo)
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Mark Bridges (The Artist)
Best Achievement in Makeup
Mark Coulier & J. Roy Helland (The Iron Lady)
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Ludovic Bource (The Artist)
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Bret McKenzie (Man or Muppet from The Muppets)
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Tom Fleischman & John Midgley (Hugo)
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Phillip Stockton & Eugene Gearty (Hugo)
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman & Alex Henning (Hugo)
Best Documentary Feature
Best Documentary Short
Best Short Film, Animated
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Best Short Film, Live Action
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Awards
James Earl Jones, Dick Smith & Oprah Winfrey
Ralph Fiennes (the esteemed actor now best known for embodying Voldemort in the Harry Potter films) gave himself no small challenge for his first directorial effort. Coriolanus is a dense political Shakespeare play modernized by Fiennes and writer John Logan (Gladiator The Aviator Hugo) into a raw bloody war movie. The film maintains the play's original text a theatrical speech that manages to both heighten and impede the drama in certain instances. But Fiennes injects the material with unfiltered energy and even when the story is lost in its own intricacies it's visceral and commanding.
Presented against the nightmarish backdrop of "Rome " a Children of Men-esque land devastated by raging battles Coriolanus follows the troubled political career of Caius Martius Coriolanus (Fiennes) a general who fights resistance movements butts heads with local protestors and evades attack from influential statesmen. Martius is driven by one goal: to defeat his former friend and long-time nemesis Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) leader of the opposing Volscian army. Rather than attend to the city's rioting population the general joins his military squad to breach the Volscian's walls in hopes of going mano a mano with Aufidius. Martius achieves victory after victory (without putting an end to his Aufidius troubles) becoming a hero to his government. Eventually through his overbearing mother's persuasion Martius is convinced to put down his semi-automatic and begin an ascent to political greatness. It doesn't go so well.
Even if the abridged version of Coriolanus presented in the adaptation was a slow-paced talky drama every detail of Shakespeare's complicated narrative may still be difficult to parse but Fiennes isn't looking to hold any hands. He shoots his movie with the kineticism of a Bourne movie or the recent Hurt Locker full of shaky cam movement and too-close-for-comfort close-ups. He uses the extreme presentation of 24 news networks to replicate in Shakespeare's expository asides while bombarding our senses. He has a cast who can deliver The Bard's poetic dialogue with a cadence that fits realistic setting. The sound and feel of the language is as important as the meaning.
Fiennes isn't as concerned with audiences registering every last minutiae of Coriolanus and he takes every opportunity he can to let his cast off their leash to dig into the drama's inherent intensity. The director/actor plays Caius Martius Coriolanus like a rabid dog—crazed behind the eyes and ready to unleash a barrage of hellfire and spit. Butler's Tullus Aufidius is a low-key foil but when the two finally butt heads neither gentleman holds back. The real stand out is Vanessa Redgrave as Martius' mother Volumnia whose hushed manipulation is even more terrifying than Martius' over aggression.
Coherence isn't the priority in Coriolanus and attempts to connect with the characters becomes a chore but Fiennes's first foray into directing is enjoyable in the exhilaration it delivers to a time-honored text. Forget your memories of 11th grade English—this is unique adrenaline-infused Shakespeare.
The year is 2057 and Al Gore be damned global cooling is threatening mankind: The sun is on the verge of death which would equal the death of the planet. Seven years earlier a space mission Icarus I was shot up to deliver a payload that would reignite the sun; nobody has since heard from those aboard all of whom are assumed dead. Now it’s up to Icarus II comprised of an eight-passenger crew of physicists and astronauts led by Capt. Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada) and including pilot Cassie (Rose Byrne) biologist Corazon (Michelle Yeoh) and archrivals Capa (Cillian Murphy) and Mace (Chris Evans). As the ship is floating along a blip shows up on the audible radar ostensibly coming from Icarus I. The crew is faced with a difficult crucial decision only to be compounded when a miscalculation by the navigator (Benedict Wong) takes them slightly off course. If they pursue the signal from Icarus I it could unlock key secrets as to what went wrong the first time and provide an extra payload—or it could be a fatal mistake. Either way it’s nowhere near the toughest decision they’ll be forced to make. As a heartthrob who can act Cillian Murphy is precisely the double threat Chris Evans aspires to be someday soon. Maybe that’ll happen on his next movie The Nanny Diaries because Sunshine finds him miscast—and testosterone-y when he’s supposed to be testy. Evans fresh off the more suitable Fantastic Four sequel isn’t quite cut out for the heady stuff in which he must internalize his inner action star. Murphy to be fair is no great shakes either. Clearly he’s now a Danny Boyle favorite but in their last collaboration 2002’s 28 Days Later the doomsday scenario was different and Murphy’s character would’ve been toast if he were half as sedate as his character Capa is in Sunshine. He comes alive towards the end but that’s when the movie comes undone. A possible future Boyle favorite talented Aussie actress Byrne who starred in this year’s Boyle-produced 28 Weeks Later could’ve benefited from more face time—as could have the film. In other words there’s no true female voice. Talented supporters like Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha) and Troy Garity (Barbershop) who stars as the second-in-command are grossly underused but Sunshine does need all the Chris Evans it can muster lest bad box office attacks. Just as his actors in Sunshine are our last great hope to save the dying sun director Danny Boyle may be our last great hope to save the sci-fi genre. Accordingly sci-fi fans will definitely love where Boyle’s head is at but the rest of us will think he’s just got a bad case of ADD. Boyle director of beloved movies Trainspotting and 28 Days Later as well as largely reviled The Beach spends most of the movie with proper pacing messages and themes—only to erase it all from our memories with a spastic final act. He takes the ending in all manner of directions and genres after sucking us in with serious quasi-topical commentary on life in general and life aboard a spaceship. It’s too bad. Ditto writer/frequent collaborator Alex Garland (The Beach 28 Days Later) who touches on some fascinating far regions of sci-fi-dom but winds up leaving them in space dust to co-indulge on the ending. The superb cinematography is on par with that of Boyle’s past work but the simpler shots are more entrancing than the complex ones: When the characters sit on an observation deck to reflect on a close-up of the burning sun it’s more profound and impressive than the frenetic special-effects-heavy camerawork at the end. Which is perhaps the best way to sum up the slow-fast dynamic of the film.