BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Last year’s Academy Award® winners Meryl Streep, Jean Dujardin, Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer will return to present on this year’s telecast, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today.
“We are honored to have Meryl, Octavia, Christopher and Jean, last year’s Oscar winners in each of the acting categories, return to the Oscar stage,” said Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
Streep, who is the most nominated actor with 17 nominations, has won three Academy Awards®, including last year’s lead actress award for her performance in “The Iron Lady.” Dujardin won the award for his lead performance in the Best Picture winner “The Artist,” it was his first nomination. Spencer, also a first time nominee, took home the Oscar for her supporting role in Best Picture nominee “The Help.” Plummer, who has twice been nominated, won the award for his supporting role in “Beginners.”
Monica Corcoran Harel is contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage.
Unlike monotonous years past when a color or style prevailed, tonight’s Academy Awards Red Carpet teemed with extremes. Actresses either went strapless and exposed chiseled clavicles or opted for demure long sleeves. Some coerced their hair into crazy Cinnabon updos, while others played it loose with windswept, just-got-lucky-in-the-limo waves. All in all, it was a good night for fashion. Meryl Streep channeled a female Oscar in gold lame Lanvin, Rooney Mara didn’t wear black and Sacha Baron Cohen claimed to be wearing “Galliano with socks from K-Mart.”
When it came to color, a majority went white — a hue the costume designer Edith Head once said “can be gay or somber.” In the case of 20-year-old Shailene Woodley in a mod Valentino Couture gown, the look was a bit matronly and Babe Paley circa 1960 for such a dewy star. Gwyneth Paltrow, whose bright white Tom Ford column gown with an architectural duster stood out like spilled milk, looked bright and awake. Rooney Mara, however, seemed more like a Tim Burton Goth bride in her Givenchy dress with a bondage-style back and transparent train.
Red, too, made a strong showing thanks to Natalie Portman, Emma Stone and Michelle Williams. Portman’s vintage polka-dotted Christian Dior gown was charming, though the hem was slightly wrinkled. (Shouldn’t limos come equipped with steamers?) Stone’s scarlet Giambattista Valli — embellished with a toaster-sized bow on the left shoulder — had critics hissing that it was too redolent of the Balenciaga dress Nicole Kidman wore to the 2007 Oscars. Oh, stop. Doesn’t Hollywood make the same movies every year? Williams, ever the gamine, looked great in that coral Louis Vuitton with a sweet peplum waist that gave her some curves.
Once a year it seems a performance comes across as more than the sum of good writing, strong direction and lucky timing. The performance appears to be rooted in the reality of the actor’s history; in essence they have lived much of what they are being asked to portray. Such is Octavia Spencer‘s portrait of Minny Jackson in The Help. She plays a maid who suffers through emotional and physical beatings like a native but not a naive veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement — Spencer grew up in Montgomery, Ala., and graduated with a BS in Liberal Arts from Auburn. Perhaps it’s the combination of her education, Southern comfort and humor that have helped Spencer emerge as a Supporting Actress frontrunner for the Oscars even with such equally impressive co-stars as Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney and Oscar-winner Sissy Spacek. She spoke with AwardsLine contributor Craig Modderno about her experience with The Help, which is up for four Oscars including Best Picture.
AWARDSLINE: Many actors say they’re perfect for the role especially when they’re auditioning. Was your part in The Help a natural fit for you?
SPENCER: I don’t know. Basically it was physically, because I suspect Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, who I knew while she was writing the book, might have modeled the character after me. But there are a lot of other short and round black women in the South who also seem to not hesitate in speaking their minds. Even though I was friends with the author and other influential members of the production team, I still had to audition for the role. When I did, in the back of my mind, I thought I was hearing someone ask if Jennifer Hudson was available yet!
The Help accumulated more accolades tonight with the NAACP Image Awards naming it Best Motion Picture, and Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were chosen Best Actress and Supporting Actress. Ceremonies at the Shrine Auditorium were hosted by Sanaa Latham and Anthony Mackie. In addition, the Founding Members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association received the NAACP President’s Award. A list of winners in motion picture and TV categories follows:
Outstanding Motion Picture
“The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture
Laz Alonso – “Jumping the Broom”
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Viola Davis – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Mike Epps – “Jumping the Broom” (TriStar Pictures)
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Octavia Spencer – “The Help” (DreamWorks Pictures/
Outstanding Independent Motion Picture
“Pariah” (Focus Features)
Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture
“In the Land of Blood and Honey” (FilmDistrict)