February 28, 2011

Oscar Winners 2011

The Oscars provide one of the biggest personal brand stages of the year. Between the clothes, the pre-show interviews, and the speeches, there are multiple points for a celebrity to shine or wane. The Academy Awards can revive a flailing personal brand or damage a strong one. So let’s look at how 10 boldface names fared last night:

Brand Winners

Justin Timberlake

To capture the moment, he made a brilliant move in taking his mom to the Oscars. When you’re proud of something new, you show your mom and by doing it he showed us all that acting is his new focus and passion. It was resonant of the debut of two members of Hollywood royalty, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, who brought their moms as their dates when they were first nominated in 1998.

Reese Witherspoon

Witherspoon was a stand out for dressing up like a Hollywood legend of ole in a season when many women appeared to be in a cleavage competition. She gets an A for brand consistency with her unfaltering allegiance to her style traditional, liberal and resonant of old Hollywood glamour.

Matthew McConaughey

While walking the red carpet with his partner, Camila Alves, McConaughey was interviewed by E!’s Ryan Seacrest, who asked what he has been doing recently. McConaughey responded: “Well, we took two years off to start a family.” In that moment he transformed himself into the modern family superhero and bid a final goodbye to the carefree bachelor image that preceded this chapter.

Natalie Portman

Portman handled herself with her trademark confidence and grace while she accepted the award for Best Actress for her role in Black Swan. Her speech revealed a combination of nerves, pride and poise. As always, she carried herself with the demeanor of a woman serious about her craft rather than as a sexy starlet, making her a model for her peers.

Aaron Sorkin

Sorkin took home the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network and his speech could have been a blueprint for future winners. A great writer and known for understanding his audience, he confirmed what we already suspected that he has unlimited potential. He gracefully managed to stay entertaining while reciting a long list of personal thank yous. His finale, a shout-out to his daughter, gave us a sense of his softer side.

Brand Losers

Gwyneth Paltrow

On the red carpet, Paltrow nailed it by charming each of the interviewers with her confident yet appropriately humble style. She also revealed that she hadn’t slept in a week with pre-performance jitters and once she took the stage, it was evident why. She was more like a second rate karaoke singer than a rock star. The Oscar winner turned singer is resonant of Michael Jordan’s switch to baseball.

Marisa Tomei

Recently out of the spotlight, this was Tomei’s chance to shine. Instead she dimmed the lights, appearing in a matronly dress that she could wear just as easily 20 years from now. Her gown served as a reminder of just how long ago she won best supporting actress for My Cousin Vinny.

Tim Gunn

The designer turned Project Runway star was so uncomfortable in his role as interviewer for ABC’s pre-show, it was hard to believe this was the same guy that had earned his keep next to the take-no-prisoners Heidi Klum. At one point it looked like he might bow at Gwyneth’s feet after interviewing her. He should stick to his strengths and leave the leave hosting to the pros.

Melissa Leo

The Fighter co-star won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, which was the culmination of her more than 27 year career. We sat waiting for her speech, the one we assumed she had been preparing since she first started acting in 1984. When she spoke, it was a stream of consciousness that revealed nothing of her except an inexcusable lack of preparation and a penchant for the F word. She ruined her moment.

The Co-hosts

Anne Hathaway and James Franco

Hathaway launched her appearance by saying, “This is actually happening,” followed by a wave to her mother who told her to stand up straight. While humility is useful as an Oscar winner, it has the reverse effect as a co-host. Not even her high energy could make us feel she belonged up there.


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