It’s Oscar time again. Time to whip out the microphones, fake kisses, glittering gowns, and tissue. But, for all the collagen flavored hype that precedes every awards program, this year’s Oscars were designed more to entertain the viewer than to show three hours of heartfelt teary thank you to agents.
Hugh Jackman was an energetic, enthusiastic, and polished host that kept the show together. The Grammys made the mistake of having no on-stage host, which gave it no cohesiveness and left Billy Joe Armstrong to reluctantly say good night almost as if he had drawn the short straw by happening to be one of the last people on stage.
Jackman was a sparkling, dynamic presence who performed a short but laugher inducing monologue and two Broadway like musical numbers. The first number in the opening was a musical summary of the best picture nominees. The joke was that, because of “the Economy,” the props were made cheap like a like they were from a high school musical (or junior-high school musical). The second number showed that Jackman could go head to head with Beyonce Knowles as they and countless other performers exclaimed “the musical is back!” There were no ad-libbed, Billy Crystal type moments; However, the standing ovation given Jackman was a well deserved indication that he succeed in charming the theater audience and us viewers with his good looks … oh yeah, and talent too. I must admit I was off my couch, applauding in my slippered my feet as well.
The theme of the awards was the olden days of Hollywood. The Kodak Theater luminously glittered. During the Jackman and Knowles number, clips from classic movies were projected on a screen above. The music them was based on the theme of Laurence of Arabia.
Everyone showed their most professional and gracious behavior. There were no teary speeches like Hally Berry or jumps for joy like Cuba Gooding Jr. There were no overly labored jokes from presenters. The only advertisement for a personal political philosophy came from Bill Maher saying, “We must all recognize our silly gods cost the world.” If he believes everyone should have their own freedom of conscience, he shouldn’t condescend to everyone who doesn’t hold his own atheistic beliefs. If we wanted a religious or political opinion, we’d watch CNN.
The biggest winner of the night was Slumdog Millionaire. The film won eight Oscars in the categories of original song, original score, film editing, sound mixing, cinematography, best adapted screen-play, best director, and best picture. Each person accepting and award for this film was extremely gracious. Resul Pookutty, one of the winners for sound mixing, expressed, “This is history being handed over to me.”
The biggest snub in my opinion was for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which was nominated for thirteen categories. It won only three for art direction, make-up and visual effects.
The most somber moment was when Heath Ledger won for best supporting actor and his family accepted with dignity and gratitude. For that moment, all the eyes in the Kodak Theater were filled with tears.
The most interesting thing about this year’s Oscars is how the nominees were announced. It was more than just names. The screen-play nominees were introduced by parts of the actual screen plays being read. The best original score showed short performances of the actual scores. Documentary film nominees were interviewed. The winners for acting categories were presented the statue by groups of five past winners in the same category. It kept the show from being a dry list of names that makes viewers press fast-forward on their DVRs. After all, entertainment is what the Oscars are all about. That being said here is a complete list of nominees and winners:
Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Also nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Frost/Nixon; Milk; The Reader
Best director: Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
Also nominated: Stephen Daldry – The Reader; David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon; Gus Van Sant – Milk
Best actor: Sean Penn – Milk
Also nominated: Richard Jenkins – The Visitor; Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon; Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Best actress: Kate Winslet – The Reader
Also nominated: Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married; Angelina Jolie – Changeling; Melissa Leo – Frozen River; Meryl Streep – Doubt
Best supporting actor: Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Also nominated: Josh Brolin – Milk; Robert Downey Jr – Tropic Thunder; Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt; Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road
Best supporting actress: Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Also nominated: Amy Adams – Doubt; Viola Davis – Doubt; Taraji P Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
Best original screenplay: Milk
Also nominated: Happy-Go-Lucky; Wall-E; In Bruges; Frozen River
Best adapted screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Also nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Doubt; Frost/Nixon; The Reader
Best animated feature film: Wall-E
Also nominated: Bolt; Kung Fu Panda
Best animated short film: La Maison en Petits Cubes
Also nominated: Lavatory – Lovestory; Oktapodi; Presto; This Way Up
Best foreign language film: Departures – Japan
Also nominated: Revanche – Austria; The Class – France; The Baader Meinhof Complex – Germany; Waltz With Bashir – Israel
Best documentary feature: Man on Wire
Also nominated: The Betrayal; Encounters at the End of the World; The Garden; Trouble The Water
Best documentary short subject: Smile Pinki
Also nominated: The Conscience of Nhem En; The Final Inch; The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306
Art direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Also nominated: Changeling; The Dark Knight; The Duchess; Revolutionary Road
Costume design: The Duchess
Also nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Australia; Milk; Revolutionary Road
Make-up: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Also nominated: The Dark Knight; Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Also nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Changeling; The Dark Knight; The Reader
Best live action short film: Spielzeugland (Toyland)
Also nominated: Auf der Strecke (On The Line); Manon on the Asphalt; New Boy; The Pig
Visual effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Also nominated: The Dark Knight; Iron Man
Sound editing: The Dark Knight
Also nominated: Iron Man; Wanted; Slumdog Millionaire; Wall-E
Sound mixing: Slumdog Millionaire
Also nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Wanted; Wall-E
Film editing:Slumdog Millionaire
Also nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Frost/Nixon; Milk
Best original score: Slumdog Millionaire
Also nominated: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Defiance; Milk; Slumdog Millionaire; Wall-E
Best original song: Jai Ho – Slumdog Millionaire
Also nominated: Down To Earth – Wall-E; O Saya – Slumdog Millionaire
Sources: BBC World News America, “Oscars 2009: The Winners”, BBC NEWS