2009 Oscar Round-Up

Ben Stiller.  Seth Rogen.  James Franco.  Steve Martin. 
 
What do these four stars have in common?  They’re all funnier in minutes than Hugh Jackman is in hours.  The charismatic Australian tried to hoof and sing, and occasionally quip his way through The 81st Annual Academy Awards.  Having previously hosted The Tonys, the actor best known as Wolverine from The X-Men movies was quite a comedown from past hosts like Jon Stewart, Billy Crystal and, of course, Martin.  While limiting his attempts at humour (a wise move), whenever he actually went for a laugh it fell far short.  A couple of mild chuckles just isn’t cutting it.  And the dance numbers were completely unnecessary.  Rob Lowe and Snow White, all is forgiven.
 
Meanwhile, as Richard Roeper correctly predicted, Slumdog Millionaire was the biggest winner.  The film that very nearly didn’t get a theatrical distribution took home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing and Best Original Song for Jai Ho; eight Oscars altogether.  The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button had to settle for victories in the Best Make-Up, Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction categories.
 
As expected, Heath Ledger won for Best Supporting Actor, thanks to his universally acclaimed performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight.  His parents and sister accepted the honour on his behalf with class and dignity.  His young daughter, Matilida, will have quite a memento to cherish always.  The film also won for Best Sound Editing.
 
Milk, Gus Van Sant’s biopic of San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, a film that took almost two decades to get made, won for Best Original Screenplay.  Sean Penn was named Best Actor for playing the title character.  He graciously singled out fellow nominee Mickey Rourke and rightly criticized the anti-gay marriage movement.  
 
Wall-E won for Best Animated Feature.  That’s Pixar’s fourth win in this category.  Penelope Cruz, who worried about being the first winner to faint on stage (she didn’t), was named Best Supporting Actress for her critically acclaimed performance in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona.  And Kate Winslet snagged the Best Actress gong for appearing in The Reader.  Hands down, she delivered the best speech.  She rightly thanked her parents first rather than last (there was a cute moment where she wondered where her father was in the audience; she asked him to whistle so she could find him and he did), confessed to have practiced giving Oscar acceptance speeches in front of the bathroom mirror since she was a wee lass and acknowledged Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, two of the film’s producers who died last year.
 
A close second would have to be Phillipe Petit, the subject of the Best Documentary Feature winner, Man On Wire.  After making a gold coin disappear, he briefly balanced an Oscar on his face.  Even the cynical Bill Maher, who presented the award, was impressed.  (The complete list of winners are at the end of this entry.)
 
The only real surprise was The Best Foreign Language Film winner, Departures.  The animated Israeli picture, Waltz With Bashir, which curiously didn’t get a Best Animated Feature nomination, was widely expected to win.  This was one of only three categories Richard Roeper got wrong this year.  That’s right.  He went 21 for 24.  Take a bow, sir.  Sure beats my measly 12 out of 24.  At least I won the annual family Oscar pool.  5 years in a row, baby!  10 overall.
 
Some other observations…
 
Um, Alan Arkin?  It’s Philip Seymour Hoffman, not Seymour Philip Hoffman.
 
Speaking of Hoffman, what was the deal with that black touque?  Planning a heist after the show, Phil?
 
Who was the genius who thought it would be a good idea to showcase the In Memoriam montage from angles so far away and mobile that you couldn’t always see the images clearly or read the names and their credits?  It looked disrespectful and unprofessional.
 
Danny Boyle looks like Morrissey’s cheerful older brother.
 
James Franco and Seth Rogan were hilarious reprising their Pineapple Express characters.  Absolutely loved it when they laughed at the serious movies, among other things.
 
Steve Martin should’ve hosted the show again.  Tina Fey set him up beautifully with one great zinger after another.
 
Ben Stiller had some funny moments imitating Joaquin Phoenix’s recent appearance on David Letterman’s program.  He could’ve gone further but he made me laugh a number of times nevertheless.
 
Why did it take forever to get through the acting categories?  I’m sure the nominees appreciated being congratulated like that but it slowed things down considerably.  Go back to the old way.  It was better.
 
It was neat to hear Coldplay’s Lovers In Japan, a bit of their Viva La Vida and Tick Tick Boom by The Hives during the Romance 2008 montage, the Jerry Lewis package and the Action 2008 montage, respectively.
 
Anthony Hopkins looks awfully thin.  What happened?
 
For the first time in years, no winners were cut off while making their thank yous.  It’s about time.
 
 
The complete list of winners:
 
BEST PICTURE – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
 
BEST DIRECTOR – Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE)
 
BEST ACTOR – Sean Penn (MILK)
 
BEST ACTRESS – Kate Winslet (THE READER)
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Heath Ledger (THE DARK KNIGHT)
 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Penelope Cruz (VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA)
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – MILK
 
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
 
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – WALL-E
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – MAN ON WIRE
 
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FEATURE – DEPARTURES
 
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Jai Ho (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE)
 
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
 
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – LA MAISON ET PETITS CUBES
 
BEST ART DIRECTION – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
 
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – THE DUCHESS
 
BEST MAKE-UP  – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
 
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
 
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
 
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – TOYLAND
 
BEST FILM EDITING – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
 
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT – SMILE PINKI
 
BEST SOUND EDITING – THE DARK KNIGHT
 
BEST SOUND MIXING – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
 
 
Jean Hersholt Award – Jerry Lewis
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, February 23, 2009
1:45 a.m.
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Published in: on February 23, 2009 at 1:45 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I just read about Ben Stiller on MSN. They said he wasn’t funny at all with the imitation. But, you’re bang on dude, I couldn’t stop laughing. Do you think J.Pho was faking on Letterman… or is he finally going down the “River” with drugs? Either way, that Letterman interview was priceless! And you’re right- wolverine was LAME!

  2. I missed the original broadcast but just caught the repeat tonight. He is a recovering alcoholic and was in a car accident a few years ago. Whether any of that played a role in the interview, I don’t know. As for the interview itself, I’m completely confused. I can’t decide if he was genuinely being unresponsive or method acting. According to this interview (http://www.cinemablend.com/new.php?id=11992), conducted the same day as the Letterman fiasco, he’s absolutely dead serious about pursuing music over movies. It’s not unusual for him to be in and out of acting, by the way. He’s done it a number of times before. But to answer your question, I don’t know if he was faking or high.


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