23
Feb
09

A Superhero, a Gay Activist, and a “Slumdog”: Recapping the 2009 Oscars

oscar1For those who didn’t watch yes, “Slumdog” majorly won the Academy Awards.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look back at what just happened, shall we?

For the first time in “I don’t know how many” years, a foreign actor hosted the Oscars. Hugh Jackman, the Australian actor known mainly for playing “Wolverine” in the “X-Men” franchise hosted for the first time. Maybe he was selected because he was listed as a “Sexiest Man of the Year.” Maybe it’s because people love “Wolverine.” Either way he did okay, as in “passable.” Instead of inserting himself into the ceremony or making quips, as so many others have done in the past, he got that business out of the way in the opening segment. His joke about “Kate Winslet, a British actress playing a German, Robert Downey, Jr, an American actor playing an Australian actor playing an African-American, and me, an Australian actor playing in Australian in a movie called, ‘Australia’” was inciteful, but that was about it. Jackman ducked-out to let the other presenters hold the stage more than he, and maybe that was the safest route to go. I’m not quite sure that he’ll be asked back or if he would even come back if asked.

There were several themes to this year’s Oscars. The first was to give the audience at home a “stripped down” feeling as to how movies are made. This worked somewhat in the beginning when Jackman was doing a musical number that critiqued the Academy on how they made their decisions while he danced around cardboard set pieces. As the show went on this theme was reiterated but given up by the last hour.

Another theme: the Academy doesn’t like action or superhero films. Nothing is more blatant than when a $1 billion money-making movie’s nominations are centered around film editing, visual effects, and sound. If that wasn’t enough action star Will Smith hosted a segment around this fact even stating that while action movies don’t get the Academy’s attention, they do get the fans.

What’s the deal with musicals? I’ve never been a big fan of them, but apparently Hugh Jackman is. Not only did he do an opening musical number (as mentioned above) but he did another that montaged so many previous movie musicals together. Helping in the song and dance were Vanessa Hudgens, Beyonce Knowles, and members of “High School Musical 3.” After everything was said and done Hugh Jackman thanked everyone on stage. The camera quickly cut to Penelope Cruz who didn’t appear amused one bit. It then cut back to Jackman who proudly proclaimed, “This was created by Baz Luhrmann.” The camera quickly cuts to Baz who’s sitting in his chair with a look on his face that said, “Now I know what it’s like to sell my soul for a paycheck.”

One of the cool things the awards ceremony did was to present the awards for Best and Supporting Actors and Actresses by having five former Best Supporting Actors and Actresses walk onto the stage, each actor or actress lauding a specified nominee. Good job.

I was conflicted on some of the montage segments, especially with the camera zooming in on one moment, then zooming out as if we were watching a TV screen, then finding another screen and zooming in on that scene, then zooming out… etc. It worked for the animation segment, and kudos to Pixar for allowing characters from other animation studios to share space with “Wall*E.” That was cool. However the Judd Apatow Comedy montage segment was not save for Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski joining in with James Franco and Seth Rogen (“Sorry, Mr. Spielberg, business is slow.”)

One other positive note: Steve Martin and Tina Fey announcing the awards for Screenwriting. They were a great duo and one of the better pairs for the awards show.

As for the winners, losers, and upsets, let’s get this out of the way: almost everyone knew “Slumdog Millionaire” would take Best Picture (and then some) and that Heath Ledger would have a posthumous Oscar for “The Dark Knight.” Aside from that, most of the other categories people felt ambivalent about. Kate Winslet won for “The Reader,” which most critics claimed wasn’t as good as her work in “Revolutionary Road.” Whether there was any additional sympathy for “The Dark Knight” is questionable, but Batman did take home Best Sound Editing among its nominations but was upset by “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which took home Art Direction, Makeup, and Visual Effects. “Milk” won Best Original Screenplay and caused an upset for Mickey Rourke and “The Wrestler,” when Sean Penn took Best Actor instead.

And now, the winners:

Best Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn, “Milk”

Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Directing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Foreign Language Film: “Departures”

Music (Song): “Jai Ho,” “Slumdog Millionaire”

Music (Score): “Slumdog Millionaire”

Film Editing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Sound Mixing: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Sound Editing: “The Dark Knight”

Visual Effects: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Documentary Short: “Smile Pinki”

Documentary Feature: “Man on a Wire”

Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”

Actress in a Supporting Role: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

Cinematography: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Makeup: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Costume Design: “The Duchess”

Art Direction: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Short Film (Live Action): Spielzeugland (Toyland)

Short Film (Animated): “La Maison En Petites Cubes”

Animated Feature Film: “Wall*E”

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): “Slumdog Millionaire”

Writing (Original Screenplay): “Milk”

Source: www.oscars.com

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