The 81st Annual Academy Awards were given out at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA last night and pretty much everyone on Earth tuned in to watch the show … or, at least, they should have because last night’s Oscars were the most entertaining of any show in recent memory. A bunch of tweaks to the traditional format, coupled with an energetic and engaging (ie. HOT) host conspired to give us, IMHO, THE best Academy Awards ever. Here are a few photos from the red carpet arrivals last night:
God bless Brangelina, they showed up to last night’s awards with the biggest smiles they could muster to try and show the world that they were honored “just to be nominated” because, judging by their collective track records during this year’s awards show season, they knew they were going home empty-handed … which is exactly what ended up happening by night’s end. Sarah Jessica Parker looked like a DREAM in that beautiful dress … it was a little Carrie Bradshaw but she pulled it off wonderfully. Generally, I was quite pleased with what I saw on the red carpet … Sophia Loren didn’t scare the hell out of me until she showed up on the Oscar stage to present her award. In HD, she was not treated too kindly.
For me, tho, the big star of the night was Hugh Jackman. He really turned in an amazing performance and totally made the show. His opening number (and subsequent numbers, I must add) really showed that there is life yet in the old Academy Awards and they are worth watching:
I was also very impressed with the way the Academy chose to honor the acting nominees by having former winners in their categories come on stage to say nice things about them. I know I was touched by some of the nice things said about the actors who were nominated this year … I can only imagine what an honor it was for the nominees to hear those same things being said about them, to them. I hope they will continue to honor the nominees in this way in future shows … it was my second favorite thing about the show after Hugh‘s job hosting.
And how about those winners! I think everyone was pretty surprised by that “shocker” of a winner. After the jump, check out some photos of some of the winners posing with their shiny new Oscars and read about what went down last night — oh, and watch Hugh Jackman‘s amazing Oscar opening one more time — it’s deffo worth it …
Slumdog Millionaire ended up finishing its fairy tale run by taking home the award for Best Picture … but I think it was Sean Penn‘s upset over Mickey Rourke for Best Actor that really surprised a lot of people (me included):
“Slumdog Millionaire” and its director, Danny Boyle, with their modern-day fairy tale about hope and hard times in the slums of Mumbai, pushed aside big-studio contenders to sweep top honors at the 81st annual Academy Awards on Sunday. “You dwarf even the sky,” Mr. Boyle said in a tribute to the people of Mumbai, who figured by the thousands in his film. He spoke while accepting the best director award, only minutes before “Slumdog Millionaire” was named best picture, helping give the evening a distinctly international tilt. Mr. Boyle, 52, has been known for putting an inspirational twist on often dark and sophisticated movies that have included “Trainspotting,” about heroin addiction, and “Sunshine,” about sacrifice on a mission to reignite the sun. The many prizes for “Slumdog Millionaire” — whose writer, Simon Beaufoy, was honored for best adapted screenplay, among others prizes for the film — completed the film’s steady march past competitors like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” from Paramount Pictures and “Frost/Nixon” from Universal Pictures. The best picture award was a first for Fox Searchlight, which distributed “Slumdog Millionaire” in the United States. In the past, the studio appeared to narrowly miss the big prize with a series of comic best picture nominees that included “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Sideways” and “The Full Monty.” In what was widely perceived to be one of the year’s few tight races, Sean Penn was named best actor for his performance in the title role in “Milk.” “You Commie, homo-loving sons of guns,” said Mr. Penn, who edged aside Brad Pitt and Mickey Rourke, among others, for the best actor Oscar, his second. Best actress honors went to Kate Winslet for her performance in “The Reader” as a German woman who becomes romantically involved with a teenager and later conceals her role in the Holocaust. Hollywood has been taking on more and more of a global tilt with each passing year, but on this evening it was especially evident in the show and in the awards themselves. After Penélope Cruz won for best supporting actress for her role in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” she gave part of her speech in Spanish — she said backstage it was a dedication to the actors and people of Spain — and then suggested backstage that the movies had to grow beyond the bounds of strictly American stories. “We are all mixed together, and it has to be reflected in the cinema,” she said. The supporting actress award, the night’s first, was presented by no less than five past winners of the prize, Whoopi Goldberg, Tilda Swinton, Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn and Anjelica Huston. The heavy show of star power was meant to make good on a promise that the broadcast would deliver entertainment value that reached far beyond that offered by the nominees. Heath Ledger, in a widely anticipated development, posthumously won the best supporting actor prize for his performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” Mr. Ledger’s parents afterward said his Oscar statuette would be held in trust by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Many other awards also went to those favored in the preshow betting. Dustin Lance Black won the best original screenplay Oscar for “Milk,” about the gay-rights advocate Harvey Milk. Mr. Black, who is openly gay, said Mr. Milk’s story had given him hope that one day he might “fall in love and even get married.” Mr. Beaufoy, whose “Slumdog” screenplay was based on a novel by Vikas Swarup, rattled off a list of places he never expected to be — “the moon, the South Pole, the Miss World podium and here” — as he accepted that award for his work on a film that captured many of the movie industry’s pre-Oscar honors and was widely viewed as a preordained winner of the evening’s final award, for best picture. Also in the first wave of awards, “Wall-E” was named best animated film, though it had been denied the best picture nomination that its backers at the Walt Disney Company and its Pixar Animation unit had sought. Overall, Sunday evening’s Oscar show became a struggle between the ambitions of a producing team — headed by the veteran film producer Laurence Mark and the filmmaker Bill Condon — that aimed for an evening full of surprises and the apparent determination of 5,810 voters in the academy to bestow honors largely where they were expected to go. A much-discussed new format for the show opened with a loosey-goosey showbiz number and proceeded along very self-referential lines, with lots of inside jokes that drew substantial laughs from the crowd inside the Kodak Theater here. Hugh Jackman, the evening’s host, started with a very short comic monologue that poked fun at his own failure to get nominated for his performance in “Australia.” He then plunged into a comic song-and-dance number that poked fun at serious movies that were nominated for best picture, including “Milk” and “Frost/Nixon,” and less serious movies that were not, including “The Dark Knight.” An early appearance by the screenwriting winners helped give the evening a story line of its own: the awards categories were arranged in blocks intended to reflect the process of building a film, beginning, in the first segment, with a blinking cursor tapping out the beginning of a script on a blank screen. In another departure, the celebrity presenters were not identified in advance, partly in the hope that a larger-than-usual audience would tune in to see who actually showed up. Last year’s broadcast, with the smallest domestic audience in the ceremony’s history, had only about 32 million viewers in the United States.
It remains to be seen what the ratings for last night’s awards show are at the time of this posting but I really hope the show did well … I was very pleased with the overall production. While there will, undoubtedly, be naysayers complaining about this or that … I think it should be noted that the producers worked really hard to put on an entertaining show. I, for one (and the folks at our Oscar party, for that matter) really appreciated and enjoyed the show.
I was really touched by the Ledger family’s acceptance of Heath Ledger‘s posthumous award for Best Supporting Actor … I was just really happy that they were able to get some happy closure (in some way, I think) after Heath‘s untimely death. But, I think I liked Sean Penn‘s acceptance speech best. His call for marriage equality resonated with me … he is a worthy man to portray the life’s work of Harvey Milk. While I was really anticipating Mickey Rourke to win, my heart sang that a film like Milk was honored by the Academy Awards this year.
Again, I really enjoyed this year’s show … I can’t believe it’s already over … but I think one more look at Hugh‘s opening musical performance is deffo in order:
Absolutely brills! Click HERE to see a full list of this year’s Academy Award winners. What did y’all think? Did YOU enjoy the show?
[Photo credit: Wireimage, Source]