This year’s Academy Awards show did not disappoint, nor did it provide many surprises. “Slumdog Millionaire,” nominated for ten Oscars, walked away with six, including Best Picture and Best Director. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” won only three Oscars, including Art Direction, Visual Effects and Makeup. Ron Howard’s critically acclaimed “Frost/Nixon,” and “Doubt” were both shut out.
Kate Winslet finally won Best Actress for “The Reader,” after having been nominated six times without a win. Winslet was in a talented field of women, which included Meryl Streep who has been nominated a record fifteen times.
Mickey Rourke, the sentimental favorite for Best Actor in “The Wrestler,” was taken down by five-time Academy Award nominee, Sean Penn. Penn won for his portray of Harvey Milk in the film “Milk.” It was his second Oscar. Penn’s acceptance speech included the line “I know I sometimes make it hard to appreciate me…” A truer line was never spoken, but the rest of his acceptance speech, though highly political, was delivered with enough eloquence to make me like it and him.
Other winners included, Penelope Cruz for Best Supporting Actress in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” and Health Ledger for Best Supporting Actor (posthumously) for “The Dark Knight.” Ledger’s parents and sister accepted the award on the late actor’s behalf while the camera panned the audience for tears.
There were a few flubs, including a curtain that opened late, a few botched lines and a few bad celebrity pairings. Sarah Jessica Parker and Daniel Craig were an odd couple. They presented Best Costume Design, which went to “The Duchess.” Parker’s dress looked straight out of Disney’s princess wardrobe, or something you might find on a pastry tray, while Craig just looked uncomfortable. The best celebrity pairing was Tina Fey and Steve Martin, who had the audience in stitches for their entire monologue.
Many bloggers were uncertain about the choice of Hugh Jackman as host of the 81st Academy Awards, but the former stage star held his own, even in his song and dance number with Beyonce Knoll. Best Original Score and Best Song went to “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The documentary “Man on Wire,” won Best Documentary, and the film’s star, high wire walker Philippe Petit, provided a little unscripted entertainment by magically making a coin disappear and balancing the Oscar on his chin.
Old Hollywood glamour seemed to be the theme of the night, from stage design to fashion. This year introduced a new format that featured such stars as Sophia Loren as presenters, which added to the old fashion feel of the show. The princess cut dress was popular with many including Angelina Jolie and Penelope Cruz. The one-shoulder look was worn elegantly by Kate Winslet, but looked a little frumpy on Freida Pinto. There were a few fashion messes, including Sarah Jessica Parker’s exploded cream puff dress and Reese Witherspoon’s modern art disaster.
My pick for best dressed would have to be Amy Adams, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Doubt.” Adams, a redhead, chose to be daring by wearing a red satin gown. In another nod to “old” Hollywood, many of the men, including Brad Pitt wore bow ties.