Monday, February 23, 2009

You've Gotta Give 'Em Hope, or How Oscar Got Its Groove Back

I woke up this morning in a mangled heap. My bedsheets were congregated in the furthermost corner of my bed, I turned my weary bones to see a trail of toilet roll coming out of the bathroom. My head did, and still does, feel like a train has run over it (either that or a Slumdog Millionaire fanatic has kicked it in - they're evil you know), and my stomach is emanating a collection of sounds comparable to urban warfare.

From what I remember last night was wonderful. Hugh Jackman's hyped hosting an unrivalled success, and a classy back-to-basics style ceremony that encompassed past winners returning to present the acting awards (a bit of a strange process, but one that instilled so much pride in the leading Actress nominees at the sight of Sophia Loren and Shirley MaClaine that it hardly mattered), and it's good that the organisers of the show seemed so keen on giving these people their moment in the spotlight, however long that moment was going to last.

The best speeches of the night were the Milk wins. Especially Dustin Lance Black, who came across as so overcome, genuine, and humble, and it's encouraging to see gay men honoured for gay-themed films and the issues that said film represents confronted so passionately and gracefully. I suspect that these Oscars will be lauded, since Hugh's musical theatrics went down so well, and the film the whole world and his wife seemingly wanted to triumph did the job. Personally, it represented my most fruitful prediction score ever, with 20 out of 24 categories correct, including the wins for Penn and The Dark Knight in Sound Editing. But I should have predicted Departures (and probably would have if I'd done them a couple of days later) since virtually everyone was telling me it was in with a chance in the last week.

I will mention one positive thing about Slumdog's big win. I have always loved the idea of the cast and crew going up to collect the award together. Filmmaking is a team sport, and if Danny Boyle's film has generated anything lasting and meaningful it's the community with which its fiercely devoted set of fans embody, and the decision for everyone to be involved in its big moment seems incredibly apt in this way.

Best Win: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight
Worst Win: Slumdog Millionaire for Adapted Screenplay
Best Speech: Dustin Lance Black for Milk
Worst Speech: There wasn't really one.
Best Dressed: Taraji P. Henson, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway
Worst Dressed: Beyonce, Melissa Leo
Best Moment: Philippe Petit balancing the Oscar on his nose
Worst Moment: Ben Stiller's weird Joaquin Phoenix impersonation

So I guess that's another Oscar race over, but I imagine it won't be long before we're discussing the chances of Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, and whoever else in 2009. My review of 2008 and Addict awards will begin in a couple of days.

The Oscar Winners (as if you didn't know)

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Feature: WALL-E
Best Animated Short: La Maison en Petites Cubes
Best Art Direction: Benjamin Button
Best Costume Design: The Duchess
Best Makeup: Benjamin Button
Best Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Live Action Short: Toyland
Best Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
Best Documentary Short: Smile Pinki
Best Visual Effects: Benjamin Button
Best Sound Editing: The Dark Knight
Best Sound Mixing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Film Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Music Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Song: Jai Ho, Slumdog Millionaire

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