February 23, 2009

In the News/Random Musing: The Academy Awards '09

Wow. The film awards event of the season will never fail to impress me, I am certain. While I missed it last year to see my partner sing in his church's performance of Bach's "St. John Passion" (audience cue: "Aww!"), the 81st Annual Academy Awards ceremony lived up to the sensationalism of its predecessors. My favorite part of the night was the star-studded revelations of the winners in the acting categories. Not only did the winner from the previous year come out to announce the new winner, four other past winners came to help. The abundance of star power was certainly a rush for Oscar junkies like me who excitedly named everyone as he or she appeared on stage and the film for which he or she won the award. I thought I was going to die happily in my chair as Sophia Loren, that beautiful Italian goddess who won the Oscar in 1960 for "Two Women," strode to the left of the stage to help announce Best Actress. I furthermore thought I would die seeing both Eva Marie Saint (still as adorable as ever at age 84) and Joel Grey (who played my all-time favorite character from a musical, Emcee in "Cabaret"). This Oscar night had style, and it had stars.

Meanwhile, while I was unsurprised to watch "Slumdog Millionaire" go home with 8 awards (out of 9 nominations), it was a surprising night in other regards. For example, "The Dark Knight" lost in a few categories, such as cinematography and sound mixing, that I had expected it to take, and I did not expect Penélope Cruz to get her Oscar. However, let us see where the cards fell, shall we?

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Original Song: "Jai Ho," music by A.R. Rahman, lyrics by Gulzar, Slumdog Millionaire
Original Score: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
Sound Mixing: Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty; Slumdog Millionaire
Film Editing: Chirs Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
Writing, Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Do I see a trend? "Slumdog" captured three of the "big five," along with some other notable technical awards. The fact that it won at least five more awards than any other film should say something to you. (However, I still think "Best Picture" should have been "Revolutionary Road"! To see why, click here.)

Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Writing, Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
This was certainly a touching night for the LGBT community. (For why these wins were so important, see this.) Meanwhile, congratulations to Penn for his second win this decade!

Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor: Health Ledger, The Dark Knight
Animated Feature Film: Andrew Stanton, Wall-E
All of these were expected from the get-go. I am so proud of Kate Winslet, now deservedly recognized for her talent. Meanwhile, the thank you by the family of the late Ledger was quite touching and appropriate. Congratulations to all.

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
I did not initially expect this victory, but it is logical - they say Woody writes good characters. As if Dianne Wiest ("Hannah & Her Sisters," "Bullets Over Broadway"), Michael Caine ("Hannah & Her Sisters"), Diane Keaton ("Annie Hall"), and Mira Sorvino ("Mighty Aphrodite"), among others, could not indicate this.

Foreign Language Film: Departures, (Japan) directed by: Yojiro Takita
I am just glad it was not "Waltz with Bashir"! (To see why, click here.)

Documentary Feature: James Marsh and Simon Chinn, Man on Wire
"Encounters at the End of the World" was robbed! (To see why, click here.) I mean, it was made by Werner Herzog, for chrissake!

Hearty congratulations to all winners (and to all nominees!) - your achievements have been appropriately recognized. I cannot wait until next year!


Michael Wilt said...

Yeah I wasn't surprised with all the Slumdog awards. I found Dustin Lance Black's speech to be rather touching, actually. Good review.

Jessica said...

Sopia Loren looked like she was dying. I did like how the 5 people came out to present the award. That was cool.