Nice touches for this year’s Oscars, including insightful and sometimes touching introductions of this year’s acting nominees by notable past winners; a terrific musical sequence featuring A.R. Rahman, John Legend and the Soweto Gospel Choir; and a Busby Berkeley-style dance sequence, capped with Jackman’s shout, “The musical is back!” (well, not quite).
Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Said Christian Colson, Slumdog’s producer: “We had passion and we had belief and our film shows that if you have those two things then truly anything is possible.”
Best actor: Sean Penn, Milk.
Penn (joking): “You commie, homo-loving sons of guns. I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me, often” and “Mickey Rourke rises again, and he is my brother.”
Best actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Winslet: “I think we can’t believe that we’re all in the same category at all. I’m sorry Meryl, you’ll have to just suck that up.”
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Foreign Language Film: Departures (Japan)
Original song: A.R. Rahman, “Jai Ho,” Slumdog Millionaire
Rahman talked about how Slumdog is about “optimism and the power ofhope in our lives. All my life I’ve had a choice of hate and love. I chose love, and I’m here. God bless.”
Original score: Slumdog Millionaire
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was presented to Jerry Lewis, who has raised $2 BILLION — I was stunned by this number — for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. No surprises, just a brief thanks. I’m thinking that Lewis probably deserved a more extensive tribute, at least via a longer series of clips from his films and a more expansive explanation of his impact on film comedy than that offered by Eddie Murphy.
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 Wire
Supporting actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Ledger’s father, mother and sister accepted on his behalf. Sister: “We proudly accept this award on behalf of your beautiful Matilda (his daughter)”
Live Action Short: Toyland
Director of Toyland: “I spent four years of my life making this 14-minute movie.”
Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Ben Stiller offered a hilarious impression of Joaquin Phoenix, circa his recent, bizarre visit with David Letterman – i.e., Stiller, wearing an out-of-control beard, and chewing gum, was entirely distracted. Stiller: “I just want to retire from being a funny guy.” He aimlessly wandered around while Natalie Portman talked about cinematography.
Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Costume Design: The Duchess
Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Animated Short Film: La Maison en Petits Cubes
Director Kunio Kato ended his speech with “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto” (from the Styx song)
Animated Feature: Wall-E
Wall-E director Andrew Stanton thanked his high-school drama teacher for casting him in “Hello, Dolly”
Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Simon Beaufoy said that the cast and crew taught him so much about India and “changed my life.”
Original Screenplay: Milk
Funny “instructional” sequence about screenwriting, with Steve Martin and Tina Fey. And terrific quick illustration of how screenplay translates to a movie.
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Cruz spoke about the long road from her lowly origins to the Oscars, and said: “Art in any form is and has been and always will be our universal language and we should do everything we can to protect its survival.”