Monday, February 23, 2009

What a player!

And that, as they say, is that.

Last night's show may have been short on suspense or surprises in most categories, but after what has been one of the most unsatisfying season's in recent memory, Bill Condon and Lawrence Mark sure put on a satisfying show. Kudos, gentlemen! And congratulations to Hugh Jackman, who was a tad underused, but shone brightly when he was on stage. His opening musical number was reminiscent of Billy Crystal's hilarious song parodies of yore, receiving a richly deserved standing ovation from the crowd at the Kodak. His second number, staged by the brilliant Baz Luhrmann, was ripe with old-Hollywood-nostalgia (and just a bit of old-Broadway thrown in for good measure). He turned out to be a terrific choice as host after years of ill-qualified TV comedians.

The highlight of the show? Either of Hugh's numbers could be it, but I would be remiss not to include the cornucopia of sincere and touching acceptance speeches that ruled the night. Of note was the speech of Penelope Cruz who was genuinely emotional after collecting her much-deserved trophy early in the evening, and the politically laced speeches of Milk winners Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn (Penn in particular had some very strong sentiments directed at those who voted to ban gay marriage this year in LA). I think my favourite spontaneuos moment was Philippe Petit doing a magic trick and balancing an Oscar on his chin after Man on Wire won Best documentary!

As for the winners themselves, I have some issues. I'll be the first to sing Slumdog Millionaire's praises, but eight Oscars is a bit much. Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Song, and Score should all have gone to other more deserving nominees, but then again, worse decisions could have been made. The best film of 2008, WALL-E, was handed a single award in the animated ghetto, which will bother me to no end. At least Andrew Stanton has another Oscar to his name.

On a sunnier note, my predictions were better than they've ever been! I went 21 for 24, missing only Documentary Short (as did most people), Sound Mixing (did not see a split coming between two movies in the sound categories), and Actor (Mickey should have won, but you can't deny Penn's performance was nothing short of outstanding). I was particularly happy to have changed my Foreign Language Film guess to Departures at the last minute, capitalizing on the only semi-surprising win of the night.

But it's time to move on. 2009 looms large. For ye few readers who have occasionally glanced my way throughout the course of the year, thank you. I enjoyed my first kick at the Oscar-blogging can immensely, and I look forward to continuing it. Stop by in a week or so when I'll begin my "One Category at a Time" articles for the 2009 season.

TTFN. Jai Ho!

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