The statuettes are ready, so let’s start doling out these Oscars. (Associated Press photo)
7:30 p.m.: Well, I heard Hugh Jackman say on the Barbara Walters Special (Honestly, the things I sometimes endure for the sake of this job!) that he thinks the Oscars could do with more show and less biz, so let’s see how the Aussie triple-threat does in his first time hosting the Academy Awards.
7:31: If nothing else, Hugh looks better in a tux than most of the hosts that have done this gig in the past. And at least he has a self-deprecating sense of humor, joking that maybe he didn’t get nominated for “Australia” because he’s an Aussie playing an Aussie. He says he’ll be in a down-sized version next year called “New Zealand.”
Hugh Jackman (AP photo)
7:33: He’s starting with a big opening number made out of pizza boxes, tin foil and assorted junk, claiming that he had to build it in his garage because of the recession and scaling back of the ceremony. Sure, it’s corny, but Hugh can really sing and I love that he came out and just flat-out said that “The Dark Knight” maybe deserved a best picture nom.
7:36: Now, he’s got Anne Hathaway up there acting out the part of Richard Nixon while he plays David Frost. It’s a little wacky, but I guess it’s better than boring.
7:37: Who came up with this opening number? This is nuts! I can’t decide if I’m bemused entertained or just appalled. But he’s getting a big cheer and a standing O. And he got in his Wolverine pitch, so I guess that’s good.
7:41 Now, he’s out in the crowd chatting up the crowd and sitting in Frank Langella’s lap. I liked the crack Hugh just made about being contractually obligated to mention Brad and Angelina at least five times during the show, and it was pretty funny when he said Meryl Streep’s numbers are so big he thinks steroids may be involved. So far, it’s been fairly entertaining and not a bit bizarre. But it’s a bit worrisome that we’re 11 minutes in and nothing’s happened as far as statuettes being handed out. It’s an awards show, right?
7:42: Cover your eyes, it’s the first of the dreaded Oscar montages!!
7:43: Well, this is different. Tilda Swinton, Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn, Whoopi Goldberg and Angelica Huston, all supporting actress Oscar winners, are onstage to present the award to one of this year’s deserving nominees. It’s a nice tribute to not only the past winners but the remarkable nominees, but we’re getting pretty time-consuming again. At this rate, we’ll still be handing out statuettes at midnight.
I think this is the toughest race to call tonight, and here are the noms:
7:47: They’re still talking about the nominees. I’ll tell you the winner if they ever name her.
7:47 and 50 seconds: Tilda Swinton opens the envelope and the winner: Penelope Cruz.
Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
7:48: Penelope starts out by saying her speech won’t be 45 seconds. Has anything at this show? She jokes about fainting and then proceeds to share the prize with her fellow nominees, Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein. Undoubtedly, Harvey’s campaigning was a big help. Now, she’s talking about watching the Oscars when she was a little girl and thinking that it is a moment that unites the world because art unites people around the globe. Nice sentiment, but that was as long as initially advertised.
7:50: We’re 20 minutes in, folks, and we’ve given out one Oscar. Be afraid.
7:52: Steve Martin and Tina Fey are out to present the original screenwriting prize, and the approach is a bit different, with their dialogue being typed onto a huge screen with them narrating. This is a pairing of comedy masterminds (“Pink Panther 2″ notwithstanding), and they’re making the most of the moment. And at least the moment isn’t as ridiculously long as the others have been.
Here are the nominees for best original screenplay, and they are continuing the typing-and-narration style. I’m rooting for “Frozen River” here, let’s see who wins:
- “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
- “Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
- “In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
- “Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
- “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter
7:57: Winner: Dustin Lance Black for “Milk.”
He’s thanking Cleve Jones, Anne Cronenberg and all the real people who shared their stories, and rattling off the filmmakers who contributed to the picture. Black, who is gay, thanking his parents for always loving him for who he is even when there was pressure not to, and calls Milk’s story a “life-saving story” that gave him hope when he was a kid.
7:59: Oh, good, more Steve and Tina. He’s warning Tina not to fall in love with him as they go back to the typing/narration bit, which is actually a pretty inventive way to introduce the best adapted screenplay noms:
8:01: Go “Slumdog”! The winner is Simon Beaufoy for “Slumdog Millionaire,” and I hope that’s the first of many prizes for my favorite movie of 2008.
He says there are many places in the universe you never imagine standing, and this stage is right up there with the South Pole in those places he never imagined being. He starts off by giving author Vikas Swarup, who wrote the book “Q&A,” much-deserved recognition and then thanks his wife, parents, star Dev Patel and “the other two musketeers” Danny Boyle and Christian Coulson. Bet you see them later.
8:03: Now, here’s an odd couple, Jack Black and Jennifer Aniston. Jack just cracked me up with his “animation career plan”: make a DreamWorks animated movie every year and then go to the Oscars and bet on Pixar to win! Hilarious! Gotta love him.
Anyway, they’re going to give out the award for best animated film, and Jack’s “Kung Fu Panda” is a great movie, but it’s going to lose to Pixar’s “WALL-E.” That’s just the way it is.
But before he get the noms and winner named, we’ve got to do an irritating montage of all the year’s animated films. Do “Space Chimps” and “Horton Hears a Who” really need equal time at the Oscars? Is that really needed?
8:06: Anyway, here are the noms, finally:
8:07: Winner: “WALL-E” and I love Jack’s big cheer for it. What a good sport. Andrew Stanton is rattling off thanks, including expressing his gratitude to his high school drama teacher for casting him as Barnaby in “Hello Dolly.” “Creative seeds are sown in the strangest places.” So true.
8:08: Jenn and Jack are now going to present the best animated short award, which Jack claims is harder to win because “you have less time for your panda to win America’s heart.” Funny. Here are the noms, will Pixar win again?
“La Maison en Petits Cubes”
8:10: Nope. The winner is “La Maison en Petits Cubes,” that gorgeous, painterly animated and touching tale of an old man who continues to build onto his flooding house. Kato, who is Japanese, is clearly struggling with his English, so after muddling through his thanks, he just quotes Styx’s “Mr. Roboto.” Best use of that song ever. Why is it the animation guys and screenwriters do better acceptance speeches than the highly paid actors?
8:15: According to Hugh, the show tonight is roughly following the process of making a film. So, here come the technical awards, so maybe “The Dark Knight” will actually get some due credit. That’s the Oscar way, no matter how great a film, if it’s got action, superheroes or comedy, it goes straight to second tier.
Anyway, Sarah Jessica Parker and Daniel Craig are introducing the art direction nominees:
8:18: Winner: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” That film was a major technical achievement, as it goes through so many places and time periods, and of course, Brad Pitt ages backward. It may be that “The Dark Knight” gets shut out even in the technical categories. Love the comment from Burt and Zolfo that their producers did the best thing they could, leave them alone. It seemed to work.
Could it be that the late Heath Ledger emerges the year’s biggest film’s only award winner? We shall see.
8:20: Now, Daniel and Sarah Jessica are introducing the costume design nominees. Seems appropriate for the well-dressed pair.
8:21: Winner: “The Duchess.” I haven’t seen the film but just the still shots of that film are amazing. You can see the opulent texture and design of those royal costumes even in a photo. Well deserved, though I enjoyed Hugh’s shirtless cowboy costume in “Australia” myself.
8:23: Sarah Jessica: “We don’t have to tell you what the makeup artist does.” Daniel: “Just look at us.” I do enjoy his dry British wit.
Here are the makeup noms:
8:24: Winner: “Benjamin Button.” Duh. Cannom made Brad Pitt age backward and Taraji P. Henson, Cate Blanchett and the rest age forward. Well deserved. Cannom is just reading at rapid pace all his thank-yous, but it’s still a bit too long.
8:26: Hold on to your teenage daughters: “Twilight”‘s Robert Pattinson is onstage with “Mamma Mia!” Amanda Seyfried. They’re chatting about “Wings,” the first Oscar-winning film and how romance has worked in film. “I had to become a vampire to find the right girl,” he says. “I had three fathers,” she counters.
Cute, but they’re doing the unthinkable: Introducing yet another montage, this of romantic moments from films this year, which range from “Sex & the City” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” to “Slumdog” and “WALL-E.” Again, why are some of these films getting an Oscar moment?
8:30: They’re promising a new short film from Judd Apatow in the show. Someone give George Lang an oxygen mask before he hyperventilates like all the “Twilight” fans.
8:31: Oh. my. stars. Natalie Portman, in a beautiful hot-pink gown, is taking the stage to present with Ben Stiller. Ben’s got everyone trying not to crack up: He’s in full Joaquin Phoenix mode, wearing sunglasses, boasting a bushy beard and chewing gum, which Natalie made him take out. He stuck it to the table and now he says he wants to retire from being a funny guy. Maybe he’ll do cinematography.
Let me wipe away the tears of laughter and post the noms for best cinematography:
(And credit to Ben. He brought a very funny moment to the Oscars, but he put on a very respectful voice to read the noms.)
8:35: And “Slumdog” wins another one! Mantle is praising Ben’s presentation as fantastic. And he says he’s not going to thank thousands of people, but says his policy is to try to thank people onset more often. He’s thanking him family now and telling his kids watching at home to get to bed. Solid speech, and I love it that “Slumdog” is getting lots of love. But “The Dark Knight” may have to take solace in its billions in box-office and DVD profits, because so far, it’s getting no praise.
8:39: Jessica Biel, dressed in a gorgeously draped off-white dress, is talking about her recent gig hosting the Scientific and Technical Awards. Bet the nerds loved that. She’s praising the winners as well as people like Thomas Edison and Jerry Lewis for their scientific advancements that have contributed to cinema. We should be seeing more of Jerry Lewis tonight, since he’s set to get the humanitarian award. That should be interesting.
8:42: We’ve got James Franco and Seth Rogen in full “Pineapple Express” mode doing a montage of comedy moments from ’08, which includes “Tropic Thunder,” “Step Brothers,” “Doubt” and “The Reader.” They’re creating their own little “Mamma Mia!” singalong, James is stapling a dollar to Seth as they watch “The Wrestler,” and they share an awkward moment watching some of Franco’s scenes from “Milk.” Pretty funny, but again, I have to take a principled stand against the unneeded montage, even if Judd Apatow clearly gave this one his magic comedy touch.
8:45: James, Seth and two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, who joined them at the end of their goofy little bit, are going to present the best live-action short award. Here are the noms:
- “Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
- “Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
- “New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
- “The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
- “Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank
8:47: Winner: “Spielzeugland.” Great, very memorable film selected from a terrific field. Freydank said he grew up on the other side of the wall in East Germany and when he was a kid, West Germany seemed far away, so Hollywood seemed impossible. I love how sincerely thrilled some of the winners in these less-appreciated categories come across. And at least he came out and acknowledged that he hopes the bald gold statuette will help his career. Honesty in Hollywood. Get right out of town.
8:52: Hugh’s bragging because the musical’s back: “Mamma Mia!” sold more tickets than “Titanic” this year in the U.K. Of course, this provides him the perfect opening: He’s got on his tails and top hat for another song-and-dance number; naturally, it’s a medley of favorite musical moments. But for the guys, Beyonce’s making a dramatic entrance. She’s wearing a top hat, long red gloves, red heels and a sparkly fringed leotard. That’s a whole lot of words to describe an outfit that doesn’t amount to much. My husband’s not complaining.
8:57: So, besides Beyonce and Hugh got to sing and dance, along with “Mamma Mia!”‘s Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper and “HSM3″‘s Zac and Vanessa, to a big glitzy musical number designed by Baz Luhrmann. Yippee. Like this show needed to longer. I don’t mind musicals, but I’m still wondering why some of these movies are getting any of Oscar’s time tonight. Did the show need to be lengthier than the already scheduled four hours (counting red carpet)?
9:02: Grab the Kleenex because I see a montage of supporting actor winners. Here are Kevin Kline, Alan Arkin, Joel Grey, Christopher Walken and Cuba Gooding Jr. to introduce the nominees. Of course, the winner seems certain to be the late Heath Ledger, hence the need for Kleenex.
Here are the noms:
9:05: Again, this is a nice tribute to the past winners and current noms. I particularly like Cuba talking about Downey’s movie-inside-a-movie role in blackface in “Tropic Thunder.” And Kevin’s articulate praise for Ledger’s incredible turn as the Joker, with the cutaway to Ledger’s family, is great. But it’s taking a looonnnggg time.
Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
9:08: Winner: Heath Ledger. I don’t even think Alan had to open to the envelope to know it.
His father, Kim Ledger, his mother, Sally Bell, and his sister Kate Ledger are coming up to accept the award on the late actor’s behalf.
His father calls it “ever-so-humbling” and he’s reading off the list of thank yous in a calm, dignified voice. But just the moment is enough to get some stars to well up.
His mom says that tonight they’re choosing to celebrate what Heath has achieved. She calls him an inspiration.
His sister says she and her brother had talked about what he had accomplished as the Joker and even talked about possibly of taking that performance to the Oscars. She says she wishes he were here to accept the award, but they humbly accept on behalf of “your Matilda.” His toddler daughter will be the one who is entrusted with the statuette, once she turns 18.
His family really did that with dignity and with more aplomb than I could have pulled off. He deserved the Oscar, and kudos to the voters for giving it to him.
9:13: Each of the filmmakers behind the five best documentary nominees are being shown in taped interviews. TV host Bill Maher is taking the stage to give that award. “Everyone’s crying and now I have to go on,” he jokes. He’s also pointing out that his anti-religion documentary didn’t get nominated and briefly going off on how fake gods have done the world too much damage. Hey, again, why are we giving people whose films aren’t nominated so much face time?
Here are the actual noms. You know, Bill, the ones who made good docs:
“Man on Wire”
9:16: The winner: “Man on Wire.” Amazing film. It was one of the best movies of the year and just shy of making my top 10 list. Marsh and Chinn are saying that Philippe Petit, the French wire walker the doc’s about, has 10 seconds to get up there. He races to the front and promises to give a one-word speech: “Yes!” He then breaks his own word, thanks a few people, makes a coin disappear and balances the Oscar on his chin. Well, that was a memorable Oscar moment. Gotta love it.
9:17: Bill is now giving the award for best documentary short film. Here are the noms:
9:18: Winner: “Smile Pinki.” Mylan is wearinng a gorgeous, flowing red column and bubbling over with some of that genuine enthusiasm that makes these lesser-known awards so much fun to see given. I hope they always keep these awards in the show, and decide to maybe cut out a montage or two. Or 10.
9:23: We’re moving on to post-production on our little Oscars journey. Has anyone but me noticed how many of these statuettes we still have left to give out? We’ve still got more than an hour to go on the show, but I’m wondering if we’ll make it.
If we keep doing all these montages, we sure won’t! Now, here’s one of all the action sequences from every movie that came out this year, from the latest “Rambo” sequel to “Hancock” to “The Dark Knight.” C’mon. Have mercy, Academy. Mercy!
9:25: Will Smith is onstage, and that’s a good thing. He’s talking about how action movies sometimes get short shrift in awards season but they get all the fans and money. Still no excuse.
Anyway, here are the noms for best visual effects:
- “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
- “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
- “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan
9:27: Winner: “Benjamin Button.” Naturally, after an intro like that, it goes to the one movie on the list that isn’t an action flick. Isn’t that just the way? Barba is giving Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall (nice guy) praise for having faith in them to pull off the great effects, along with the standard praise for fellow “Benjamin Button” noms Brad Pitt and director David Fincher.
9:29: Will can’t get the words out, but he’s giving the award for best sound editing. Here are the noms:
“The Dark Knight”
9:30: Winner: “The Dark Knight.” Hey, at least that’s two.
9:31: Will is now naming the nominees in best sound mixing, claiming they’re heroes, and not just to their mamas. Here are the noms:
9:32: Winner: “Slumdog.” And Danny Boyle still looks like he can’t believe it, and Pookutty looks like he isn’t sure what planet he’s on. He’s nearly choked up as he thanks everyone involved and dedicates the award to his country. Since India has only won two Oscars in the history of the Academy Awards, this is a big night for him and that country.
9:34: “Yes, they still have me here. I think Hugh is off napping,” Will quips. Now, he’s going to recognize the best film editor. Here are the hopefuls:
9:35: Winner: “Slumdog” is on a roll. Look out Oscars, tonight has a distinctive Bollywood tone. And Dev Patel is fist-pumping as Chris Dickens takes the stage and talks about how much fun he had working on the film, particularly in India. All the people in the “Slumdog” camp look like they all just became millionaires.
9:41: Oscar nominee Eddie Murphy, who played ”The Nutty Professor” in the remake, is introducing Jerry Lewis, the recipient of this year’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, who Murphy calls an influence on his career and most every other working comic. Naturally, this leads to a montage, which at least is funny, and then moves into a serious montage about the comedic actor’s work with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and “Jerry’s kids.” It’s hard to believe that Lewis hasn’t been honored with this award sooner. Jerry’s getting a standing O from the rest of Hollywood.
9:45: Here comes Jerry’s speech, and the guy is unpredictable. Let’s see what happens. He says the award “touches my heart and the very depth of my soul because of where it comes from and who it benefits.” He says its a joy to be part of the movie business and talks about how humbled he feels, saying he never really expected to receive commendation for the good he did. Then he ends with a “thank you and good night.” Very short. Very classy. Can he give lessons to everyone else there on great, gracious speechmaking?
9:51: Hugh’s quoting Audrey Hepburn about the importance of movies to music (from a letter she wrote to Henry Mancini about his score for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) and introducing the Academy orchestra to play bits from this year’s Oscar nominees for best score. Am I rooting for “Slumdog”? Bet on it. Though I love the score to “WALL-E,” too, since so much wonder is evoked in it.
9:53: Zac Efron and Alicia Keys – now there’s a combo you don’t see every day – are coming out to present the best original score award. And I nominate Alicia for best dress for her flowing purple marvel.
A.R. Rahman (AP photo)
9:54: Winner: “Slumdog.” Rahman says as he was coming down, the last time he felt so terrified was at his marriage. He’s also thanking his mom before going into the usual list of thank yous. He’s ending with “God is great. Thank you.” That’s two short, gracious speeches in a row. We’re working on an Oscar record, I’d wager.
9:56: Now, we’re getting the snippets of the best original song nominees, which include two from “Slumdog” and one from “WALL-E.” Rahman’s back on the stage along with a gaggle of pink-clad lady dancers and white-clad male drummers to do “O…Saya,” which just isn’t the same without M.I.A. (Considering she looked like she was about to pop earlier this month at the Grammys, the mommy-to-be rapper is probably better off taking it easy than taking the stage.)
And “Down to Earth” just isn’t the same with Peter Gabriel, who refused to perform a one-minute version of his Oscar-nominated song. But John Legend and the Soweto Gospel Choir from South Africa who performed did a great job on it.
Now, we’ve got more dancers and Rahman and Legend performing a strange blend of “Down to Earth” and “Jai Ho.” It’s bizarre and not particularly pleasing to the ear.
In all, I think the medley didn’t really work. They should have gone with three separate performances and cut out, I don’t know, maybe some montages and the random musical shout-out. What, is Hugh the only person on the planet that can’t dance to “Jai Ho”?
Here are the noms, again:
10:02: Winner: It’s victory for “Jai Ho.” Rahman is again praising “Danny boy” for his magnificent film.
10:07: Liam Neeson and the lovely Freida Pinto, who is wearing a sparkling dark blue dress, are there to present the best foreign film Oscar. I protest in advance since some of the year’s best foreign films like “Let the Right One In” and “Tell No One” aren’t even nominated. Academy, fix this category.
Here are the noms:
10:08: The winner: “Departures.” This is an upset: “Waltz with Bashir” had all the hype going in. But the Japanese filmmakers are elated and hope to be back.
10:11: Queen Latifah, resplendent in a blue gown with black trim, sings “I’ll Be Seeing You in All the Old Familiar Places” to go along with the old “in memoriam” montage (AKA “bring out yer dead”). She makes it a point to tell you, the fan, that these people were just images to you, but they were friends and colleagues to the people there. Granted, but Queenie, we were the ones that signed their paychecks by buying the tickets to all those movies.
But I digress. It always amazes how me many big names we lose each year. Some we lost this year: Bernie Mac, Roy Scheider, Michael Crichton, Ricardo Montalban, James Whitmore, Charlton Heston, Stan Winston, Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Paul Newman. Naturally, the man with the piercing blue eyes was the finale.
10:18: Special thank to Sid Ganis, who is stepping down as president of the Academy but opted to just wave instead of making a speech. Thank you very much!
10:19: Reese Witherspoon, who is wearing a dress quite similar to Queen Latifah’s only, of course, much smaller, is going to present the best director award. She says the director is the CEO on a film and sometimes can be like a hostage negotiator talking certain actors – “you know who you are, Ben Stiller” – out of their trailers.
Here are the noms. Will it be another “Slumdog” win?
10:21: Yes! Danny Boyle wins for “Slumdog.” And he’s actually jumping up and down for joy! He then explains that his kids are too young to remember, but he promised that if he ever won the Oscar he would receive it in the spirit of Tigger, “so that’s what that was.”
He’s thanking everybody and remembering to thank the guy who choreographed the big dance sequence at the end, who accidentally got left out the credits, which he just found out two weeks ago. “I’m an idiot,” he says.
He’s also thanking the city of Mumbai and praising the Academy for putting on a great show. Probably it’s a better show if your movie is winning everything. I love all the “Slumdog” love, but I think the show could be better. Especially since it’s nearly 10:30 and we’ve still got three Oscars left.
10:25: It’s 10:25 and we’ve got another montage happening. Should be a crime. The montage is of great actresses accepting Oscars, so that means we’re coming up on the best actress presentation.
Here come past winners Sophie Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard and Halle Berry to present the best actress Oscar to another great lady. Nice, the crowd is giving them a standing ovation.
At the risk of repeating myself – hey, why not, the Oscars do it all the time, right? – this is a lovely idea, but it takes awhile. If they’re gonna do it this way, they need to trim other areas of the ceremony.
Here are the hopefuls:
My favorite in this race is Melissa Leo, who looks very pretty and still very real, but I think this is a two-woman race between Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet.
Kate Winslet in “The Reader”
10:32: The winner: Kate Winslet. I didn’t think they’d let her go home empty-handed for a sixth time. She’s not just getting the Oscar, she’s getting a big kiss from hubby Sam Mendes, a standing O and hugs from all the women onstage. “OK, that fainting thing Penelope,” she jokes.
She then tells how she has been making this speech since she was 8 years old – only in front of a mirror and “this would be a shampoo bottle. But it’s not a shampoo bottle now.” She asks her dad to whistle so she can find him, and he does, piercingly, so she can wave to him and shout “I love you.”
She’s more together than she was at the Golden Globes, but the way she’s rattling, she’s clearly overwhelmed and has been saving this up for awhile. She’s dedicating the award to the late Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack and giving a shoutout “to my fellow nominees. I think none of us could believe we were in the same category as Meryl Streep. And I’m sorry Meryl but you’re just gonna have to suck that up.” An interesting tribute from one great actress to another.
10:36: We’ve got another montage, and it looks like it’s time to honor the best actor and some past winners. Here come Sir Ben Kingsley, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, (the bearded) Adrien Brody and Sir Anthony Hopkins. That’s a lot of acting firepower to honor this year’s nominees:
And you gotta love De Niro pondering how Sean Penn got all those jobs as a straight man and joking about Sean’s “gently reasoning” with the paparazzi .
I love the long overdue accolades finally being bestowed on Frank Langella and Richard Jenkins, and I think it’s nice that Brad Pitt is finally getting recognized for his acting skills rather than just his chiseled Roman god features. But I think this is a two-man race between Penn and Mickey Rourke, and I’m really pulling for Rourke. I think he deserves it for the performance and not just for the comeback, and I echo Kingsley’s statement, “We’re better off for having you in the ring.”
Sean Penn in “Milk”
10:43: Winner: Sean Penn for “Milk.” I’m very disappointed. I really was rooting for Rourke, and I don’t even think Penn’s was the best performance in “Milk.” His wife Robin Wright-Penn and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black are welling over with tears, but he’s calling everyone “You commie homo-loving sons of guns.” He’s also noting that he knows “how hard I make it for you to appreciate me.” That’s pretty funny, but since it’s Sean Penn, you knew it was going to get political, so he finishes by campaigning against Prop 8 and praising America for electing “an elegant man as president.” But then he finishes by praising Mickey Rourke saying he “rises again and he’s my brother.” Well, that was kind of him.
10:47: Hollywood heavy-hitter Steven Spielberg is encouraging the crowd to remember that films today are “part of a larger celluloid fabric.” That’s apparently filmmaker talk to not forget past cinematic achievements as we recognize new ones.
We then see clips of this year’s best picture nominees, which are interspersed with past best picture winners, some of which fit in surprisingly well.
Here are the nominees, and I’m still hoping to yell “Jai Ho” at the end of the show:
“Slumdog Millionaire” won big at the Oscars tonight.
10:53: And the Oscar goes to … “Slumdog Millionaire”!!! “Jai Ho”!
Everyone in the huge “Slumdog” camp is standing around in shock, but producer Christian Colson and Danny Boyle are waving them all up onto the stage. Colson: “As you can see, our film was a collaboration of hundreds of people and I’m glad that so many of them could make it here tonight.” He’s noting that the movie had virtually no money but had a story that inspired “mad love” and a genius director. He says that the film shows that if you have passion and belief that you can do anything.
It’s great to see a couple of those kids who actually are from the slums of Mumbai dressed to the nines and being recognized. Hopefully, this will be the start of something wonderfully life-changing for them.
10:55: Hugh finally comes out and says thank you and encourages viewers to stick around to get a glimpse of the films coming out next year, which is a great way to make the credits of this incredibly long awards show less unbearable. I’m looking forward to “Up,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Public Enemies,” and “Amelia” and “The Boat That Rocked” look promising. Hugh has encouraged us to keep making and going to movies, but right now, I’d rather do anything but sit any longer.
11: Thanks for sticking with me during BAM’s Blog second annual live-blog of the Academy Awards, even though the show went 30 minutes over time. I hope I made the show a bit more interesting for you. Now, I have to walk while I still theoretically have knees. Then, I’ll post an Oscars roundup for you.
Look for photo galleries and follow-up on the 81st Annual Academy Awards Monday here on BAM’s Blog.