TV Review – 81st Oscar Awards

Sunday February 22nd on ABC aired the 81st annual Oscars – the awards for the very best in the film industry. The show’s producers promised a new take on the old ceremony and they delivered in what was, in my opinion, one of the finest Oscars in years. Some of the highlights – Hugh Jackman, past winners honoring new winners, and quality films winning the awards they deserve.

The night started with one of the greatest opening performances I can remember. Hugh Jackman as the host brought life, energy and a genuine sense of “I’m honored to be doing this” to the stage. He made a few jokes but then began to do one of the things he does best – musical theater. His routine incorporated a “slimmed down” set due to the recession complete with cardboard recreations of some of the evening’s movies. His song summed up a few of the nominated films but also brought up questions such as “why wasn’t "The Dark Knight" nominated for Best Film? Everyone saw the movie, so why wasn’t it receiving more nominations?”

Another new tactic of the awards was to have previous winners of the major acting awards honor the current nominees. The 4 times this occurred during the night it was elegant and emotional. It was obvious that the kind words spoken by previous winners were genuine and that the nominees were touched by their compliments and praises.

The Oscar’s momentum carried through the hours complete with a Bollywood routine. The singers and dancers performed to the 3 songs nominated for Best Original Song – two from the night’s biggest winner “Slumdog Millionaire.” However, momentum slowed when it came time to honor those who have passed away. Queen Latifah sang beautifully as the traditional montage of photographs of our dearly departed showed on the screen. What broke the momentum was that the cameras had to pan between the screen and Latifah instead of what they usually do which is play the montage as the video feed with no cameras involved. This made it difficult to read the names and their jobs which is a personal favorite "things to do” for me.

One endearing moment came when the award for Best Supporting Actor was announced. As most speculated, Heath Ledger won (the most deserving I must say, not because of his sad passing but because his version of the Joker is an amazing character and surely would have sky rocked Ledger’s career). The endearing part occurred when his parents and sister accepted the award on his behalf and on behalf of his daughter. It wasn’t a stuffy old actor who accepted the award it was the people who knew him best and miss him the most. It was very moving and a great testament to how Ledger was revered within the movie biz and within society and his family.

The funniest moment was Sean Penn’s acceptance speech for Best Actor for his portrayal in "Milk." Quote, “You Commie, homo-loving sons of guns.” What I loved most was the actor’s admission to being difficult is all senses of the word. He confessed, “that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me often.” Could this be a revelation that maybe the actor needs to calm his outspoken, controversial ways? Naaaaaah, I think it’s just him, making it clear, that he’s aware he’s controversial.

In the end, the right people and movies received the right awards (although I think "The Dark Knight" should have been a contender for Best Picture because it truly was an amazing movie). Hugh Jackman won us over with his charm and musical theater capabilities. There were more people on the Best Dressed list than the other one this year and one of America’s most expensive and money hungry businesses accepted the fact that the world is changing and that money may not make the theater-goer’s world go ‘round – Slumdogs make theater-goer’s worlds go ‘round. Congratulations to all the night’s winners and to the movie industry.

“Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night - be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra
So may the prayers, tranquilizers and JD be with you and see you next time.

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