Carly at the Movies | ‘I want to thank all the little people …’

There were no truly outstanding acceptance speeches at last night’s 81st Annual Academy Awards bash, unless you want to count Sean Penn lightly accusing the voters of being “Commie homo-lovers” for giving him the Best Actor Oscar as Harvey Milk.
The speeches, like the awards themselves, went pretty much to plan with “Slumdog Millionaire” copping 8 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, to lead the pack. Surely no one had the stones to simply state the Really True Truth, as Shirley MacLaine did in 1984 when she grabbed her Best Actress trophy and blurted out, “I deserved this” for her role in “Terms of Endearment.”

No one seemed particularly surprised when Penelope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress, or when Kate Winslet won Best Actress, and certainly not when the Supporting Actor award went to the late Heath Ledger. With the exception of Heath, the winners were all fluttery, of course, but that’s pro forma.

I managed to correctly predict 17 out of the 24 awards and of the major Oscars only missed on the Sean Penn victory. I thought they’d select that other Hollywood bad boy, Mickey Rourke, for his comeback role in “The Wrestler.” It was obviously too downbeat for the Academy voters, who have the approximate average age of Ernest Borgnine.

Sean Penn is a fine actor and sincere in his beliefs, but somehow I’ve never been able to forgive him for “Shanghai Surprise,” the 1986 film (made with his then-wife, Madonna) that has to be one of the worst movies ever made.

As everyone suspected, the Slumdog Express could not be stopped, even though (as always) there were better films released in 2008. “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” was superior, and I’d have given the Best Picture Oscar to “The Visitor,” along with Best Actor for its star Richard Jenkins, and Best Director for writer/director Tom McCarthy (who also directed that great little indy flick “The Station Agent”).

Of the five Best Picture nominees, only “Frost/Nixon” is no longer available for screening locally. “The Reader” is currently at the Downtown Dixie in Staunton, “Milk” and “Slumdog Millionaire” continue to run at The Visulite, and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is still playing in Charlottesville at the Downtown Mall.

“The Wrestler” is coming soon to the Visulite. It’s a stunning piece of work, and we’ll review it here next week.

The ceremony was hosted by Hugh Jackman, who sang and danced and schmoozed like he was auditioning for a room full of directors. Obviously, he was. And while he was certainly adequate, it would have been hard to top previous performances by Billy Crystal or the earlier icon, Bob Hope.

For your scrapbook, here’s an alphabetical list of last night’s winners. And remember, as they constantly reminded us, there are no losers – it’s an honor to just be nominated, blah-blah-blah and I want to thank all the little people…

Actor, Leading: Sean Penn in “Milk”
Actor, Supporting: Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
Actress, Leading: Kate Winslet in “The Reader”
Actress, Supporting: Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Animated Feature: “Wall-E”
Art Direction: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Cinematography: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Costume Design: “The Duchess”
Directing: Danny Boyle for “Slumdog Millionaire”
Documentary Feature: “Man on Wire”
Documentary Short: “Smile Pinki”
Film Editing: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Foreign Language Film: “Departures”
Makeup: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Original Score: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Original Song: “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Short Film, Animated: “La Maison en Petits Cubes”
Short Film, Live Action: “Spielzeugland”
Sound Effects Editing: “The Dark Knight”
Sound Mixing: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Visual Effects: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Screenplay, Adapted: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Screenplay, Original: “Milk”

 

– Column by Carl Larsen



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