Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review: 81st Academy Awards

The 81st Academy Awards had its ups and downs, unfortunately though in my opinions, more downs than ups. To start, Hugh Jackman hosted this year, an interesting choice and I gave him a chance. The intro song and dance was actually pretty funny and interesting with them building low cost props out of cardboard “due to these hard economic times”. The bits about The Reader and The Wrestler were pretty funny but the best part was when Hugh dragged Ann Hathaway up on stage to play the part of Nixon as Hugh played Frost, very funny, and of course the end where he proclaimed “this is the Oscars and I’m Wolverine!”. Though the second musical number, with Beyonce and the cast of High School Musical was not nearly as entertaining and actually just downright bad. Some of my favorite moments from the Oscars this year would be Ben Stiller’s spot on imitation of Joaquin Phoenix, chewing gum and wondering the stage aimlessly. Jack Black’s “secret” for making money in animation, “do one Dreamworks picture a year, then take all the money you made from that movie to the Oscars and bet on Pixar”. Though the best part by far was the skit with Seth Rogen and James Franco reprising their roles from Pineapple Express (I still don’t know how this movie wasn’t nominated for anything, specifically James Franco) as they watched “bootlegged” DVDs of this year’s nominees. Watching them crack up while watching Doubt and The Reader was great, or mistaking Love Guru for Slumdog Millionaire (it is better) but the best part had to be when they were watching Milk (showing all the clips of Franco making out with Sean Penn) and Franco puts his arm around Rogen, hilarious, then of course they brought out Janusz Kaminski, great stuff. Back to Hugh Jackman, while I don’t think he was a bad host I would personally like to see the return of Jon Stewart, he did a fantastic job hosting and it’s not his fault viewership was down last year, after the writer’s strike he had 13 days to prepare for it and most people were not interested in watching because of the lackluster Emmy awards that year.

Now to talk about the categories and who won and who got snubbed.
Original Screenplay: Winner – Milk. A deserved win and a beautiful acceptance speech, but I can’t help but think this was a political win due to the attempt to overturn Prop 8 soon, I still feel that In Bruges should have won this award, amazing writing.

Adapted Screenplay: Winner – Slumdog Millionaire. I found nothing impressive about the writing of this movie, very forgettable, Doubt or Benjamin Button should have won this category.

Achievement in Visual Effects: Winner – The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. A close call but well deserved win.

Achievement in Sound Mixing: Winner – Slumdog Millionaire. WHAT? How did Slumdog Millionaire beat out Dark Knight, Wall-E, Wanted and The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button for sound mixing? This is just an insult!

Achievement in Sound Editing: Winner – The Dark Knight. Finally some justice as Dark Knight beats out Slumdog in a well deserved win.

Best Live Action Short: Winner - Spielzeugland (Toyland). No problems with this.

Best Animated Short: Winner - La Maison en Petits Cubes. Never saw it but I really liked Presto.

Best Original Song: Winner – Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire. I still can’t believe they didn’t nominate Bruce Springsteen’s song “The Wrestler” for The Wrestler, that’s an insult and that song should have won.

Best Original Score: Winner – Slumdog Millionaire. I’m noticing a pattern at this point. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Wall-E had beautiful scores and one of them should have won.

Achievement in Makeup: Winner – The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. Another close call amongst the nominees but still a well deserved win.

Best Foreign Language Film: Winner – Departures. Great acceptance speech.

Achievement in Film Editing: Winner – Slumdog Millionaire. Again, how did this movie win this? The other four nominees had beautiful editing, Slumdog was frantic and annoying at at times. Dark Knight or Benjamin Button should have taken this award home.

Best Documentary Short: Winner – Smile Pinki. Didn’t see any of these.

Best Documentary: Winner – Man On Wire. Great movie, very inspirational. Best part though was having Bill Maher, who’s documentary should have been nominated but whatever, give out the award.

Best Director: Winner – Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire. I like Danny Boyle but think he should stick to movies like 28 Days Later or especially Sunshine, that was an amazing movie. This should have gone to Ron Howard or Gus Van Sant.

Best Costume Design: Winner – The Duchess. Never saw the movie but the costumes did look pretty good from what I saw.

Achievement in Cinematography: Winner – Slumdog Millionaire. I give up, this is ridiculous. Should have gone to Benjamin Button or Dark Knight.

Achievement in Art Direction: Winner – The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. Well deserved win, that movie was beautiful.

Best Animated Feature: Winner – Wall-E. All these movies were great but Wall-E takes the cake. For a movie that had barely any dialogue, the body language was amazing and kept me excited throughout.

Performance by and Actress in a Supporting Role: Winner – Penelope Cruz. This was one of the biggest snubs of the night, I don’t know what it is about Penelope Cruz but I just don’t find her to be that good of an actress. Viola Davis did an amazing job, but she was only in the movie for 5 to 10 minutes so I feel that Taraji P. Henson should have won this, her performance was perfect and amazing and emotional.

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Winner – Heath Ledger. An absolutely deserved win and it was really nice to see someone besides Christopher Nolan accept the award. His family gave a very emotional and honest speech, one of the best of the night.

Performance by and Actress in a Leading Role: Winner – Kate Winslet. I like Kate Winslet but I just don’t think she’s a “Great” actress. I feel that Meryl Streep should have won for her fantastic performance in Doubt.

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Winner – Sean Penn. Great performance and amazing speech but again I can’t help to feel this win was political. Mickey Rourke’s performance in The Wrestler was ground breaking and simply astonishing. Plus, this is probably the closest Rourke will ever be to winning an Oscar, while Penn will probably be nominated again in the years to come. It would have been nice to see Penn give his award to Rourke.

Best Picture: Winner – Slumdog Millionaire. Again, I just don’t get it, this movie was so very forgettable and the performances were terrible (thank you academy for at least realizing this), the story was laughable and it just didn’t move me at all. Every year I look at the nominees for this category and can at least understand why a movie is nominated, I may not always like the movie, but I at least understand. Great performances, great writing, great story, emotional, beautiful imagery and cinematography, this movie had none of that. I think I’ve finally figured out the reason people love it so much, most Americans like to feel like they care about the world, this movie shows scenes filmed in the slums of Mumbai. I think people thought that if they liked the movie and supported it they were somehow helping the people in those slums. That has to be it because this movie, like I said, was very forgettable. I still feel that The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Milk, Frost/Nixon, Doubt, The Wrestler, The Reader, Gran Torino, The Dark Knight or In Bruges should have won over this movie, all were exceptional movies with great writing, great acting, great stories and everything else that makes a movie stick with you.

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