Cut to the inside of the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Actors practice their "I'm totally laughing for real and not at all upset" faces as host Ricky Gervais comes out... See full synopsis »
Louis J. Horvitz
This was the last year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated five films for Best Picture. Months after the ceremony, the Board of Governors amended the rules to expand the list to a maximum of ten. The last time AMPAS nominated more than five films was in 1943. See more »
Just before the presentation of "Best Supporting Actress" the curtain that was supposed to open to reveal the presentation screens don't open. You can then hear a stagehand from backstage yell, "We're doing it. Steve open it!" (his voice was probably picked up through Hugh Jackman's lapel mic.) See more »
A different approach to the Oscars. Milk edges out the ram, Kate finally brings home gold, and the rags to riches story wins top prize!
"The 81st Annual Academy Awards" was certainly one of the first Oscars that was done in a different style and direction. Unlike some of the past ones the show was more a performance style than a laugh fest. As evidenced by the host, as in the past when we laughed to the jokes and skits of Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Ellen, or John Stewart well this year the academy went a different route. A performer hosted that being actor Hugh Jackman and he displayed his talent very well mostly in the form of singing and performing well done skits and displays of the nominated films. Jackman not only a talented actor, but a stage performer you can tell his talent rubbed off well as his voice lit up the Oscar stage well. Also the awards categories when presented were handed out by at least five previous winners from the past of that particular category a first that I saw. The most moving and touching moment was the win of the late Heath Ledger as best supporting actor for his wicked performance of the Joker in the "Dark Knight" as his family mother, father, and sister accepting the award brought tears to everyone. And finally long overdue was the win of Kate Winslet for best actress the streak is over as her performance in the "Reader" broke her losing streak. And in the hot contested race of best actor Sean Penn's lifelike performance of gay politician Harvey Milk edged out the comeback kid Mickey Rourke as Mickey's turn in "The Wrestler" had all of us hoping for an underdog win. As in the best picture race as expected Hollywood loves a fairy tale as expected the rags to riches tale "Slumdog Millionaire" took best picture and it scooped up a total of eight wins. Overall one of the more recent better Oscars as with the hosting the show was less funny yet the talent and performance display was moving even though the shows pace ran a little bit over. Yet this 81st edition is most memorable for having one of the best and closest best actor races in years and it shows Hollywood always has a big heart for a rags to riches picture and as Kate proves just keep trying. But most of all history was made with Ledger's win as he became the first posthumous Oscar winner since Peter Finch who won for 1976's "Network". So overall one of the better award shows in recent years. Yet one last question where was Jack Nicholson?
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