The 81st Annual Academy Awards (2009) Poster

(2009 TV Special)

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8/10
Nicely Done
Elswet23 February 2009
Hugh Jackman had a great time as host of this year's Academy awards, and so did we. His joy was infectious. The staging and set up is probably one of the best I've seen in all my years of watching these shows. The pre-show done by Jackman and Anne Hathaway was passable, but the whole production came across as so real and human, it astounded us. This actually was very well done. The set up for the presentations were beautiful, reminiscent, reflective, and sweetly genuine. This moved us tremendously, and it helped us know how deep some of the relationships go inside Hollywood. This was most excellent, and I cannot wait until next year's show. I am already starting to wonder who will host, what movies will make it, and how the stage will be set up. Yeah, I'mma geek.

I have to say that Ben Stiller's parody of Joaquin Phoenix was the funniest moment in the show. I also loved Heath Ledger's family and what they had to say, promising and accepting Heath's posthumous Oscar to "his sweet Mathilda." I loved the new way they set up and presented each Oscar. I loved the new "tribute" portion, Queen Latifah sang "I'll be seeing you" magnificently. I was moved by Jerry Lewis and the Academy's acknowledgment for all his hard work and dedication...coming out there on stage as he did, unaided by cane or friend (they're all gone now), seeing him standing there in sweet sweet reverie while his peers greet him with a "standing O" was so touching ... and so fitting.

I won't bore you with who won what. Everyone else will do that. I just wanted to let you know what you missed, as this was the greatest Oscars show I can remember having seen. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I LOVE the changes they made to the presentation style. WOW!

I give it 8/10 for great presentation and indefatigable style...

the Fiend :.
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10/10
The best Oscars in years!!
colunga1312 June 2009
The 2009 Oscars was incredible!!! I loved it even more since Hugh Jackman was host, who, by the way did it excellently, he performed and sang with Beyonce and it was very entertaining!!It looked like he put a lot of effort into it. And of course he was going to be the host since he is People Magazine's SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!! I loved the performances and the singing I didn't miss a single second of it. It was just so cool. And was good at hosting because it wasn't the first time he hosted an award show. Plus he's funny, charisimatic,charming and THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE!! I hope he starts hosting more often and I will be watching it if he's hosting for the 2010 Oscars! Excellent10/10!And tastefully done
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Changed Eye
tedg3 March 2009
I'm interested in these awards, not because of who wins or why. Sure we all have our favorites, but the more we celebrate when someone we value is recognized, the more we endorse this notion of a competition. A competition in the arts?

No, I'm interested because I study introspection in film, and there is no more obvious and consistent event than this show about shows, this story about storymaking and the people involved. The entrance of the players has become a sort of performance in itself, only the actual awards seem to have escaped as we must suffer through each recipient's list of people they are obligated to mention. Its a puzzling phenomenon why this occurs: the persons judged by the world as the most able to convey stories that matter — and we end up with such dreary speeches, mostly.

But its the show, right? Well, this show really was something unusual. As Jackman said is more "Show" than "Business." I'm sure he was parroting a decision made by the Academy based on their plummeting ratings. Regardless of the reason, the retread was welcome by me.

There were three notable elements, four if you count the pretty wonderful Busby Berkeley inspired production number that Jackman led. Two of them had to do with the stage, the physical stage itself. Since spending time in the Globe and discovering the magic of stage geometry all over again, I appreciated these and am a bit in wonder at the sophistication of the designer, who I understand is Joe Celli.

He designed a massive halo curtain of glittering crystals. I have no idea what something like this costs and what happens to the crystals. It must have been really impressive in the physical space because of the multispectral quality of refracted light. Elsewhere, I've written of the quality of snow and early theater screens. They have this presentation of scintillating colors that appears white but has an inner life, an inner texture. I would have traveled to LA just to experience this, which probably was better without the celebrities.

The other thing they did spatially was to design a stage that repurposes the performance geometry on which the Globe theater was based, the "Globe" of religious performance that Michelangelo created in Saint Peter's Square (where the Pope does his celebrity performance — in fact this is also the origin of the red carpet).

There's a yet to be appreciated pentagonal quasicrystral structure there, something that is tied deeply to notions of presence and being. I'm certain that they did not integrate this design into other elements of the show except as mentioned below. But its a pretty extraordinary statement.

Where they did integrate this five-fold symmetry was in the most extraordinary design change in the actual award presentations. For each of the five nominees for important statues, they presented five previous winners, each of whom "presented" the nominee. They were placed on this floor-stage design in ALMOST a significant way. I think perhaps the designer had them where it mattered. But they were relocated so that the five large screens behind them could be captured better in the focal frame of the three sailing cameras. Something of shame. But the intent is amazingly, wonderfully, intelligently clear.

Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Australians! What else is there?

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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8/10
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!
Danny Blankenship23 February 2009
"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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10/10
Loved It!
MairegChernet23 February 2009
This year's Academy Awards ceremony was way better than last year's. Hugh Jackman did a tremendous job hosting, I thoroughly enjoyed Beyonce's and A R Rahman's performances, and Hugh Jackman's tribute to the movies.

The Pineapple Express short was also hilarious. The atmosphere was just dazzling, the stars were beautiful and the results were, for the most part, as expected, (although I was indeed rooting for Mickey Rourke.) Everything about it was unforgettable.

Kudos to directors producers and to everyone else involved in the making of this amazing awards show!
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8/10
Nice changes making this the best Oscar's ceremony I have seen in a while.
Boba_Fett113825 February 2009
I can't really say I cared much for any of the winners or movies of this (2008) year but the whole show around it made this one of the best Annual Academy Awards ceremonies of the last couple of years.

They definitely made some big changes this year. I liked it's look and the way it brought the audience close to the stage. It was not just like one big room but segmentations were made in the crowd, with the biggest acting nominees sitting in front and the rest of the cast and crew of a particular movie all together in one segment. Even though it was divided, it all still felt more like one, as if everyone in Hollywood forms one big family. It also helped that it didn't feature too many random close-ups of well known actors responses and laughter. Instead it more focused purely on the ceremony alone.

The pacing overall was done incredibly well. The show wasn't dragging at any points and it wasn't ever too long or too short during any of its categories. Even the normally slow point of the ceremony, the special honorary award Oscar, was this year over in just a few minutes. Because of this it was a very pleasant watch and it didn't feel like 3 hours at all. It constantly kept going and it also didn't feature presenter Hugh Jackman constantly after an Oscar had been handed out. Also the persons handing out the Oscar's at some occasions handed them out for more than one categories, which again added to the pace.

The acting categories had gone to the biggest change, with former winners all presenting the awards, by having a small say about the particular actor and the role he/she played. All of the nominees were obviously touched by this but most people at home still prefer to see a small clip of the particular actor within the movie. Perhaps next year we will see a combination of both these ideas?

I think it was a right choice to let a non-comedian host the Oscar's this time. After all, the night shouldn't be just purely featured around the host but the host should be a person who fills in the blanks and tights the night together. Hugh Jackman did this well. He didn't seemed like the most logic person to host the ceremony this year but I think he surprised a lot of people. And just because he's no comedian doesn't mean he didn't had any funny moments and lines of course.

A big problem always was that the acceptance speeches took far too long and the music often suddenly kicked in right in the middle of an acceptance speech, in order to cut the winners off. This year it didn't looked like there was a time limit and this worked out well, for non of the acceptance speeches dragged on. It was also pleasant that there were no politics involved in any of the acceptance speeches, unless you count in the call for more gay right, from the winners that were involved with the movie "Milk".

The evening itself didn't feature too many surprises when it came down to its winners. It can be perhaps said that the presenters this year were more interesting than the winners. "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" were the two big favorites but I don't think it surprised many people that it was eventually "Slumdog Millionaire" who took home the most awards and also the ones in the most important categories, including best picture. I also can't really say I cared much for any of the nominated movies this year, which could only mean that 2008 hadn't been a too spectacular year for movies. With all of the current troubles in the world it also can be said that movies and the whole showbiz world have become less interesting for people. Also the writers strike of last year didn't helped to produce many brilliant and Oscar worthy movies. It could be me but it also seems to me that movies, especially big potential Oscar material, got less advertised and hyped. "Slumdog Millionaire", "Milk", "The Wrestler", "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" were all movies that were just suddenly there and got nominated.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was Sean Penn winning out to Mickey Rourke, who almost seemed certain to take home to award for best acting performance. Of course it's not a shame to loose out to Sean Penn though but it was just that Rourke seemed to have lived his entire life to play this particular role in the movie "The Wrestler". Normally I'm not a too big fan of the person Sean Penn but I must say he surprised me this evening. He seemed very self aware and he was actually looking like he was enjoying the evening. He also had a nice say about gay-rights, which felt honest and sincere from him. Kate Winslet winning and of course Heath Ledger, were all no big surprises and Ledger's win got all of respect from the crowd it deserved. The most toughened persons were brought to tears within the crowd and no doubt also at home, when his family accepted the award on stage.

Of course not all of the changes were for the best tough. Although I like the fact that the show featured more musical numbers and also small film segments, not all of the segments really added up to the ceremony. Paying a tribute to 2008's action movies and comedies? Don't quite see the purpose of it. I like it more when they pay tribute to every movie and actor, from any time, from any genre. Also the life singing during the 'in memoriam' segment seemed out of place. I'm sure the conductor of the evening Michael Giacchino could had provided something better and more suiting for it.

Well done show!

8/10
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9/10
What a night!!! What a year!!! What a show!!!
gerry-russell-13923 February 2009
This, by far, was the very best Oscar show I've ever seen in my entire life!!! Hugh Jackman was the best Oscar host since Johnny Carson and he needs to come back for the next three years at least. It was entirely tasteful that he gave no political statements and that his performance was full of excitement and appreciation for honoring excellence in cinema...

Apart from that, my favorite part of the whole evening involved all the acting categories where five past recipients all came out and presented the latest 'member of the club' into their circle... Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn, Anjeclica Huston, Whoopi Goldberg and Tilda Swinton announced a most deserving Penelope Cruz as best supporting actress for her wild, dynamic portrayal in 'Vicky Christina Barcelona'; Joel Grey, Christopher Walken, Kevin Kline, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Alan Arkin awarded the late Heath Ledger's best supporting actor Oscar for 'The Dark Knight' to his grateful and honored father, mother and sister; Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman and Marillon Cotillard made a very emotional moment completely unforgettable when they proudly welcomed Kate Winslet into the Best Actress category for her emotionally gripping performance in 'The Reader'; and Robert DeNiro, Sir Ben Kingsley, Michael Douglas, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Adrien Brody announced Sean Penn as best actor for his dead-on portrayal of San Francisco politician Harvey Milk in the Gus Van Sant-directed biopic 'Milk'... and 'Wall-E', the darling of all the animated films from 2008, was named the best animated feature to little surprise. And then of course, there was the feel-good film of the year, 'Slumdog Millionaire' winning 8 out of the 10 nominations it received, including Best Song, Score, Adapted Screenplay, Director and Best Picture.

It was a magical, thoroughly pleasing night for the Oscars this year and I'm hoping five past recipients will be back next year to present each acting category and definitely Hugh Jackman will be greatly welcomed back as emcee.
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The Oscar Is Not The Golden Globe !
ahmed elshikh24 February 2009
OK, I don't believe in the Oscar as the final stand or the most important cinematic award in the world. It's another award for movies (Basically American ones) that was fair and unfair along the years. But sure when it comes to the "show" value it's not like any other one. Through so many years, especially the 1980s and the 1990s, the night of the Annual Academy Awards used to be big, dazzling, esteeming the spirit of cinema passionately. There were performances and short clips that assured that highly. However, in the last couple of years, the things have never become the same.

Here, I didn't feel the word "ceremony" blazingly. (Hugh Jackman) is a decent host, who can dance well too, but let's face it he isn't a comedian with witty lines (the word is too decent); undoubtedly the other presenters said a whole lot of funnier stuff than him (I had to be a vampire to be loved, I had 3 fathers !). Yet, thank god that (Chris Rock) wasn't close this time !

Just 2 moments got my attention, being both the highest of what this night presented. One is when (Queen Latifah) sang (I'll be seeing you) so perfect as a tribute for all the artists who died in 2007; aside from its way of making remembering the late ones a something to remember, it was frankly the best performance for this song yet. And the other moment is when the one and only (Beyoncé Knowles) performed, in cabaret's red outfit, an outrageous number; that one directed by (Baz Luhrmann) was up to the moment indeed. But, sorry Hugh, I don't think with movies like (High School Musical 3 Senior Year) or (Mamma Mia!) that the musicals "Are Back". Maybe the flimsy musicals !.

The clips to honoring (Jerry Lewis), or for the main nominated films' themes were pathetic. The stage was poor, this is by all means not what the Oscars used to be. The academy stage in nights like this was always huge and solemn as the moment of winning itself. This time, the sets made it look like the Golden Globe's stage, smaller and not that stately. Even the camera's cadres were limited !

And when (Will Smith) had to hand in something like 4 awards in one row, it gets silly and boring already, particularly with idiot hasty material was written for him. There is something totally missing in the writing for the Oscars this time, and just compare what you've been hearing here ("The editors effort" bit for instance) to any previous night to understand that clearly.

Speaking about boring things, I hated the most this piece of music that has been played whenever they have to cut to commercials, OH MY GOD, it was too ominous and so out of the mood, not to mention sickly repetitive. To tell you the truth, the whole music this time was away from being as rich as it always was. I found that playing (Lawrence of Arabia)'s main theme in specific more than once during the night was strange, ignoring many other themes as nostalgic as it.

The new tradition of some ex-winners actors talk about their fellows whom got nominated is catchy and full of eminent deference. It seemed like (The Oscars) meets (Inside the Actors Studio) in a good way. But I think this year also the party allowed the winner to give a speech as long as it could go. That can be wearisome.

All in all, it wasn't that enjoyable night. I didn't feel Grand inasmuch as Poor. Here goes the only reason I watch the Oscars for !
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10/10
Will, Hugh, Queen Latifah & "Jai Ho" THANK U!!
BronzeKeilani2626 February 2009
I agree that this was the BEST & most memorable show in years! I stopped watching the boring awards years back but while waiting for a movie to come on I scanned the channels stopping at the awards out of curiosity when I seen Will Smith. Will made the most boring aspects of filming so interesting that I never made it back to watch my movie, lol! Hugh Jackman was also a joy to watch & so was Queen Latifah being it's been sometime since she's sung on stage. I loved the song they chose for her & the clips they put together were amazing. She was the right choice. Also, I liked the seating which made it easier to see my favorite top stars & brought them closer together which made it easier for the camera to go back & forth. It's more interesting when the camera doesn't stay focused on whoever is talking & allow us to catch long and short glances at the stars (stars, not actors being there are so many now, most I don't even know). Out of all the amazing highlights from the 2009 awards, my favs were the presence of the adorable Slumdog kids, the music score Jai Ho, and the 5 person presentation which was the best new idea in a long time! Our favorite talented stars appreciating more of "Hollywood's best" filled w/ surprise, gratitude, and tears made it one of the few unique highlights of the awards. Go Streep, Angie, Brad, and Penn *hands clapping*! But where was Di Caprio? And was up with Sophia Loren & that hair? My gawd, I felt so embarrass for Meryl Streep. 2008 was a special year for the world, leaving every powerful country's future unpredictable. Yet, Hollywood in all its glory, and one very unselfish man named Danny Boyle, along w/ the media, turned the spotlight on forgotten children from one of the most darker, oppressed corners of the world. Never again will Disneyland, a 5 star hotel and restaurant, education or a clean bed(things we take advantaged of), seem a universe of impossible away. Not only were their lives changed but it also replaced hopelessness with hope in the lives of millions while truly encouraging others to embrace and cherish disadvantaged children. It's also part of being a decent human being. That child in return learns to share the miracle & our goodness begins to spread like an infectious disease. Every cycle of goodness kills off a wave of wickedness, and we are slowly but surely beginning to lack this in society. Like they say in Africa, it takes a village to raise a child. Well the village is our world & if we all instill hope & good in nurturing all children instead of just our own, our own lives will be a contribution to making this world predictable, secure & a better place for generations to come. There's 2 types of ppl, those who stand by and allow bad things to happen, and those who step up & make the right things happen. Thank you to Danny Boyle & those who humbly stand correct for all the right things!
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10/10
Best Oscar Ceremony in Years!!
Michael DeZubiria23 February 2009
I'm really impressed with this year's Oscars ceremony. I scored a whopping 2.5 GPA in Hollywire's own Oscars contest, but even though my predictions were generally not exactly on the mark, I still found the ceremony to be more interesting and well-planned than previous years. Hugh Jackman took on hosting duties for the first time, but it was the overall outline of the entire show that makes it stand apart from some less impressive previous ceremonies. I wasn't thrilled with Joh Stewart as the host, mostly because his style of humor makes it impossible for him to congratulate someone on their achievement without sounding sarcastic. Jackman is a tremendous talent, but I think the best thing about his hosting performance is that he disappeared periodically. Even with such a great screen presence, there's no reason to have one person monopolizing the entire show, right?

And by the way, I was highly impressed with the two musical numbers that Hugh performed. He starts with an amusing comment on the global financial crisis by performing an amazingly well-rehearsed song and dance using props made out of cardboard and other household supplies, explaining that due to budget cuts he had to plan the whole thing in his garage. I also loved the new way of introducing the nominees, by having five previous winners walk to the center of the stage and each one introduce one of this year's nominees. The introductory speeches, most importantly of all, have begun to lose that wooden sound that they have had so often in the past. I could never understand how they could take some of the most talented people in the industry and have them come out and make some stupid joke before introducing their category. I'm glad to see that we're moving past that!

Queen Latifah sang a beautiful song during the In Memoriam sequence, where we pay tribute to all of the people in show business that passed away in the last year. I was surprised at how many people we lost - from Charleton Heston and James Whitmore (who died earlier this month) to Anthony Minghella, Syndey Pollack and Paul Newman.

You may have noticed, however, the preposterous omission of Heath Ledger. How did that happen? He was one of the most talked about celebrities involved in this year's ceremony and he wasn't even included in the In Memoriam part of the show! What the hell happened? I realize he was included in last year's Oscar ceremony because he died before the show was broadcast, but he won an Academy Award for his performance in 2008! Doesn't that merit being remembered again?

Also noticeable was the lack of any overly long or politically touchy acceptance speeches. I was amazed at how gracious and classy every acceptance speech was. No one spoke for too long, no one had to be rushed off the stage by that damned orchestra, and no one used the opportunity to go into any kind of political tirade. It's clear that some people are going to be offended by some of the things that Sean Penn said in his acceptance speech for Best Actor, but he was talking about the intolerance of homosexuality that is all around us in modern American culture. It's political, yes, but at least that was what his entire performance was all about. Oh, and Bill Maher couldn't resist using the spotlight to try to sell his own unsuccessful documentary and make a political statement, but I guess we can't really expect anything different from him, right?

There were some surprises and some not so surprising wins. It was pretty much well-known that Slumdog Millionaire would win the Best Picture Oscar for some weeks before the show, due in no small part to its successes in other awards ceremonies, although it was for the same reason that Mickey Rourke was expected to receive the Best Actor Oscar, which instead went to Sean Penn for his performance in Milk.

I watched the Oscars assuming that The Reader was not as widely seen as many of the other nominees, so I wasn't expecting Kate Winslet to be recognized for her incredible performance in it. I put Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep ahead of her, although like so many other categories this year, it was an extremely difficult choice. Whatever your choices were for the winners in any category, based on the overall selection of nominees this year, it seems pretty clear to me that movies are getting better and better every year.

We had overtly political movies like Milk and Frost/Nixon that never generated any political disagreements or tasteless speeches, a Best Picture winner that won our hearts despite focusing on the poorest segment of a very foreign culture, a sadly overlooked analysis of our immigration policies and national security infrastructure in both The Visitor and Frozen River, and some wonderful but unconventional nominations in Robert Downey Jr. for his outstanding work in Tropic Thunder and a richly deserved Make-Up nomination for Hellboy II. The tribute to Jerry Lewis was also well-deserved and deeply moving.

Overall, the Oscars were just a huge success this year. The set was as stunning as ever, the performances were entertaining and meaningful, and the introductions were uniformly respectful and well-written. In particular, Robert DeNiro offered a particularly memorable introduction of Sean Penn near the end of the show. But more than anything else, the ceremony concentrated on our deep love of the movies, the power that they have on our lives in so many ways from simply entertaining us to generating meaningful soul-searching, and paying respect and tribute to the men and women of the entertainment industry for their performances past and present.
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8/10
An improvement over past Oscar shows
rgcustomer23 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I'll get the only two negative points out of the way first. Jerry Lewis accepting his award was creepy and the award itself inappropriate. And Bill Maher needs to know his audience. I love the guy, but his stuff fell flat at this show. Perhaps if he had actually handed out free copies of his DVD to the front row, it might have been funnier.

If this is a reduced-cost show, I didn't see that anywhere. So I hope it actually was a cheaper show.

I found that for the actor awards, having past winners of the award make statements about each of the nominees was a great concept. Some of the statements themselves were not. But on the whole, it was good for all of the nominees to have something good said about them, instead of watching yet another meaningless movie clip. I hope they bring this idea back. To do this for every award would be boring, so I'd like to see them mix it up a bit next year, and maybe do it for everyone EXCEPT the actors. For example, I think hearing from past sound editing winners about sound editing might be interesting. This award keeps getting handed out, but I still don't know what makes anyone good or better at it. So tell me.

Hugh Jackman again was an excellent host. I have difficulty recalling anyone who stands out as being better. Although I'm not convinced that the movie musical is back. Chansons d'amour was completely ignored by the awards, despite being beautiful AND French. If French love songs can't win, what musical can?

I think the semi-circular thrust stage was a great way of drawing the theatre audience closer to the stage action, and improving the intimacy of the event. Despite obviously being a huge room, it felt small, which is a good thing.

Despite knowing who was "supposed to win" in advance, and most of those winners being confirmed, the show was paced well. According to my PVR, the show went about 30 minutes long, but I didn't really notice it. It was a bit dull in the third quarter, but I think it holds up well against past years.
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Nothing shocking here – solid show with mostly worthy winners and few surprises
bob the moo1 March 2009
Thanks to Sky yet again, I didn't have access to the full show this year (although they managed to provide 90 minutes of dull red carpet footage on Sky 1 before moving over to the movie channels. The highlights show the next night was what I had to work off with the exception of Hugh Jackman's opening material because apparently Sky didn't have room for that as they filled the start of the highlights with far too much of more red carpet celeb spotting. This in itself goes on for too long but is made even worse by the presentation by Fern Cotton – who we are suppose to like I guess but personally is just so bland as to be almost a pencil outline of herself.

Getting into the ceremony it is obvious they have had a bit of a rejig generally because suddenly the stage seems very low and the audience (or, well, the "important" audience) is very much part of the stage almost. I quite liked this although the downside is that in some shots the audience feels really small (like a small comedy club) and then at other times it looks like the audience has been totally divided into those "in" and those "out", which isn't a nice look no matter how true it is. Another change is that the actors awards are presented by former winners who talk about/to a different nominee each. At times I really liked this but at other times I didn't. When the lines seemed natural and not too corny then it seemed to be a great idea, however it is right on the knife's edge and the odd time it really clunks badly, either by unnatural delivery or by some terrible lines. Adrian Brody's lines to Richard Jenkins was close to disrespectful and it showed on Jenkins' face. Mostly though it is a good idea – just a bit of a dangerous one.

The ceremony was generally quite good although it is always hard to judge on the highlights show given how much is missing. There are the usual awkward comedy moments that aren't as funny as they should be and so on. The one moment that made me angry was the In Memoriam section. OK, liked the idea of having a singer but the direction was awful, all the names and faces moving around on screen all the time meant that many were hard to read, even on a good sized TV. It was an awful moment but happily one of the few as the majority seemed OK. The winners were mostly as expected and I was glad that Slumdog won so much as it deserved all the awards it got and I'm glad the balance with Benjamin Button didn't occur. BB got many technical awards as predicted and that was fine. The acting awards were good. I was surprised that The Wrestler got a shutout in the way it did but everyone who won was good and there wasn't really any of the usual "politics" to the extent there can be.

Overall these 81st awards were a reasonably good show that tried some new things to mostly positive effect. There was only one awful moment and a hatful of weak moments but it comes with the territory I guess. Jackman was a good host and did a good job for someone who was not a comedian but instead did an all-round entertainers job to good effect.
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7/10
Kevin Kline finally appears at the Oscars
Lee Eisenberg7 March 2010
First of all, I didn't get to watch the Oscars last year. I was studying in Moscow, Russia, and there was no way to watch the Oscars. I finally managed to watch clips yesterday (and today's the 82nd Oscars!). Truth be told, I didn't see most of the nominated movies, and I still haven't seen "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", among others.

I wouldn't call Hugh Jackman the greatest host ever, especially after Jon Stewart hosted, but the New Zealand thing was funny. The best moments were of course the political statements from the people involved in "Milk". I wonder what would happen to someone who makes anti-gay statements on the Oscars.

One of the most surprising moments was the awarding of Best Supporting Actor. Former winner Kevin Kline appeared - along with other previous winners - to award the Oscar. I've never seen him on the Oscars before, and it's almost seemed as if he doesn't exist outside of his movie roles.

Oh well. That's just a side note. I liked the clips that I saw. Whether or not Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker was truly the best performance in that category, there wouldn't have been any justification for giving the award to anyone else after what happened to Ledger.

It was a pretty good show.
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7/10
Whatever, just glad it's over?
Syl7 April 2009
I didn't care for this year's Academy Awards. I was upset particularly of how they paid tribute to those we have lost in the past year. I felt Queen Latifah's singing "I'll be seeing you," distracted their final bow and the screen wasn't used fully for their memory. Hugh Jackman was okay but he was more song and dance and the opening was okay. The presenters especially in the acting categories was a change from annual tradition of last year's winners presenting this year's winners. There were no clips shown neither but several collages of film retrospective which I found took up too much time. Jerry Lewis should have received a longer tribute. Maybe they should have also honored somebody who has been nominated numerous times but never won like Glenn Close but her time will come I'm sure. The winners in the acting categories were pretty predictable as well. Everybody I rooted for were long-shots and long like Frank Langella, Melissa Leo, etc. I was glad that Slumdog Millionaire won the awards particularly because it was a great movie that didn't have star power except for Anil Kapoor but it had a great story on screen and off-screen of how the story was made to film. It's a feel good movie and we all need to feel pretty good nowadays.
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7/10
THE 81ST ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS (Roger Goodman and Allen P. Haines, 2009) (TV) ***
MARIO GAUCI7 March 2009
The Academy Awards ceremony used to be shown live on Italian and/or local TV but the practice has been dropped over the last few years; then, on a couple of occasions, I caught the Press Room interviews with the winners on the Internet. I did get to see the 2007 edition in which Martin Scorsese finally had his day but missed out on last year's. Anyway, this most recent show was much-anticipated in view of the many changes promised by the producers, the shadow of the recession which hung over it, and the unusual choice of presenter (actor Hugh Jackman). I feel that the latter went down surprisingly well – dashing and affable but also demonstrating a hitherto cinematically-unproven talent as a song'n'dance man!; the pleasant musical numbers (one intimate, one elaborate, and a medley of the nominated songs) were staged by film-maker Baz Luhrmann in the style of old Hollywood. I had read much about the idea of getting five previous acting Oscar recipients announce and 'present' the current nominees: well, sometimes it worked (i.e. when those making the speeches personally knew the people upon whom they were bestowing flattery – Robert De Niro/Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins/Brad Pitt) but, in other cases, it was embarrassing (such as having Alan Arkin mispronounce Philip Seymour Hoffman's name or Christopher Walken clearly wishing he was elsewhere rather than singing the praises of virtual unknown Michael Shannon); another thing I did not like was the tiny podium which stood almost level with the seats! On the other hand, I approved of the decision to present the Oscars more or less in the chronology of how they materialize within the production of a film; having a recap of examples from various popular genres released during 2008 was nice, too. I was sad to see how poorly Jerry Lewis – picking up the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award – was doing (despite regaining a dignified physical appearance); the "In Memoriam" section was a bit of a mess as well, with the camera sometimes so far away that the names couldn't be read! As for the winners, I cannot say to being surprised – not even by SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE trampling the competition or Sean Penn's politically-motivated triumph with MILK; in the Documentary category, I was sorry that Werner Herzog lost, ditto Mickey Rourke as Best Actor for THE WRESTLER. Incidentally, this year was one of the worst for me since the only two Oscar-nominated films I had caught up with prior to the ceremony were THE DARK KNIGHT and THE WRESTLER itself: with respect to the former, I reiterate that Heath Ledger's performance was good but not really Oscar-worthy – being hardly in the same class as, say, Peter Finch's similarly posthumous win for NETWORK (1976) and that, had Ledger lived, he might not have been nominated to begin with! In the long run, though, this year's Oscar ceremony provided an evening's worth of solid entertainment.
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