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The 81st Annual Academy Awards (2009) Poster

(2009 TV Special)

Trivia

Heath Ledger became the second performer to win a posthumous acting Oscar. The first was Peter Finch (in 1977, for Network (1976)).
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Nicole Kidman had at one point been set to play Kate Winslet's Oscar winning role of Hanna Schmitz in The Reader (2008), but passed on the part due to pregnancy. Also, Marion Cotillard had been briefly considered for the role of Hanna before Winslet was cast. Ironically, both Kidman and Cotillard were two of the presenters who awarded Best Actress winner Winslet her Oscar trophy.
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For the first time, the Academy kept the list of presenters secret.
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Doubt (2008) was the first film to receive four Oscar nominations for acting since Chicago (2002). Chicago went on to win one, but Doubt didn't win any.
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Slumdog Millionaire (2008) was the first Best Picture winner to receive more than four Oscars since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
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For the first time since 1987, one of the four acting winners was not present to accept his award: the late Heath Ledger. He was also the only one of the 20 nominated actors not present at the ceremony.
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All five Best Picture nominees are contemporary period films: Slumdog Millionaire (2008) (Mumbai, 1990s - 2006), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) (primarily New Orleans, 1918 - 2005), Frost/Nixon (2008) (primarily California, 1974), Milk (2008) (San Francisco, 1970s), The Reader (2008) (primarily Berlin, 1958 - 1995). The films also received nominations for their respective directors.
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Janusz Kaminski became the first cinematographer to present an award.
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Notable actors like Harvey Korman, Eartha Kitt, Robert Prosky, George Carlin, Patrick McGoohan, Anita Page, and Beverly Garland were not part of the "In Memoriam" segment.
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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.
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