Posted by: Alan | February 27, 2009

Oscar Recap 2009


The 81st Annual Academy Awards

February 22, 2009

Alright, so I didn’t really go into this years ceremonies knowing too much about the nominees. I didn’t get a chance to see the majority of the films nominated, including four of the five best picture nominees. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to the ceremony as I have generally loved to see what unexpected events and speeches and winner upsets would emerge. I did see Slumdog Millionaire and love it, so I was hoping it would pick up a lot of awards and looked forward to its inevitable Best Picture win (speculated by many people, including our own Jen).

The format of the show was changed quite a bit this year, and some of the changes I welcomed, while others I despised. So here is my recap of the nights events. Enjoy, and discuss.


6:28pm – Ceremony Begins

To start the show, first time host and strange pick Hugh Jackman welcomes us and starts telling jokes. I worry. The Oscar hosts usually start the show with some kind of stand up routine, however this is generally because it’s a COMEDIAN who is hosting. I was really worried Jackman would try a stand up routine and bomb. Luckily I was wrong and he starts the show with a pretty impressive musical tribute to the Best Picture nominees. Anne Hathaway gets ‘pulled up’ by Jackman and helps him out, and is charming, although I kind of hate scripted things that pretend to not be scripted. One of these days I’d love to see someone ACTUALLY get pulled out of the audience without their knowledge and see what happens.

I actually did enjoy this little music bit and thought it was a great way to start the show.


6:40pm – Supporting Actress

So the first major change to the format of the show is revealed: Instead of showing clips of the roles the actors were nominated for, five past winners emerge and basically tell the nominees how awesome they are. It was an interesting way to do things, but I think I preferred the other way. That way we saw a little glimpse of the performance they were nominated for, and it becomes more about the characters than the actors themselves. With this new format, it seems really self indulgent and yet another way the academy can jerk each other off.

And it should be noted that Goldie Hawn looks terrifying and she definitely chose the wrong dress.


  • Amy Adams (Doubt)
  • Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
  • Viola Davis (Doubt)
  • Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
  • Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)

Penelope’s first order of business upon winning was to question whether or not anyone has fainted before, and then…well…almost fainted. She regained her composure though and finished her speech off with the obligatory Spanish rant.


6:50pm – Original Screenplay

Steve Martin and Tina Fey present the two screenplay awards, and while Steve Martin hasn’t been funny since the 80s, Tina Fey is great and should just marry me already. Also, the format of the show reveals another interesting change, which has to do with the order the awards are presented in. They are presented in roughly the same order the process of making a movie goes in. Screenplay, Pre-Production, Post Production, then of course the major awards. I think it works, and it makes the ceremony have a more natural flow to it.

I also loved how they presented the nominees, with a clip from the film with the screenplay’s words superimposed on top. It was really cool to see the words that created the scene.


  • Frozen River
  • Happy Go Lucky
  • In Bruges
  • Milk
  • Wall-E

While I really would have loved Wall-E to take this one, for a multitude of reasons, I really loved the speech that Dustin Lance Black gave. He seemed very sincere and grateful, and since I have a huge respect for writers this has always been one of my favorite categories.


6:56pm – Adapted Screenplay


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Doubt
  • Frost/Nixon
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire

The first of many wins for Slumdog, and well deserved. I actually didn’t realize this was based on a book, and now I’m going to have to try and track down a copy of it.


7:00pm – Best Animated Feature

Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black present the two animated film awards. I absolutely loved Jack Black’s joke about the whole Dreamworks vs. Pixar scenario. I mean, honestly, if fucking Bolt or even Kung Fu Panda (which wasn’t awful, like Dreamworks earlier features, but not great) won over Wall-E I’m pretty sure the world would have imploded.

Honestly, I feel that Wall-E was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. I hate the fact that it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, and that animated films always are never treated as ‘real’ films. One of the writers over at Progressive Boink, B, was dead on with this forum post:

The worst part about the Academy Awards when it comes to animation is the longstanding, majority belief that animation CANNOT exist for or be enjoyed by adults unless they’re “big kids.” You can’t be a free-thinking, upstanding, responsible adult and enjoy a movie that was drawn instead of filmed. It’s asinine. Giving them a separate category because of the way they’re made is reasonable, but for the Billy Bushes of the world to go on TV and say things like “Wall-E… y’know, I’m a kid at heart, I enjoyed it!” or “the movies in this category I’ve seen because I’ve got a five year old at home!” is just patronizing and stupid.


  • Bolt
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Wall-E

I adore Andrew Stanton. He was behind my two favorite Pixar films (this one and Finding Nemo) and also does voice acting. He basically has the job I want. And the way he ended his speech was probably my favorite part of the evening:

“[…]I guess I’d be remiss if I did not thank my high school drama teacher Phil Perry for 28 years ago casting me as Barnaby in Hello, Dolly!. Creative seeds are sown in the oddest of places so, uh, thank you so much to the Academy for this.


7:06pm – Animated Short


  • La Maison En Petit Cubes
  • Lavatory – Lovestory
  • Oktapodi
  • Presto
  • This Way Up

I was delighted by the speech this guy gave. He ended with ‘Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.’ Awesome.


7:13pm – Art Direction

I don’t have too much to say about most of these ‘Pre-Production’ categories, so I’ll just be noting the Nominees and bolding the winner, as usual. There’s not much I can say about these categories really, so why bother trying?


  • Changeling
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Duchess
  • Revolutionary Road


7:18pm – Costume Design


  • Australia
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Duchess
  • Milk
  • Revolutionary Road


7:20pm – Makeup


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army


7:29pm – Cinematographer

For this award, one of the best moments of the night comes in the form of Ben Stiller. Who would’ve guessed? He comes out to present the award along with Natalie Portman (lookin’ smokin’ as usual), but he’s got a huge beard and sunglasses…a la Joaquin Pheonix on David Letterman. He talks about how he’s quitting acting and does a similar ‘bit’ with his gum that Joaquin did. I thought the best part of this bit was when he just started wandering around the stage while Natalie announced the nominees, and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t planned. Which is why I loved it.


  • Changeling
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire


7:40pm – Pineapple Express?

So then we get a little comedy short by Judd Apatow, and it’s basically James Franco and Seth Rogen’s characters from Pineapple Express talking about the oscar nominees. It wasn’t bad, or anything, but it was an odd choice. It was more or less just them laughing for a few minutes. Also, Pineapple Express was a pretty bad movie, so all I could think when I saw this start was ‘…really?’


7:44pm – Short Film

Here was an interesting bunch of nominees, the winner of which had a bit of a tricky name to pronounce (if you don’t speak German). James Franco clearly doesn’t and his attempt to pronounce the name when announcing the winner made Seth Rogen crack up BAD. It was hilarious.


  • Auf Der Strecke (On The Line)
  • Manon on the Asphalt
  • New Boy
  • The Pig
  • Spielzeugland (Toyland)


7:49pm – Interlude

Now as much as I enjoyed the ceremony’s opening number, this little musical interlude was just painful. First of all, Jackman claims that since Mamma Mia outsold Titanic in the UK or something that ‘The Musical is Back!’ and then he did an elaborate homage to musicals with Beyoncé Knowles. First of all…I’m pretty sure ‘the musical’ never went anywhere. It’s been ‘back’ for a while now (Chicago, Moulin Rouge!, Hairspray, Music Man, Phantom of the Opera, The Producers, Rent, Dreamgirls, Sweeney Todd, these all came out in the past 8 years). But whoever arranged this particular number should not do it again. It was annoying, and not enjoyable in the least.

Also, am I crazy, or did Jackman randomly shout out ‘BRAD PITT’ at the beginning of the number? A strange time to give a shout out.


8:00pm – Supporting Actor

We finally get to another ‘big’ award, and it was probably the one most people knew exactly who would win. One of the most awkward moments of the night was when Cuba Gooding Jr. started talking about Robert Downey Jr. and his role in Tropic Thunder, and making jokes about race, and blah blah blah. Also when it cut to ‘Heath’s Family’ (since I imagine cutting to a coffin would be in poor taste…too soon?) they sure looked pissed. I don’t know why but my thought was that if Heath didn’t take the award here they would have been ready to riot. Maybe they were just trying to look sincere.

And what the hell, Alan Arkin, how dare you mess up Philip Seymour Hoffman’s name (He called him Seymour Philip Hoffman but correctly referred to him as Philip afterwards). That’s just ridiculous. Show some RESPECT.


  • Josh Brolin (Milk)
  • Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
  • Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
  • Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

The acceptance speech was nice. Nothing too overdone and really honest. I was worried about whoever accepted this award on behalf of him coming up and just crying the whole time. Not that that’s not allowed it just would have been less tactful than what his family did for him here. I am content with how the Heath Ledger Dark Knight Saga has ended.

Oh, except when the last person talked and said HEEEEEATH really deep and scary.


8:11pm – Documentary Feature

Bill Maher comes out and not only plugs his own movie (Religulous) but complains about how he didn’t get nominated in this category because it was about religion and people can’t handle it. Shut up Bill Maher. Just shut up. I will probably still watch your movie but quit being such a pompous dick.


  • The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
  • Encounters at the End of the World
  • The Garden
  • Man on Wire
  • Trouble the Water

Hey! The winner is a movie James recently reviewed! And gave it a perfect score! See, we do know what we’re talking about! THE ACADEMY AGREES!

The star of the film came up and balanced the Oscar on his chin. That guy rules.


8:16pm – Documentary Short


  • The Conscience of Nhem En
  • The Final Inch
  • Smile Pinki
  • The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306

Now we have more boring awards. Stay tuned.


8:26pm – Sound Editing


  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Wall-E
  • Wanted


8:29pm – Sound Mixing


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Wall-E
  • Wanted


8:32pm – Film Editing


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire


8:39pm – Jean Hersholt Award

Eddie Murphy (?) presents this year’s Jean Hersholt Award, and it goes to Jerry Lewis. I guess since they both played a ‘Nutty Professor’? I’d think Lewis would have been offended at Murphy’s terrible version. Oh well.

I really loved his speech though:

Thank you. Thank you so very much. For most of my life, I thought that doing good for someone didn’t mean you would receive you would receive commendation for that act of kindness, at least until now. This award touches my heart and the very depth of my soul because of who the award is from and those who will benefit. The humility I feel is staggering and I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I thank you. I thank the Academy and to all of you people from the movie business. It’s such a joy being a part of you and everything you do. Thank you and good night.

What an adorable old man.


8:48pm – Original Score/Original Song

Slumdog takes both of these, and I have to say I did not like the way they presented the original song category. A.R. Rahman sang the songs from Slumdog but the Peter Gabriel song nominated from Wall-E was sung by John Legend (apparently because Gabriel refused to sing since he could only do 65 seconds of the song). Basically they took the three nominees and made a medley all at once, as opposed to the usual way of presenting/singing the songs throughout the ceremony and THEN announcing the winner. I like the old way MUCH better. Just another way to minimize the length of the show, I suppose.


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Defiance
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Wall-E


  • Down to Earth (Wall-E)
  • Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire)
  • O Saya (Slumdog Millionaire)


9:03pm – Foreign Film

I guess this is the first win for Japan, after being nominated 12 other times. So…good for them! That’s all I have to say. I apologize for not being well versed in Foreign films. I’m working on it!


  • The Baader Meinhof Complex
  • The Class
  • Departures
  • Revanche
  • Waltz With Bashir


9:08pm – In Memoriam

Ok here was one of the worst parts of the evening. The In Memoriam video is a Oscar tradition and instead of just showing the screen like they normally do, the camera swoops around and goes back and forth from the screen to Queen Latifah singing “I’ll Be Seeing You” while the tape plays. It was so frustrating and I couldn’t really see the people this was supposed to be honoring. I was also surprised George Carlin wasn’t in the video, and at first, Heath Ledger. I figured he’d be the last one shown and everyone would bawl. But I forgot he was included in last years video since he died in January of 2008. Phew! Thought they forgot to include him.


9:16pm – Director

Alright so I’ve been a fan of Danny Boyle since 28 Days Later but I had never really known what he looks like. So when they kept cutting to him in the audience throughout the show, I couldn’t help but think it was Rudy Giuliani. I clued in after a while, since they always showed him when they were mentioning Slumdog.


  • David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
  • Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon)
  • Gus Van Sant (Milk)
  • Stephen Daldry (The Reader)
  • Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

His speech was great, mostly because he started with jumping up and down and claiming he told his kids if he ever won an Oscar he’d accept it in the spirit of Tigger. Adorable.


9:22pm – Actress in a Leading Role

Sophia Loren is FRIGHTENING.


  • Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
  • Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
  • Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
  • Meryl Streep (Doubt)
  • Kate Winslet (The Reader)

Yay Kate! I have loved her work for so long and am glad she finally got a win from her many nominations. I also love how she told Meryl Streep to suck it up at the end of her speech. I find it interesting how much people adore Meryl Streep…I don’t find her that special. She’s obviously not terrible, but she always seems to be treated as the greatest actress in the world, and I don’t agree with it. But I digress.


9:33pm – Actor in a Leading Role

So for the past winners we have Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Anthony Hopkins and…Adrien Brody? Really? One of these things is not like the other…

And then to have him be the one to talk to Richard Jenkins, a fantastic actor who was in the greatest television show of all time (Six Feet Under) and not even know who he is? What a punk.


  • Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
  • Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
  • Sean Penn (Milk)
  • Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
  • Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)

Upset! Most people had Rourke pegged as the lock for this one. Everyone loves a comeback story right? Apparently not the Academy! Or at least not as much as they love Sean Penn. You know, I haven’t seen Milk, but I did see Mystic River (which he won for as well) and he wasn’t anything special. And then he gave a strange shout out to Rourke at the end of his speech and Rourke did not look pleased. Well he didn’t really look like he was emoting at all, but still. It was bizarre.


9:44pm – Best Picture of the Year

FINALLY. The show wasn’t as long as usual I don’t think, but it felt really long. But it always does. I just wish there had been more interesting moments like Ben Stiller Pheonix and Tigger Bouncing. Oh well, Slumdog Millionaire can take Best Picture and I can go home and sleep.


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire

See? Told you. I love how many people always inevitably come up to accept the award for Best Picture. It’s like the end of Survivor when the family of the winner all rush on stage and hug and cry and jump and scream. Then it’s time for the reunion show, and everyone who hated each other on the island suddenly love each other, or still hate each other because they want to be TV villains, and Jeff trys to moderate things but doesn’t do a great job, and the first person voted off gets one little thing to say (because no one remembers them), and then…


That concludes my Oscar Recap! I hope it was more entertaining than the Ceremony itself. If it wasn’t…well suck it Meryl Streep.




  1. Again with the Streep bashing! Do you guys even watch movies? Something tells me you didn’t see Doubt this year, Alan.

    Once a year a team of archeologists descend into Sophia Loren’s cavernous tomb to unearth her mummified remains and after weeks of delicate restoration and bronzer they let Ms. Loren wander the red carpet for a few hours. After this they return her to her ancient rest, the archeologists breathing a sigh of relief as the expedition only cost them one intern this year, who Ms. Loren ate for sustinance.

    Milk was great. And Sean Penn was amazing in it. Watch it, Alan. Mystic River Mystic Shmiver. “A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely dissapointed in the future.” -Sidney J. Harris

    Or as Harvey Milk might have said “You gotta give ’em hope.”

    Good recap though! And FUCK YEAH I was right about Man On Wire!

  2. A pity Meryl Streep didn’t win the Oscar. I agree with many others that she’s the best actress ever.

  3. No Streep ‘bashing,’ more ‘critical intrigue.’

    And I will be seeing Milk soon! I really wanted to see it (as I have many of the nominees) but Lethbridge is pretty bad with getting good films here. I can always be sure to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua if I want, but when Slumdog or The Wrestler or Milk are out, it’s tough to find.

    It’s a major reason I usually don’t get to see movies until they’re out on DVD.

  4. I agree with a lot of your points. “The musical is back!” seemed like such an odd thing to say, since as you mentioned, we’ve seen a lot of movie musicals in recent years, and one even won Best Picture!! Meanwhile, I agree the in memorium presentation sucked, and I also expected to see Heath Ledger in there, but about halfway through I remembered he’d been remembered last year. Doesn’t seem like he’s been dead that long, does it, especially with how big TDK was last summer and all. And the whole Oscar win.

    Nice digression into Suvivor talk at the end, it made me smile:)

  5. Golly!
    You basically covered everything I was going to.
    (Including Goldie Hawn, or OLDIE HAWN! ZING!)
    Maybe I’ll just write a recap on my love for Tina Fey & Natalie Portman.

    Good read, Al Pal!

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