Starting with the absolutely adorable Slumdog kids on the red carpet, everyone seemed relaxed and happy last night. The acceptance speeches were pretty touching all around, and Penelope Cruz and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black definitely had the most heartfelt ones of the evening. And we can breathe a sigh of relief -- Kate Winslet remembered to thank her husband this time.
Things were toned down a bit thanks to the recession, with the ladies showing up in gorgeous gowns -- but little bling -- and the ceremony playing it pretty straight. The opening cardboard cutout, "we don't have money for set pieces" nominee song and dance was pretty amusing, even if somewhat out of place performed under a huge (and no doubt expensive) Swarovski crystal arch. And donít worry Hugh, you didnít miss too much by not yet seeing The Reader.
As far as awards, there werenít really any big surprises with Slumdog Millionaire cleaning up in nearly every category it got nominated, including Best Picture and Best Director. Best Actor could have gone to either Mickey Rourke or Sean Penn, and it was Penn who ultimately took the statue home (though he gave a nice shout-out to Rourke in his speech); other acting honors went to Penelope Cruz, Kate Winslet and, of course, the late Heath Ledger, whose family accepted the award on his behalf.
Other highlights included Ben Stillerís "Hasidic meth lab" Joaquin Phoenix impression, the Judd Apatow short with James Franco and Seth Rogen mostly laughing on a couch, and Steve Martin and Tina Feyís ďjust donít fall in love with meĒ award presentation together.
It would have been nice if Alan Arkin hadnít butchered Philip Seymour Hoffmanís name, Jessica Biel wasnít so boring, and the cameraman during the In Memoriam photo montage didnít insist on shooting multiple angles of a flat screen so viewers at home missed half the honorees. (And Iíll admit, thatís usually one of my favorite parts.) And while the one-on-one for each acting nominee before the winner was announced was nice, it caused things to go on a bit long -- but then again, what are the Oscars if not perpetually over time?
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