The 81st Oscars: An Unprecedented Academy Awards Night

by Melissa Mahfouz
Special to iVoryTowerz

The 81st Oscars was quite spectacular. Minus the cheesiness of Disney prodigies (the program was broadcast on Disney's network ABC) and at times the excessive patronization, this year's Oscars found an unprecedented flavor. To begin with, the thought of Hugh Jackman as host was met by this writer with weariness, yet for the duration of the ceremony he maintained an ambiance of entertainment and yes, even hilarity. Although his musical mannerisms were crude at best, he certainly made an effort and it showed. The genius combination of Tina Fey and Steve Martin as presenters made for moments of laughing-out-loud comedy, compensating for Jackman's and Anne Hathaway's disharmonious musical duet that produced exclamations of "what the hell is this?"

The ceremony provided an element of eclecticism, with its diverse array of tributes, montages, and seemingly unconventional musical performances, including Beyoncé, among others, gracing us with their presence.

Individually, Meryl Streep stole a good portion of attention, as is due for her astounding 15 nominations. Yet, the evening clearly, without hesitation belonged to a select few: Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Milk, and of course Sean Penn and Kate Winslet for their performances. The Dark Knight's merits were recognized, yet overshadowed by its competitors, and justly so. Slumdog racked up awards in Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Editing, Director, Original Score and Song, and, what I was rooting for, Best Picture. Benjamin Button was second with Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects, yet the night certainly revolved around a Mumbai slum no longer in the shadows of obscurity. Winslet brought the audience to tears with her sentimentalism. A bit later, Penn advocated, very strongly for gay rights in the United States.

The Oscars always makes for a promising evening, yet the 81st was without a doubt one of the best produced and righteous.

For a variety of posts concerning this year's winners, please see:

(The photo is by cliff1066 of Arlington, VA via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license. To see the opening of the 81st Academy Awards, please check the video below.)

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Rick Rockwell said...

Late Editing Note: Unfortunately Sean Penn’s speech was not available online when this piece was posted, originally. However, for those who want to see a more politically-oriented video from the ceremonies, please follow the link above.

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