Overall, I enjoyed the Oscar ceremony, but I realized around 10:30 that the night would be endless. It was at 10:30 that I looked over at the clock and realized that Best Supporting Actor had yet to be announced. And even though I have to Hugh Jackman high marks simply for his enthusiasm, I really missed the snarky one-liners of previous hosts like Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres. But Hugh’s joy was infectious (in a good way) and it really seemed like he was having his boyhood dream come true by hosting the Oscars.
So what are some of the other highlights of the evening? I’ll do my favorites, and what I thought were some of the most notable moments:
* Anne Hathaway pretending to be Richard Nixon to Jackman’s David Frost. It really cracked me up, even though it was truly weird.
*Heath Ledger’s family showing a lot of class and solidarity during their speech, and how nearly every actor that was cut to during the speech was crying.
*Kate Winslet finally winning, and telling Meryl Streep to suck it up. It sounded a little harsh, but I liked how Winslet really showed the world how much she wanted the award instead of feigning shock and humility. She was very real.
*The Best Song thing with John Legend and the Indian dancers was awesome. They should come back for every awards show.
*It seemed like so many of the actresses were wearing different cream-colored versions of the same basic dress. It was so weird and “Twilight Zone” – did someone send a memo?
*I loved the Indian sound-mixing winner who thanked the word “Om”, the word of God. It was priceless!
*How multi-cultural the ceremony and the winners were. It was sort of like this last year, when every winner in the acting categories was a non-American. I remember, after last year’s Oscars, Chris Matthews said on “Hardball” that it is a great tribute to our country and to the American film industry that we reward artists from different cultures and backgrounds, and the same can be said this year. Seeing all of those Indians receive awards, for me, as an Indian-American, was really special.
*On the same note, Penelope Cruz’s speech was lovely. She seemed like one the most emotional women there, and I liked that she gave part of her speech in Spanish.
*At first, I thought Queen Latifah singing over the “In Memory” section would be a disaster, but it was really good! My only complaint was that they should have brought the camera in closer so we could actually see the people’s names. I had to squint to see “Paul Newman” for God’s sake.
*I loved, loved, loved the format for awarding the acting categories, by bringing in old winners in that category. It‘s a really nice way to honor the nominees by their peers, and you could really tell with some more than others, just what an honor it was. When Shirley MacLaine talked about Anne Hathaway, Anne looked like she was near tears. And when Eva Marie Saint talked about Viola Davis, Viola actually did start crying. The best one was Robert DeNiro talking about Sean Penn: “How did he do it… all of these years, getting jobs playing straight men?” DeNiro can deliver the hell out of a one-liner!
All in all, a good ceremony without any big surprises. I was a little disappointed that Mickey Rourke didn’t win, but he’s still got a good career resurgence out of this role. It will be interesting to see what the ratings were – I bet they were pretty good in the beginning of the show, but tapered off after the third hour.
Well, it’s the end of the awards season, and I’m pretty happy about the way things shook down. What did you think?