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Golden Years

I watched the 81st Academy Awards last night, which really wasn’t one of the most satisfying ceremonies I can recall seeing. I’ve been watching them consistently for about seven years and off and on before that and I’ll admit it has it’s “on” years and “off” years” in my opinion. There were a few high notes last night and some definite laughs, but the ceremony was not without it’s disappointments, so let’s take a look back at the 81st Academy Awards.

The Host
Hugh “Wolverine ” Jackman joined the list of entertainers to host the prestigious event and definitely started out with a bang. I’d forgotten about his extensive background in musical theater, so the opening number really caught me off guard. For those who didn’t watch the ceremony, Hugh lead a song and dance number through cheap sets singing about various nominees. He had some silly lyrics, did a duet with Anne Hathaway (being the Nixon to his Frost) and even did an interpretive techno infused portion about how he didn’t see The Reader. It was funny, but after that I really didn’t feel Hugh having much of a presence for the rest of the evening. He came back later to a fairly lame song and dance number tribute to musicals (not sure why, there were no musicals nominated) but aside from that it’s like they didn’t even have a host. I think it goes to show that you really should go with a comedian to host if you want consistency

The Ceremony
I can’t remember who planned, or directed, or was the head honcho behind this year’s ceremony but it was a mess. I mean having all the acting categories presented by five actor groups giving long, drawn out, awkward tributes to each performer was so incredibly tedious. It felt phony too, I mean Adrien Brody talking about Richard Jenkins as if he’s one of the greatest living actors, I was just ready for him to say “I love you” it didn’t work at all and really tried my patience. The pairings of presenters didn’t seem to fit either, Daniel Craig and Sarah Jessica Parker? Yeah they really had chemistry. I also had a problem with the sets looking like makeup or supplies rooms. Some of these technical nominees probably get pretty excited attending the most glamourous night in industry and you’re gonna make em stand in front of a bunch of junk?

Though I was disappointed by the show’s arrangement, I did like band leader/composer Michael Giacchino’s more swing oriented musical approach. I’ve liked the guy ever since he made that sweet ending theme for Cloverfield and I think he did a pretty good job.

The Awards
Most of the awards weren’t much of a surprise. I did pretty good on my Oscar scorecard cruising along through most of the night. I think most people, myself included, were pretty touched by Heath Ledger’s family accepting his award so that was a nice highlight. The only thing that really steamed my potatoes (and I’m sure all my close friends and associates know what I’m about to say) is denying Mickey Rourke of his first and probably only chance to ever win an Oscar. Sure Sean Penn was good but it was just as good as any other performance he’s ever done (I think it mostly got a boost due to the film’s issues and political relevance) but Penn will probably get plenty of other chances to win or get nominated. I mean 56 year old Mickey “The Comeback Kid” Rourke was outstanding in his strikingly genuine performance and although it’s apparent that he’s an amazing actor, he may never get this perfect of a role ever again. Personally, Sean Penn’s not even my second pick that would be Frank Langella (Who is as well unlikely to get another shot for an Oscar) but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Screenplays, Director, the other Acting Nominees, Best Picture, didn’t really surprise me. I wasn’t particularly excited going into the ceremony (aside from the possible Rourke victory) and wasn’t very excited after the ceremony. A definite weak year for the Oscars if you ask me, but it could always be better next year, I mean 2007 was awesome.

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