23 February 2009 Leave a comment
1. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. Jackman’s opening bit started strong for me but really hit its mark when he pulled Hathaway to the stage and she stole the scene from him. Her singing voice is much stronger than I realized (who knew she could hit such a pure, high note?), and her true joy was evident in how easily she put aside the reverence and went all in with the camp. The rest of Jackman’s opening fell somewhat flat with the loss of Hathaway’s radiance.
2. An award for Heath Ledger is still poignant. Every nomination for Ledger resulted in a posthumous award for the actor’s performance in The Dark Knight so his Oscar win could easily have seemed a bit too unremarkable. And yet, with his family accepting the award and speaking about and to him in their speech, his final award still rang true and was full of as much emotion as the first one given this season. The eyes of those in the audience continued to reveal just how much of a loss they will always feel.
3. Five previous winners introducing the current five nominees. Despite the obvious prompter readings of many, the decision to present the major acting awards with introductions by five former winners of their respective categories was a very special touch. And so many of the past winners were open and honest in their words, often speaking directly to the current nominees with respect and sometimes awe. It made for sweet moments of comraderie and genuine affection, and it allowed these coveted nominations to seem almost as important as the win itself.
4. The joy of the Slumdog Millionaire family. Not often do we get to see true joy and amazement over the awards given to a film, especially when that film is awarded again and again throughout a season. Sure, we do see a lot of gushing and the usual melodramatic hysteria (remember Halle Berry’s moment?), but it’s not sheer joy and it’s not usually coupled with true humility. But the cast and crew of Slumdog Millionaire have displayed it many times during these past months, and
they deserve all of the acclaim. It has been heartwarming to watch.
5. Kate Winslet finding her dad in the audience. With this finally being Winslet’s year for awards, it has become more difficult for her to display genuine surprise in each acceptance, so it was a real treat for her to have an honest moment of unscripted behavior onstage. Having her dad whistle loudly in response to the search for her family in the sea of faces before her provided much warmth to this moment we’ve become too accustomed to seeing over the past few months. Her laughter allowed her to relax and enjoy this rare honor, and the scene will now be remembered for years to come.
6. The true elegance of Taraji P Henson. Hers was not necessarily my favorite dress of the evening, but Henson elevated the couture by her warmth and grace and obvious joy at being part of this year’s nominees. She evoked Hollywood glamour without the overt posing to which so many resort. Every time I saw her on the red carpet and during the ceremony she made me smile, and I honestly wished she could have won the Supporting Actress award to be able to enjoy the moment with her.
7. Witnessing Josh Brolin’s continued rise in the Show. It’s a real treat for me when a beloved actor rises to a level of respect within his craft, and Brolin has been a longtime favorite since I was 16 years old. He seems to finally find some comfort in these spectacle events, and watching him with the interviewers on the red carpet provided many moments of pride for me. He never pretends to be anyone other than the cowboy that he is, but he has achieved such admiration from his peers for his outstanding work these past years that he now has the freedom to enjoy these moments without being asked to work the system. I was thrilled with his nomination this year (though I did not care for the film), and I look forward to all that he has left to offer.
8. The fact that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie don’t even bother to play the Game anymore. These two have enough clout in Hollywood to never have to feign interest in anything, and that has never been so apparent as it was in this latest red carpet season. From dissing Ryan Seacrest at the Golden Globes to just walking away from (and completely past) interviewers at the Oscars, Pitt and Jolie have just taken their entire celebrity into their own hands. They are each other’s handlers, and their faces register their lack of interest in the Hollywood Game. It’s refreshing to see, even if the media continues to find it appalling. They were at the Oscars to celebrate each other. That doesn’t have to be shared with anyone but themselves. I find that to be so honest and true, and it’s one of the reasons I like them.