Time for a little Oscar postmortem:
I thought Hugh Jackman's opening number was hilarious and wow, he has such a terrific stage presence. It's nice to have a host who looks good in a tux and can do more than tell a few topical jokes. He reminded us that the movies are about glamour. Plus, Anne Hathaway is so funny, so adorable. I've loved her ever since The Princess Diaries and I'm sure she'll get an Oscar someday soon.
Hugh's big musical number, produced by Baz Luhrmann, was ok. It did seem a little strange to give a big wet kiss to movie musicals this year, since there weren't any nominated. But I enjoyed the shoutout to films like West Side Story. Coincidentally, I'd been listening to the Broadway cast recording on my iPod that very afternoon! Anytime I get to see the talented Mr. Jackman singing and dancing, it's a treat.
Honestly, I thought the show dragged a bit - maybe because I'd seen so few of the nominated movies. It was a little hard to get swept up in the all the hoopla for Slumdog Millionaire. From the descriptions I've read, it's much too violent for me. I'll have to wait until it comes out on dvd. As for The Wrestler, I'll probably never see it. Same for The Reader. I read the book, though. Does that count?
But I did like the way they gave out the awards - taking us from the script to the finished product and showing us a little bit about the process along the way. And I liked having winners from previous decades standing in a semicircle to introduce this year's nominated performances.
Seeing all of the little kids on stage when Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture was awfully cute. And watching Phillipe Petit balance an Oscar upside down on his chin when Man on Wire won for Best Documentary was pretty cool.
There were very moving acceptance speeches from Dustin Lance Black for Best Original Screenplay for Milk; Kate Winslet for Best Actress for The Reader, the family of the late Heath Ledger accepting his award for Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight; and Sean Penn for Best Actor for Milk.
Both Black and Winslet were so personal about what the award meant to them. And I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for Ledger's parents and sister, who aren't in show business, to get up there in front of thousands of people. I would have been like a deer in headlights.
Winslet was so sweet, talking about how she'd dreamed of this moment ever since she was a little girl: "I'd be lying if I hadn't made a version of this speech before, I think I was probably eight years old and staring into the bathroom mirror. And this (holding up her statuette) would've been a shampoo bottle. Well, it's not a shampoo bottle now!"
I got choked up when Black talked about what Harvey Milk's life meant to him as a gay man and the message that Harvey would want him to give to gay and lesbian kids who have been told that they are less than by their families, their church, their government: that "you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that, no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you."
And Penn, who portrayed one of the country's first openly gay elected officials, used his speech to remind the audience plainly and simply what this fight for our gay and lesbian friends and family and neighbors and coworkers is all about: "We've got to have equal rights for everyone."