Oscar lifts Boyle out of the slums

Oscar lifts Boyle out of the slums
Oscar lifts Boyle out of the slums

British film Slumdog Millionaire sweeps the board, says Jason Korsner

23 February 2009

For days now, some of the busiest streets have been closed and covered in red carpet, ready for undoubtedly the biggest event of the film calendar, tonight’s Oscars. Bleacher seats have been erected as workmen fit the carpet and line the famed walkway with topiary and giant Oscar statues.

The entrance to the theatre

Early this morning, hundreds of lucky film fans got to fill the grandstand, spending the day watching journalists preparing for their coverage until the stars began to arrive.

This is just as it has been for several years, but the ceremony itself marked a big change from the past. Rather than being hosted by a comedian – like Jon Stewart, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal or Whoopi Goldberg – the Academy chose the Australian actor Hugh Jackman – not the first of his countrymen to be honoured with the role – Crocodile Dundee‘s Paul Hogan was one of three hosts in 1987.

Jackman was picked for his song-and-dance background – something that was put to good use in his spoof routine honouring the Best Picture nominees and his homage to musicals past, with the help of Beyonce, among others. Oddly, there was time for this, even though the nominees for Best Song weren’t heard in full, as usual. Even the presentation of the major awards was given a new twist – rather than showing a clip of the actors in action – which has arguably been done more than enough during the awards season – in each of the four acting categories, five previous winners were brought on stage, each one praising one of this year’s nominees.

So who won? About time, you might ask. Well, as many predicted, it was Slumdog Millionaire‘s night, as it scooped eight Oscars from its ten nominations – not bad, considering that the most it could’ve picked up was nine, since it was up against itself in the Best Original Song category. The only award it missed out on was Sound Editing – an award that went to The Dark Knight.

  Preparing a piece to cameraUnusually for a film that arguably swept the board at the event, it wasn’t represented in any acting categories – no cast members were even nominated. The supporting actor was – unsurprisingly – to the late Heath Ledger, for his portrayal of Batman’s nemesis The Joker in The Dark Knight. His award was collected by members of his family, who’d flown in from Australia. In a more hotly contested category, his female counterpart was Penelope Cruz, for her role as the crazy ex-wife of Javier Bardem’s artist in Vicky Cristina Barcelona – the third time Woody Allen has led a woman to this prize. Kate Winslet picked up an Oscar – at the sixth time of asking – for The Reader– the American Academy getting right what the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild got wrong – they gave her the Best Supporting actress award for this clearly leading role. She said she’d been practicing this speech in the bathroom mirror since she was eight. “It’s not a shampoo bottle anymore!” she laughed, waving her statuette towards the audience.

On a largely predictable night – when almost all the awards went to the favourites – those who’d been picking up the awards at previous ceremonies – perhaps the biggest upset of the night was Mickey Rourke – in a white suit with no tie – losing out in the contest for tbe Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar, to Sean Penn for Milk. This screenplay picked up the Best Original Screenplay award, with the adapted prize going to Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire– a strong category for British writers, with Mike Leigh and David Hare also nominated for Happy Go Lucky and The Reader. Slumdog’s other main awards were for cinematography, Best Picture and Director. Danny Boyle said he felt deeply privileged and delirious, because of the love people have shown for his film. As the ceremony drew to an end, most of those in attendance headed upstairs to the Governor’s Ball, before jumping in their limousines to tour some of the most lavish parties on the social circuit. Chief among them were Elton John’s AIDs foundation in its usual marquee outside the Pacific Design Centre in West Hollywood, and Vanity Fair – back after last year’s party was cancelled because of the writers’ strike – in a new location on the Sunset Strip. I just wish someone had told me, before I headed to the old venue and found it empty.

Vanity Fair’s new Sunset Strip venueA full list of the winners:

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn for Milk
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet for The Reader
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Best Achievement in Directing: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Milk, by Dustin Lance Black
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: Slumdog Millionaire by Simon Beaufoy
  • Best Achievement in Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle for Slumdog Millionaire
  • Best Achievement in Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Best Achievement in Costume Design: The Duchess
  • Best Achievement in Sound: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Best Achievement in Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Best Achievement in Sound Editing: The Dark Knight
  • Best Achievement in Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Best Achievement in Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Best Original Song: Jai Ho, from Slumdog Millionaire
  • Best Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  • Best Short Film, Animated: Kunio Katô for The House of Little Cubes.
  • Best Short Film, Live Action: Toyland (Spielzeugland) by Jochen Alexander Freydank
  • Best Documentary, Short Subject: Smile Pinki
  • Best Documentary, Feature: Man on Wire (2008)
  • Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: Departures (Japan)
  • Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: WALL·E

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