Everyone everywhere is blogging about how dull and predictable this ceremony will be, so we won't bore you with that same diatribe. But we will say that there probably won't be any surprises tonight: Slumdog Millionaire will win Best Picture, Danny Boyle will win Best Director, Heath Ledger will win Best Supporting Actor, and Wall-E will win Best Animated Feature. Hopefully, the 'surprises' the Academy has promised to wheel out are of the interesting variety. Anything to spice up this yawnfest.
The Red Carpet
Again, pretty much more of the same, as it has been over the years. There were a few 'trainwrecks' (Jessica Biel, Miley Cyrus...) and a few gorgeous ladies (Heidi Klum, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto...), and the guys were a parade of penguins, with the exception of white-tuxxed Jay Manuel and a slightly dishevelled Gaultier-wearing Mickey Rourke.
Some interesting stuff went down, though; Lisa Rinna was the first to show up, or rather, her lips appeared first, beestung to the nines. For some reason, she's alsways first on the red carpet at all of these awards shows. The Most Adorable Award goes to the kids from Slumdog Millionaire, whose wide eyes and cute Indian accents were a refreshing departure from the same scripted back-and-forth. We did our best to ignore Ryan Seacrest's irritating questions, especially when he asks Millionaire director Danny Boyle if he 'brought some folks from the slum.' Awkward!
All the fuss over Angelina and Brad is completely unfounded. The pair looked exactly the same as they always do: smug and self-satisfied, if not a little bored. Join the rest of us, Brange.
Song and Dance
As promised, the singing and dancing - Broadway style - began in under a minute. Slightly awkward host Hugh Jackman smiled and shimmied his way through the obligatory sycophantic opening number, picking and choosing celebs out of the audience for his 'jokes'. I'm not quite sure why so many people (women, mostly) are gushing over Jackman's singing voice - it's more sing-talking, really. We're sure housewives across the continent were swooning anyway. Unexpectedly, a singing cameo by Anne Hathaway was actually impressive. Maybe she should give up her other job.
The much-ballyhooed Broadway medley of infamous movie songs (i.e. - How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria, You're the One That I Want, etc.) was a bit of a struggle. Dressed in a hot red gown, Beyonce dazzled, but appearances by Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper failed to add to the mix. Instead, the number came off as frenzied and frenetic. The same demographic that's thrilled by the hosting Jackman was probably up dancing in their living room for this big number. One big question: Was Beyonce lip-synching? It seemed like it sometimes, because her mouth moved when there were no lyrics. Suspect...
Funny Funny Funny
Ben Stiller bordered on disrespectful as he imitated Joaquin Phoenix's recent drunken/drugged/spaced out appearance on David Letterman. Even though he talked over most of co-presenter Natalie Portman's lines, he won us over with his ridiculous hair, wild beard, and gum-chewing. A spot-on parody.
Another treat was the surprise short film by Judd Apatow, featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco in Pineapple Express couch mode, which had them paying homage to films that weren't honoured by the Academy. Not the most hilarious thing ever, but a fantastic break from the monotonous montages.
-Seeing Whoopi Goldberg, wearing a leopard print dress with a VERY large tattoo exposed on her right shoulder: Since we're not View watchers, we so very rarely get a glimpse of her, except for Star Trek reruns.
-Possibly the best Oscar acceptance speech ever: 'Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto', by Kunio Kato, winner of the best animated short.
-The acceptance speech from Milk screenplay writer, Dustin Lance Black: The gay writer gave an eloquent, poignant speech about being gay, and how his parents and Harvey Milk encouraged him to be proud of who he is. He also snuck in a jab at the US government for not recognizing gay marriage. Seriously, it's time for the US to get over it. Sean Penn seconded the motion with his acceptance speech later on.
-Mickey Rourke, whose beloved 18-year-old chihuahua died last week, wore a commemorative gold necklace with a picture of his deceased pet as the centrepiece. Just adorable.
-Heath Ledger's family accepting the Best Supporting Actor award for the late actor: Tasteful, short, and well-spoken.
-Christopher Walken's hair! Little wisps! We love him!
-Goldie Hawn's unfortunate dress selection for the presentation of Best Supporting Actress. One wrong move and her nipples were going to come out. Thankfully for all of us, she remained quite still.
-Ditto for Jessica Biel's dress. The girl looked wrapped in toilet paper.
-Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black co-presenting awards: Really.
-The entire middle of the Oscars ceremony was a gigantic black hole of ennui. Seriously, we understand it's an industry celebration, but awards like sound mixing and sound editing don't appeal to any of us laypeople.
-A ridiculous and - let's cut to the chase - shocking (!) omission: In the montage of those we've lost in the past year, there was absolutely no mention of Heath Ledger. He wasn't in last year's montage either. Someone dropped the ball here.
-Sophia Loren, normally the picture of grace and poise, looked like a zombie corpse, fresh from the ground. Everybody in the hall knew it - especially Seth Rogen, who gave the camera an open-mouthed stare as Loren bestowed compliments on Meryl Streep.
So, as predicted, there were no big surprises from Los Angeles tonight, save for Sean Penn winning Best Actor over favourite Mickey Rourke. Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner and Kate Winslet walked away with Best Actress. It was, at least, fun to see most celebrities loose and relaxed onstage. In a time of recession and depression, we need humour, fun, and uplifting sentiment. Tonight we got all three, plus the sense of familiarity and comfort that comes with knowing who's going to win what. In showbiz, and especially for the Oscars, we need a little bit of uncertainty, or else there's no fun in watching. Hopefully next year there's a bit more drama.