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Winners of The 81st Annual Academy Awards February 22, 2009 8:54 pm

Posted by Rosario T. Calabria in 81st Annual Academy Awards, Movies.


Winners of the 81st Annual Academy Awards follow below.

Winners are marked in Red.

Better Academy Awards presentation than I expected.  Slumdog Millionaire did about as well as most expected and really only two surprises (Best Foreign Film going to Departures and Best Actor going to Sean Penn).

Best motion picture of the year


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), A Kennedy/Marshall Production, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), A Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Production, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
“Milk” (Focus Features), A Groundswell and Jinks/Cohen Company Production, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), A Mirage Enterprises and Neunte Babelsberg Film GmbH Production, Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti and Redmond Morris, Producers
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A Celador Films Production, Christian Colson, Producer

And that makes an impressive eight Oscars for the night for Slumdog Millionaire a near sweep (how fitting that it lost out to The Dark Knight — which should have been nominated for at least Best Director and Best Movie — in one category–sound editing).

Performance by an actor in a leading role

milk-022209Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films)
Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)
Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features)
Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Well, there you go. I was pulling for Rourke and expected him to win. You have to believe this was a 1-2 race between Penn and Rourke but it’s still surprising, likely the biggest surprise of the night.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

katewinslet-022209Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal)
Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax)
Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)

Expected. But well deserved.

Achievement in directing


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Ron Howard
“Milk” (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle

And yet another Oscar goes to Slumdog Millionaire.  This makes number seven for the evening.  I wasn’t so amazed by Boyle’s direction and still believe there were two snubs in this category (Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight and Darren Aronfsky for The Wrestler), but what are you gonna do?

Best foreign language film of the year

“The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany
“The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France
“Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
“Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria
“Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel

Surprising.  I thought for sure that Golden Globe-winner Waltz with Bashir would take the win, but instead it was Departures.  Perhaps the omission of Gomorrah (I’d love for someone to explain to me how it didn’t get a nomination) was just enough for Departures to slip into the top spot.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

goldenglobesslumdogmillionairesoundtrack-011109“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
“Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
“O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam

And that makes four in row, six total for the evening.  There was always the possibility that there would be a split between the two Slumdog Millionaire songs, but it didn’t happen.  Perhaps if Bruce Springsteen’s The Wrestler got a nomination (I’m still disappointed that it didn’t get nominated) that would have happened.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

goldenglobesslumdogmillionairesoundtrack-011109 “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Alexandre Desplat
“Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
“Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman

Beautiful composition by Michael Giacchino leading into the reading of the nominees.  This makes Oscar #5 for Slumdog Millionaire and the third in a row.  The score won at the Golden Globes as well, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.  Wall-E was the wild card though because it wasn’t nominated at the Golden Globes.

jerrylewis-022209Jean Hersholt Award

Jerry Lewis

Eddie Murphy introduced a reel honoring Jerry Lewis and presented the Jean Hersholt Award to the actor/comedian.

Achievement in film editing


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
“Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

And that makes Oscar #4 and puts Slumdog Millionaire at the head of the pack for the evening.

Achievement in sound mixing


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
“Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

I was half expecting The Dark Knight to win this one after the win for sound editing, but Slumdog Millionaire isn’t much of a surprise.  This is the third Oscar on the evening for Slumdog Millionaire, tied with ‘Benjamin Button’.

Achievement in sound editing

thedarkknightjoker-512“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
“Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Glenn Freemantle and Tom Sayers
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
“Wanted” (Universal), Wylie Stateman

Ah, cool.  Really wasn’t expecting this.  Actually thought it would go to either Slmudog Millionaire or Wall-E.  This is the second Oscar so far for The Dark Knight.

Achievement in visual effects

curiouscaseofbenjaminbutton-022209“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
“Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

That action reel was pretty cool.  This is the third Oscar on the night for ‘Benjamin Button’.

Best documentary short subject

“The Conscience of Nhem En” A Farallon Films Production, Steven Okazaki
“The Final Inch” Vermilion Films in association with Google.org, Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
“Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan
“The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306” A Rock Paper Scissors Production, Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

Best documentary feature

“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
“Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
“The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
“Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall in association with Red Box Films Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
“Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Bill Maher was up on stage to present the nominees for both best documentary and documentary short subject.  It’s true what he says, many times these are the films, unfortunately, that go unnoticed by the public.

And being Maher he of course had to get a jab in at religion.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

thedarkknightjoker-512Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features)
Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax)
Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.)
Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

They had a musical number before the break.  Not sure I want the musical to be back after watching that.

Back to the category at hand.  Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker was one of the most unforgettable performances of the year. Touching tribute by Heath’s family (father, mother and sister) who were there to accept the award.

Best live action short film

“Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
“Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
“New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
“The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
“Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank

Leading into the category was a short film directed by Judd Apatow starring starring James Franco and Seth Rogen who reprised their roles from Pineapple Express to have a few laughs at the Oscar-nominated films. Couple funny bits in that.

Achievement in cinematography


“Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

Heh…pretty good impersonation of Phoenix by Stiller. By the way, this is Oscar #2 for Slumdog Millionaire, tied with ‘Button’.

Achievement in makeup

curiouscaseofbenjaminbutton-022209“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

#2 for ‘Benjamin Button’. Tough group.  All three films had amazing makeup work but the onscreen transformation of Pitt, despite being assisted somewhat by special effects, gives ‘Benjamin Button’ the edge.

Achievement in costume design

theduchess-022209“Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West
“The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor
“Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker
“Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Albert Wolsky

It seems like period pieces always are the ones to come away with this award, no?

Achievement in art direction

curiouscaseofbenjaminbutton-022209“Changeling” (Universal), Art Direction: James J. Murakami, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Peter Lando
“The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Art Direction: Michael Carlin, Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
“Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Art Direction: Kristi Zea, Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

Best animated short film

“La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
“Lavatory – Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
“Oktapodi” (Talantis Films), A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
“Presto” (Walt Disney), A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland
“This Way Up” A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

Haven’t seen any of these.  Where does one check out these short’s anyways?

Best animated feature film of the year

walle-small-60908“Bolt” (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard
“Kung Fu Panda” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton

For a minute I was worried that the academy would award Kung Fu Panda over Wall-E, but they made the right call.  It would have been great to see the film pick up an award for original screenplay, but this will do.

Adapted screenplay


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
“Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

The first of, no doubt, many for the evening.  Well deserved. I imagine ‘Button‘ would have been the other possibility.

Original screenplay

milk-022209 “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
“Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
“In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
“Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

Don’t agree with this at all.  I’m sorry, but I just find Milk a bit overrated.  The win was expected, but I was just really hoping that Wall-E would pull out a win here.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

penelopecruzvickycristinabarcelona-022209Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax)
Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)
Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax)
Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Actually didn’t see Vicky Cristina Barcelona so I can’t give much of my 2 cents here.



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