The 2009 Academy Awards -- the 81st annual -- was truly spectacular. Now perhaps I am a bit overzealous after not watching the Oscars for the past five years as our early March family trips somehow coincided every single time with the Academy Awards. But I adored this Academy Awards. Adored. Almost everything.
The fashions are always one of my favorite parts. I loved Kate Winslet's gorgeous steel-grey and black, Anne Hathaway's glimmering elegance, Penelope Cruz's gorgeous vintage, Natalie Portman pretty in pink, Jennifer Anniston classy in white, Tina Fey almost classy in white as well. I wasn't so sure about Amy Adams (not that stunning red dress and huge multi-colored necklace together), Sarah Jessica Parker (all that "barely mint" poofiness and chest hanging out), Marisa Tomei (a little too structured and weird), Meryl Streep (dull color), Heidi Klum (needed Tim's advice - such an unflattering silhouette!), Tilda Swindon (baaaaaaad! ugh!!!!!!!!), and Angelina Jolie (yuck, black with weirdly not matching emerald earrings). The fashion is always the most fun part of the evening.
Hugh Jackman's opening number was wonderful, especially his schtick with Anne Hathaway doing the Frost/Nixon thingy. Great singing! I really, really loved Hugh's hosting of the evening: he joked, he sang, he danced. He was relaxed without being forced. Definitely the best host ever compared to Ellen, Billy, Letterman, and especially Whoopi. Especially. And Hugh Jackman was hilarious. Definitely a highlight all the way. Loved having an actor rather than a comedian host -- much classier and less artificial than any Oscars in my memory anyway.
My very favorite thing was the way the acting awards were presented, with twenty previous winners each lauding a nominee, addressing them personally rather than having the winner from the year before present the nominees of the opposite sex. But I especially loved the Actress awards, with each nominee tearing up (I think Angelina did -- she was the only "maybe."). But seeing Anne Hathaway tear up when Shirley Maclaine spoke to her and Kate Winslet get teary when Marion Cotillard introduced her was touching and wonderful. What a superb idea of having a group of former winners lauding the nominees. Wow.
The only sour note of the evening was what could have been a lovely section: the In Memoriam portion with Queen Latifah. If the camera had backed off her and gone directly to the images of those who had died during the past year, it would have been fine. Touching. But the camera kept panning back to Queen Latifah and viewing the screen at weird angles, making it extremely difficult to read the names of the deceased. Frustrating and totally stupid.
But I loved the rest of it: the musical section with Hugh Jackman, Beyonce, and Amanda Seyfried was terrific as was the other portions of the program. And the presenters were well-chosen: Jack Black and Jennifer Anniston, Tina Fey and Steve Martin (hilarious!), etc. The only bad match was Robert Pattinson and Amanda Seyfried, mostly because the guy could barely get his lines out and wouldn't look at the camera.
Now although Moviephone and a bunch of places have panned the entire 81st Academy Awards, I thought it was brilliant and lovely -- from the crystal curtains and classic "Big Band" look to Hugh Jackman to the previous winners presenting the acting nominees to the look at how films are made. So, just like with most movie reviews, one can't listen to the "experts"... because they never get it right.
For a link to some great Oscar photos, see this link: 2009 Oscars.