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Sunday February 22, 2009

THE SHOW ***1/2
They FINALLY got it right-or close to right. After the least watched Oscars telecast a year ago, producers Larry Mark and Bill Condon certainly had their work cut out for them. What they pulled off was to virtually reinvent the show and, as a result, they produced the most entertaining & refreshing Oscar show these eyes have ever seen! I had my doubts going in when it was announced that Australian Hugh Jackman was going to host. Not that he was incapable. It was just we have been so used to stand-up comedians and talk show hosts emceeing that it was hard to fathom a song and dance dude carrying off the (still too long) close to 4 hour extravaganza. But pull it off he did-in spades. He joked, sang, & danced, so perfectly and effortlessly that I can't imagine him not being asked to return again and again. He was that good.

O.K., it wasn't perfect. Again, the show is waaay too long. And you could quibble about things like the occasional overwhelming mishmash of graphics on the back wall, or several musical production numbers which just didn't work, or the occasional questionable camera angles and placement. However, on the plus side were Jackman, the hilarious bit by presenters Steve Martin & Tina Fey, and the ingenious manner in which the major nominees were presented: past winners saying touching (and sometimes humorous) tributes directly to the nominees seated in front of them.

THE RESULTS
Well, so much for my usual 80% success rate! How about 72.7% (8 right out of 11) for the major categories. I missed on Best Actor, thinking the Academy would bypass the best acting job this year (Sean Penn) for the popular comeback story of the year (Mickey Rourke). Well, to their credit, The Academy voters got it right and my analysis got it wrong. As I previously pointed out, the best supporting actress could have been won by any of the 5. So, I had a 1 in 5 chance and missed it as the early odds-on favorite (Penelope Cruz) ended up with the Oscar after all. And the Best Foreign Film was somewhat of a shocker (The Japanese flick, "Departure"), only because I hadn't read anything about it. So, not seeing any of the nominees, my selection here was strictly a guess.

As for my overall score, I had 13 right out of 24, down one from last year.

BIGGEST SURPRISE
Sean Penn. I didn't think the voters would pass up Rourke's amazing comeback story. Maybe Mickey burned a few too many bridges over the years.

BIGGEST NON-SURPRISE
Heath Ledger

2nd BIGGEST NON-SURPRISE
"Slumdog Millionaire" winning the top prize. A great success story totally embraced by Hollywood and the viewing public.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
Mickey not winning-if only because we were robbed of what probably would have been one colorful acceptance speech. If you didn't see it, check out his lively6 minute acceptance speech that he gave the night before at The Independent Spirit Awards. Classic!

WHAT TO IMPROVE ON NEXT YEAR
How about tightening this baby up considerably by chiming in under 3 hours! I mean, it's only 24 awards. Can't you get in 8 awards per hour, instead of 6?? That's only 2 more per hour, guys, with ample time to have more than enough filler in between.

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