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Oscars 2009

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It was Bollywood's big night. The Oscars! I got to watch them in Hawaii where they were tape delayed three hours. What a break! I went online, saw who won, and made huge bets with guests around the pool at the Kapalua Ritz-Carlton. I made a fortune on Sean Penn alone!

The night was summed up perfectly by one of the idiot Red Carpet show hosts when he said, "This is what the Oscars is all about. All ages, all ethnicities, coming together to look their best."

KTLA morning news anchor, Jessica Holmes asked Kevin Kline: "At the Oscars, when you come, do people ask you dumb questions as you hop along?" Tawny Little, you may have finally met your match.

On to the show:

Hugh Jackman was sensational. Kudos to the producers for turning to an actual movie star to host instead of seeing who's available from Comedy Central. Jackman was the best host since Billy Crystal and maybe even Johnny Carson (sorry, Ellen). More amazing than his enormous talent and charm was how he seemed so damn comfortable up there? How does he do that?

Those chandeliers over the audience were designed to give the Kodak Theater a more intimate nightclub feel. It makes me wonder how many high school productions of Phantom of the Opera ended tragically when chandeliers crashed down on the first seven rows?

Actors of course, were in the front section, right up close. Other winners had to vault a little fence to get to the stage.

Hollywood loves Slumdog Millionaire ...now. It's the Best Picture of 2009. Of course a year ago that same Hollywood was ready to send it direct-to-video.

Kate Winslet finally won after six tries. The Titanic was not her fault!

Since when do they give out the Best Director award before Best Actor and Actress?

I'm sorry Robert Downey Jr. lost for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Tropic Thunder. He'd have more Oscars as an African-American than Will Smith.

How'd you like to be an animated movie going up against WALL-E? I bet the Kung Fu Panda producers were seated in the balcony behind Kate Winslet's dad.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman came as Sam Kinison.

For the acting categories it was nice to see former winners (especially my neighbor Eva Marie Saint, way to represent the hood) but did the nominees really need that additional overblown stroking? Every performance was "courageous," "genius," "inspiring." Come on. Marisa Tomei looked good naked.

My favorite was Cuba Gooding Jr. saying, "Let's talk about risks." This is a guy who won an Oscar then went straight into Snow Dogs and Boat Trip.

Michael Douglas is really starting to look like his old man. Now HE'S Spartacus.

As usual in Hollywood it's all about marketing. The Reader: come for the sex, stay for the Holocaust.

Former Oscar winner and worst-Oscar-host-ever, Whoopi Goldberg was saying on The View. a few weeks ago that each Oscar is numbered. Only a very few have ever won one in the "two hundred years of motion pictures." I forget, when Lincoln was shot was he at a play or Clint Eastwood's first film?

Sarah Jessica Parker is morphing into Carole King.

Many believe WALL-E should be the actual Best Picture of the Year. It showed just as much garbage as Slumdog Millionaire and although the sex wasn't as good as The Reader, I'd still rather watch robots make love than Nazis.

Wow! Sophia Loren can still get into her prom dress.

Congrats to Simon Beaufoy for winning Best Adapted Screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire . And all the Slumdog winners but I'm partial to the writer.

How did Happy Go Lucky, a movie that was improvised even get nominated for Best Original Screenplay? And how could WALL-E, the most innovative script in years, not win?

Who designed Miley Cyrus' gown? Her dad? Talk about the cake that got left out in the rain...

Did you notice that Tina Fey got a much bigger reception than Steve Martin? And when Jennifer Aniston was presenting they cut to Angelina Jolie at least three times? Meow.

Quick: Which of these Best Song nominees won? "Jai Ho" or "O Saya"? Dump this stupid category already. It's become as relevant as Best Silent Picture.

Ben Stiller doing Joaquin Phoenix was very funny... for thirty seconds. After that, co-presenter Natalie Portman deserved combat pay.

I guess Judd Apatow now only makes movies for his personal friends to enjoy. That's what YouTube is for, Judd, not the Oscars.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the evening was Queen Latifa singing "I'll be Seeing You" over the "In Memoriam" tribute. It was beautiful and touching. I bet, like me, you watch and try to guess who's going to be last? Paul Newman was perfect. One question though: where was Heath Ledger?

And the lowlight: Bill Maher. He's the embarrassing cousin that's never invited to any family function but shows up anyway.

Why do they have to tell us every year what Costume Designers do? Who thinks that Keira Knightley wore her own street clothes in The Duchess?

Dustin Lance Black gave a lovely heartfelt acceptance speech on gay rights. And it saved the show because Hollywood obviously couldn't decide on what their "cause" would be this year. The need to go green? Oppressed diamond mine workers in Africa? What?? There was not even agreement on the color of ribbons this award season, that's how bad it got.

Sean Penn's plea for equal gay rights was also appreciated although the message might have had more impact if he hadn't started his speech with calling the audience "You commie homo-loving sons of guns." And when Sean was thanking everyone in the world, he could have included his wife.

Seeing Tilda Swinton's outfit all I could think of was "I can show you to your table now."

Glad Slumdog Millionaire beat Benjamin Button for Best Editing. As my daughter, Annie says, "No movie over three hours should even be eligible to win Best Editing."

Benjamin Button did win "Best Make-Up." They made Brad Pitt look younger. The real trick is to do that with Goldie Hawn.

Congratulations to Penelope Cruz. Even with subtitles she won. Expect to see Will Smith in the next seven Woody Allen movies until he gets his.

Mickey Rourke came dressed in no tie and cautionary tales. I'm guessing at 3:00 he realized he didn't have anything to wear so he just beat the crap out of Tom Wolfe and took his suit. It brings new meaning to "who are you wearing?"

I guess we'll never hear Mickey's outrageous expletive-filled acceptance speech now that he lost. But Penn deserved the award. He really became another character. Mickey Rourke played Mickey Rourke without shampoo.

Freida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire was the most gorgeous woman in the room. And yet, when they kept cutting to shots of the cast they showed everyone but her. I don't care that Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail finds Jack Black amusing. Show me Freida!!

Major crisis averted!!! Dani Janssen did not cancel her exclusive Oscar party. She wanted to when pal Clint Eastwood received no nominations (that'll show 'em!) but was convinced by close friends that this country, in its fragile state, couldn't weather that much disappointment. By the way, you are not invited and never will be.

Whoever designed Jessica Biel's gown also dreamed up Aretha Franklin's hat at the Inauguration.

The Jerry Lewis tribute had the potential for trainwreck written all over it. He could have done one of his celebrated gay jokes, or wondered why The Reader was so honored while his Holocaust film about a circus clown imprisoned in a death camp, The Day the Clown Cried was deemed unreleasable. But instead he gave a brief, sincere, and thoroughly classy speech.

Nicole Kidman is starting to look like Joel Grey.

Not a lot of surprises this year. Heath Ledger - who knew? But thanks to Hugh Jackman and a more streamlined presentation (no salutes to "Great Ice Skating Movies of the Past" or other vintage genres) this year's Oscarcast was the best in recent memory. And with that big production number in the middle with Jackman and Beyonce, it qualifies for the best Tony Awards show in ages too.

Aloha.

You can read more from Ken at kenlevine.blogspot.com