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The Blue & Gray Press | November 18, 2017

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81st Academy Awards Shimmer

BY DEBBY CHANG

Watching the Oscars is like riding a roller coaster with celebrities.
The excitement, anticipation, fear and laughter all happens during a three-hour award show. All the ups and downs can happen in the second before a winner is announced. From the red carpet to the actual show, we sit at the edge of our seats wishing we were there. Brad and Angelina, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Dev Patil, Anil Kapoor and Kate Winslet indulge our Hollywood fantasies.

The 81st Annual Academy Awards was a night of inspirational acceptance speeches. This year, Hugh Jackman introduced the show with a surprising musical entrance. The “X-Men” and “Australia” star was surprisingly charming and a decent singer. This year the Oscars were set up a little differently, with a glimmering stage setup and presentation. Emotions ran high as actors were introduced by previous Academy Award winners for the best supporting and best actor categories. But the Oscar’s surprises were not from the musical events, hosting, or presentation, they were from the award nominees.
This year’s 81 Annual Academy Awards was one of the toughest years for actors to win an Oscar. With movies like “Milk,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Doubt,” “Changeling” and many more on the nominee list, races were tight.

The Academy nominated five movies for Best-Picture Honors this year. “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Frost/Nixon” were crowd favorites but there could have been an underdog win by “Milk” or “The Reader.” One of the most interesting categories this year was Best Supporting Actor. With Heath Ledger nominated for “ The Dark Knight,” nobody else really stood a chance.
The two most mentioned movies were “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” No surprise when “Slumdog Millionaire” won eight Oscars including Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Directing and Film Editing. Director Danny Boyle was the crowd favorite for Best Director. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” won three of the thirteen categories it was nominated in. The most debated category was the Best Supporting Actor category.

Robert Downey Jr. made his way into the nominee list for his unique role in “Tropic Thunder.” Josh Brolin for “Milk,” Michael Shannon for “Revolutionary Road,” along with Phillip Seymour Hoffman for “Doubt” were also nominated. Many felt that Heath Ledger should win and others felt that he would get the pity vote.

Whatever the case, Ledger won for his performance a sadistic Joker in “The Dark Knight.” “The Dark Knight” also received an Oscar for sound editing. And unexpected nominee for the best supporting actress category, Penelope Cruz won for her role in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

For best actor and actress, Sean Penn and Kate Winselt deservingly won for their excellent work in “Milk” and “The Reader,” respectively. Mikey Rourke was predicted to win for his performance in “The Wrestler,” but Academy voters felt otherwise. Predicting this year’s best actress category was extremely difficult because  Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Angelina Jolie and Melissa Leo all had incredible performances in 2008.

There were many debates over who would win but the majority came to the conclusion that Kate Winslet would take home the Oscar. However, many felt that Anne Hathaway’s performance in “Rachel Getting Married” was far more distinct.

The Oscars come with excitement but also frustration. For instance, the number of times “High School Musical” was mentioned, and the fact that Zach Efron got more attention than needed because he wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar. Along with the commercials every five seconds.

And there are always disappointments with movies that don’t win any Oscars. “Doubt,” “Frost/Nixon,” and “Changeling” were nominated in several categories but received no recognition by the Academy. All three movies were endearing and unique, yet will only ever be nominees in the history of the Academy Awards.

But through the tiny irritations, the 81 Academy Awards was comedic and inspirational. From Beyonce’s sparkling performance to Sean Penn’s reflecting acceptance speech, the Oscars were emotionally draining.

But in the end, the night is dedicated to the accomplishments for the respected and valued nominees in the film industry.