It was a film that nearly went straight to DVD, based on the Indian version of a Chris Tarrant TV show, but last night Slumdog Millionaire was a wholesale triumph at the 81st Academy Awards. Danny Boyle’s Mumbai tale took a grand total of eight Oscars including Best Film, Best Director, Best Song, Best Score and Best Adapted Screenplay. A good evening for Boyle and for the entire cast of the film (almost all of whom seemed to find their way on stage for the final win), leaving David Fincher’s Benjamin Button with just three technical awards, including a well-deserved win for Visual effects.

Milk managed to scoop not only the award for Best Original Screenplay but also bestow upon Sean Penn his second Oscar for Best Actor, which came as a big shock to Mickey Rourke (and me truth be told!), seemingly Rourke has just annoyed too many of his peers in his troubled past. Best Actress went to Kate Winslet for her good but hardly mind-blowing role as former Auschwitz guard Hanna Schmitz in Stephen Daldry’s The Reader (she should have won for Revolutionary Road!). Best Supporting Actress was taken by Penelope ‘irritating and over-rated’ Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona while Best Supporting Actor – in a move that surprised a grand total of zero people – went to Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight and was accepted on his behalf in suitably touching manner by his father, mother and sister.

However highlight of the night has to go to the key comedy moments, initially to be honest my heart sank when Stiller ambled out alongside the simply ravishing Portman (Audrey Hepburn Mk II) wearing a Joaquin Phoenix beard, glasses and ‘distracted’ attitude. A spoof on his Letterman chat show appearance, which could only have been seen by a couple of million people? Really?

But Stiller pulled it off, with a wonderfully committed piss-take of Phoenix, including the depositing of gum on the podium, and a beautifully-timed speech about Slumdog Millionaire being shot on a cellphone, followed by the belated introduction of said phone, which had Portman repressing laughter. If Night At The Museum 2 had this sort of edge, we’d be excited about it.

But that wasnt all, then came Seth Rogen and James Franco in a frankly under-whelming Pineapple Express sketch, but was then redeemed themselves somewhat with their live performance, with Rogen’s howling laughter at Franco’s clumsy pronunciation of the Oscar winner, Spielzeugland, easily the most natural and endearing moment of the night.

And finally special mention must go too host Hugh Jackman, he sang with great gusto, he danced with aplomb and, apart from the flubbing of one joke – a Sexiest Man quip aimed at Brad Pitt – he cracked wise with the best of ’em. I’m just not sure that the material particularly rewarded his efforts, from the clumsy opening montage (points for the ending, though: “I am Wooooooooooolverine!”) to the tribute to musicals, where none of the selected material really suited his booming voice (and he was competing with the god-awful Beyonce throughout). But he’s charismatic and talented as hell – if he’s given better songs next year and doesn’t disappear for long stretches again, I wouldn’t mind seeing him getting a second shot.

The full list of winners are…

Best Film
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Director
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – David Fincher
Frost/Nixon – Ron Howard
Milk – Gus Van Sant
The Reader – Stephen Daldry
Slumdog Millionaire – Danny Boyle

Actor In A Leading Role

The Visitor – Richard Jenkins
Frost/Nixon – Frank Langella
Milk – Sean Penn
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Brad Pitt
The Wrestler – Mickey Rourke

Actor In A Supporting Role
Milk – Josh Brolin
Tropic Thunder – Robert Downey Jr.
Doubt – Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Dark Knight – Heath Ledger
Revolutionary Road – Michael Shannon

Actress In A Leading Role
Rachel Getting Married – Anne Hathaway
Changeling – Angelina Jolie
Frozen River – Melissa Leo
Doubt – Meryl Streep
The Reader – Kate Winslet

Actress In A Supporting Role
Doubt – Amy Adams
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Penélope Cruz
Doubt – Viola Davis
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Taraji P. Henson
The Wrestler – Marisa Tomei

Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Eric Roth, Robin Swicord
Doubt – John Patrick Shanley
Frost/Nixon – Peter Morgan
The Reader – David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire – Simon Beaufoy

Original Screenplay
Frozen River – Courtney Hunt
Happy-Go-Lucky – Mike Leigh
In Bruges – Martin McDonagh
Milk – Dustin Lance Black
WALL-E – Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter

Animated Feature
Bolt
Kung Fu Panda
WALL-E

Art Direction
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Duchess
Revolutionary Road

Cinematography
Changeling
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Costume Design
Australia
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess
Milk
Revolutionary Road

Documentary Feature
The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
Encounters at the End of the World
The Garden
Man on Wire
Trouble the Water

Documentary Short
The Conscience of Nhem En
The Final Inch
Smile Pinki
The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306

Editing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Frost/Nixon
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Foreign Language Film
The Baader Meinhof Complex
The Class
Departures
Revanche
Waltz with Bashir

Makeup
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Original Score
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Alexandre Desplat
Defiance – James Newton Howard
Milk – Danny Elfman
Slumdog Millionaire – A.R. Rahman
WALL-E – Thomas Newman

Original Song
WALL-E – “Down to Earth”
Slumdog Millionaire – “Jai Ho”
Slumdog Millionaire – “O Saya”

Sound Editing
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL-E
Wanted

Sound Mixing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
WALL-E
Wanted

Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man

Animated Short
La Maison de Petits Cubes
Lavatory – Lovestory
Oktapodi
Presto
This Way Up

Live Action Short
Auf der Strecke (On the Line)
Manon on the Asphalt
New Boy
The Pig
Spielzeugland (Toyland)

P.S. I still maintain it’s a trvesty that Changeling was barely recognised, or more pertinantly The Dark Knight! Ahh well we all know in our minds who the ‘real’ winners are…

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