81st Academy Awards — "Nerdies" for Best & Worst

Overall, a fun show. I was psyched I got all except two of my predictions right (missed on Best Sound Editing and Best Foreign Film). If you want just a list of winners, click here. Otherwise, read on for my awarding of the Nerdies for the show’s highlights:

hjackman_090222_kwinter_84979541Tackiest Self Promotion: I love Hugh Jackman and he did a fun, energetic job of hosting. I was smiling along as he performed his opening musical medley about nominated films. Sticking his head through the different Benjamin Button holes was game. But then he put on wrestling arm pads and inexplicably ended the number with the declaration: “I am Wolverine!” Huh? What does that have to do with anything? I know his movie is coming out May 1 but this was about last year’s nominated films and the mention was out of place. Wolverine is a Fox movie and ABC is owned by Disney so Jackman can’t even claim corporate pressure for the plug.

Most Blatant Lie: Jackman said to Mickey Rourke in the audience, “You look great.” Rourke had greasy hair and a silver tooth and looked like he hadn’t bathed in a week.

Luckiest First-Time Nominees: Viola Davis and Anne Hathaway. This year, producers had five previous winners from each acting category come out to crown the newest members of their club. Viola Davis had Eva Marie Saint pay tribute to her and Anne Hathaway had Shirley MacLaine gush about her talents. I would’ve soiled my dress if I were them. Hathaway looked as if she could barely contain herself, like a princess living out a fairy tale at Hollywood’s biggest ball.

pcruz-w-oscarBest Use for My High School Spanish: Many years ago, I took Espanol in school, thinking it would come in handy at some point in life. Finally, that moment arrived. When Penelope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress, the last part of her speech was in Spanish. My translating skills are a bit rusty but she said something like: “All the faithful people of Spain are sharing this moment with me right now and feel that this is also theirs, so I dedicate it to them. To all the actors from my country, thank you very much.”

smartin_tfey_090222_kwinter_84979513Funniest Presenting Duo: Steve Martin and Tina Fey, reading from a script as they made their entrance to present Best Original and Adapted Screenplay. Their comedic timing was perfect and they complimented each other well. Fey looked really pretty for a change (from her usual dull brown or black dresses), wearing a glittering silver gown showing off her curves.

Unfunniest Presenters Who Were Supposed to be Funny: Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black. Seriously, did you laugh even once? Angelina Jolie seemed to enjoy Black’s antics, though I suspect there was a different reason they  kept cutting to her and Brad while Black and Aniston were on stage.  

dlblackFirst Tearjerking Speech: Let me preface by saying these award shows never make me cry. I’m usually entertained and excited when my favorites win but cry? Never! Well, Dustin Lance Black changed that when he won for Best Original Screenplay. That adorable boy stood up there (he looked 19!), opened his heart to a billion watchers and spoke with such emotion and sincerity about the obstacles he’s encountered as a gay person that my eyes got wet. When he thanked his mom for loving him “even when there was pressure not to,” I thought, “How can anyone not love this boy?!” The amazing feat is he invoked religion and politics in his speech but managed to avoid grandstanding because he came from such a painful, personal place. Even if you haven’t seen Milk, that speech alone should give you an idea why he won a writing Oscar.

Most Irrelevant Thank You: When the Japanese Kunio Kato won Best Animated Short for La Maison en Petits Cubes, he started out succinctly thanking a bunch of people. It was a laundry list that wasn’t too exciting (granted, his English was limited). But then he ended his speech with, “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.” Hilarious. Who knew a cheesy Styx song would be referenced at the Oscars?

dc-sjpBest Advertisement for Makeup Artists: Daniel Craig. The dapper Bond star, who made a rare appearance at an awards show, presented Best Makeup (as well as Art Direction and Costume) with Sarah Jessica Parker. After she said, “We don’t have to tell you what a makeup artist does,” Craig quipped, “Just look at us.” Oh, yes, baby, I was looking at you all right. And drooling.

b-stiller-portmanParody That Came Too Late: Ben Stiller doing Joaquin Phoenix. When Stiller came out with Natalie Portman to present the Best Cinematography award, he sported the Unabomber beard Phoenix wore when he made his puzzling Letterman appearance recently. Stiller proceeded to act confused and incoherent, wandering around the stage. Unfortunately, this would’ve been a lot of funnier if he hadn’t been beaten to the punch by Frank Coraci presenting at the Independent Spirit Awards the day before. Click here to see the much funnier indie version.

phillip-petitBiggest Attention Whore: Phillip Petit, the subject of Best Documentary winner, Man on Wire. In the film, he was already desperate for attention (part of the reason why he walked a tight rope between the Twin Towers in 1974). Tonight, he did a magic trick, making a coin disappear, and balanced the Oscar on his chin, all within seconds at the podium. He did everything he could to keep the camera on him, like Tatiana on American Idol singing everything she could think of during Hollywood week so she wouldn’t be kicked off. 

Best Multi-Tasker: A.R. Rahman. Dude, he came out to sing “O Saya” and “Jai Ho” from Slumdog after he’d just won the Best Score award. That’s like having John Williams come out to sing along to his Star Wars theme. (“Star wars…Nothing but star wars…”)

Second Tearjerking Speech: Wrapping up his Best Song acceptance speech for “Jai Ho,” Rahman said, “All my life I’ve had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I’m here.” For some reason, that kicked me right in the gut and tears came up. It’s so simple yet profound. Why can’t the rest of the world figure that out?

So, what were the highlights for you? Do you want Hugh back next year? How’d you do in the Oscar pool? Post in the comments!



  • Reply
    February 23, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Wow, good job on your predictions. Or did you neglect to mention your temp job as an envelope stuffer at Pricewaterhouse?

    • Reply
      February 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm

      Hi Eddy,

      Ha! I wish I had a temp job at Pricewaterhouse during awards season!

      I think it helps with predictions when you’ve seen all the movies, which I try to do every year (hence, the nerd moniker). The gratifying thing for me about getting most of them correct wasn’t that I’d have bragging rights. I really contemplated the quality of the nominees and went with my gut instead of hype. So when the Academy agreed for the most part, I thought that maybe it’s not just a big popularity contest and that was cool.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    {Good one, Eddy!}

    PCN, Woohoo! It’s one thing to watch all the movies ~ it’s another to score correctly on all but two predictions! Damn … if only I was a betting girl. You are a very wise cookie – well done {not that I’m surprised}!

    As you know, I worship Hugh and thought overall he did a really fine and entertaining job. That said, I can be objective and I’m with you there on the ending to his opener. I didn’t get the Wolverine bit at all. He isn’t ‘up himself’ so I don’t feel it was done to hype his new movie {unless his agent or producer twisted his arm?} But if not that, why? Unless he was taking the Micky out of himself 🙂 Perhaps he was making fun of the public speculation as to why Wolverine was hosting and the stereotype? Oh well, a joke that has to be explained … never mind. I also found the big stage number overall entertaining, though musically the medley didn’t quite work for me in places. I chose to ignore that {medleys really are quite tough} and just enjoy the spectacle and costumes.

    Thanks for making me cry before breakfast {ok, a late breakfast} … your observations on Dustin Lance Black were very touching. A very special young man.

    One of my fave moments? Steve Martin re-introducing himself after the tumultuous applause for Tina Fey.

    And I had to wonder if Peter Gabriel felt some regrets that he chose not to perform when he saw what a wonderful time A. R. Rahman had! Man, how cool is he?!

    Looking forward to checking out your other Oscars’ posts shortly. Thanks again, PCN!

    • Reply
      February 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm


      It is my goal to always make you cry in your breakfast. Mission accomplished!

      Thanks for your very generous comments. I’m glad you can kinda see where I was coming from with the Hugh/Wolverine plug. I talked to some people and they didn’t agree with me at all (which is fine).

      Oh man, Rahman is one cool dude! I’m not a fan of musical medleys (or musical theater) but I enjoyed the world music spectacle of the Best Song medley with the Japanese taiko drummers, Indian dancers and South African choir. John Legend did okay but Gabriel would’ve been better.

      Did you enjoy how WALL*E found the Oscar in the dumpster and then tossed it? That was cute. I also liked how he was joined by Po, Bolt and those animals from Madagascar at the end of the animation montage. Our little guy wasn’t alone anymore!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    PCN, so did those who liked the Wolverine reference say Why? Maybe I’m thinking too hard about it …

    And yes, that animation montage was also one of my fave moments! It still didn’t make up for leaving WALL*E out of the Best Pic category, but the Oscar tossing was very cute, and it was a gorgeous touch to bring them all together at the end.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2009 at 5:27 pm

      My sister said she thought the Wolverine line was hilarious because it was irreverent, came out of the blue and showed he had a sense of humor about himself. I thought he had already shown that by saying how he was only hosting because he showed no acting range as an Australian playing an Australian in a movie called Australia.

      Obviously, comedy is subjective. Some people found it funny while it hit me wrong.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    I totally agree with your sister, PCN. I think that the main point of Jackman’s mention of Wolverine was to make a statement that…although he doesn’t get offerred the Phillip Seymour Hoffman Roles or Richard Jenkins roles, he is holdin’ on to the fictional character of Wolverine…thus the mocked exuberance he demonstrated. I also think that since this song and dance number was created in “his garage” it is supposed to play out like a child wrote it..off the cuff….RESULTING in the amateur set pieces and out of context lines/lyrics…

    • Reply
      February 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm

      You know, Harmony, now that you put it that way…OK, I can see that. He’s like a kid daydreaming in his garage about the Oscars and telling himself it’s okay if he never gets one because at least he’s Wolverine. That makes it much better for me because I am a huge Hugh fan.

      I just watched his Barbara Walters interview (DVR’d last night) and he gave her a lap dance! I almost lost consciousness like ShelleyP. It was dirrty!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    PCN, whatever it was, I’m sure there was at least some playful poking fun at himself in there. I’m positive he’d be happy to do that.

    Harmony, that’s also a great way of looking at it!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Ok, I’m praying that interview is already online somewhere, PCN. Off to search I go. After I get some chocolates.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm

      Go straight to ABC.com and you’ll see the Barbara Walters Special mid-page. Make sure you watch all the way ’til the end because he does it over the end credits. It’s ridiculous how nasty he was with her, gyrating and grinding his hips. And I mean that in a good way!

      Besides chocolate, make sure you also have an oxygen tank nearby.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Oh, thank you for the tip, PCN.

    But ABC, Boooooo … the clip isn’t available for viewing outside the US. I’ll have to use my imagination. Not a problem.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Great wrap up of the show. I too was annoyed by Ben Stiller…he has not been truly funny in years and I’m telling you, if I was one of the nominated DP’s waiting for him to finish his lame shtick, I woulda killed the dude. LAME!

    I’m also really hated the big Baz Luhrmann song and dance number…total time filler, and what really pissed me off was the fact that half of the songs they “celebrated” were never even nominated for Oscars! And that’s because, historically, they pick pretty lousy songs as winners! Just kind of annoying…

    Same goes with all the clip packages they kept cutting away to…I’m like, if that movie wasn’t nominated, you should not be able to feature it in a cheesy montage. “27 Dresses”? Please! To me that is straight up pandering to the younger crowd and more like something you’d see on the MTV Movie Awards, you know? And next up, Will Smith will announce the nominees for Best Kiss. Crazy!

    I’m still undecided about the strange induction ceremony thing with the past winners…it was kind of culty if you ask me. Like, welcome to the club, sister or brother…now drink the blood and live forever…CREEPY!

    But I did go back and watch all of those segments again, and I did kind of love them on second viewing…so, still not sure what I think…

    And love him or hate him, I gotta say Jackman did a pretty decent job overall. But as far as Beyonce goes, I’m with Etta James on that one…bitch going down! Yuck…so sick of her overexposed mug…

    • Reply
      February 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm

      Ha ha! If you’d strangled Ben Stiller on stage, that would’ve been entertaining!

      I couldn’t believe Baz Luhrmann directed that musical medley. My 7-year-old niece could’ve done a better job. Visually it was okay but the abrupt change between songs gave me whiplash. And I agree the song selection was strange and random. At the end, when Hugh cried, “The musical is back!” I thought, “I hope they include better numbers than that!”

      Your take on the induction ritual is hilarious. I never looked at it that way! I liked it cuz it was cool to see a legend welcome a younger actor into the club. But then when Marion C paid tribute to Kate Winslet, she was gushing like she was the fan and I realized that Kate has been around longer and was probably thinking, “How come you’re up there and I’m not?”

      I liked Hugh Jackman overall. I don’t hate Beyonce like you but if I hear her sing “At Last” one more time, I’m gonna call the cops and charge her with public disturbance.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Commenting on Yeti9000’s annoyance on the “clip packages” (ie 27 Dresses): First of all I didn’t think they did ENOUGH inclusion of non-nominated films…..keep in mind that the title of the montage clips was “YEAR in Animation” “YEAR in Comedy….” For instance, I thought that the romance/couples montage had TOO many Revolutionary Road/The Dark Knight etc……For the studios, talent, crew, and others who worked SO HARD on their movie that didn’t make the top five in each category this was a time for them to have 2 seconds. Keep in mind that the essence of the Academy Awards is to celebrate motion pictures. Although the BEST in motion pictures are honored, it is worthwhile to somewhat acknowledge other (unrecognized) movies’ hardwork. The Oscars are too much of an elitist club…I wish the montages were MORE open to other films unrecognized….

  • Reply
    February 24, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Don’t get me wrong, Harmony…I am totally with you on the elitism of the Academy. I guess what really bothers me the most about the clips is that the Academy has no problem showing footage from popular movies to keep viewers in their seats during their bloated telecast…but when it comes to nominations, they would never, in a million years, reward those same movies with even a nomination.

    I don’t write action movies, but as a comedy writer, that really chaps my hide. I think if you don’t have the nerve to nominate funny movies along with the over-serious pap you usually nominate, then I don’t think you should show clips from those movies. It just seems kinda hypocritical to me…

    But that said, I was glad to see Penelope Cruz win for a comedy and Heath Ledger for a comic book movie. Yay! 🙂

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