'Slumdog Millionaire' dominates Oscars with 8 awards
Slumdog Millionaire, a joyous story of enduring love and unexpected riches among the lower castes of India, took home the Oscar for best picture at last night's 81st annual Academy Awards, capping an unlikely awards season for a movie that barely got released in this country.
The movie, which was picked up at the last minute by Fox Searchlight Pictures, dominated the awards, winning eight of the nine categories in which it was nominated (its only loss came in the sound editing category). In addition to best picture, the movie's awards included best director for Danny Boyle, best adapted screenplay, best original score and best original song for "Jai Ho."
On her sixth try, Kate Winslet finally won her Oscar, taking home the best actress prize for the Holocaust drama The Reader. And Sean Penn took home his second best actor Oscar, for playing gay-rights icon Harvey Milk in Milk. Although Mickey Rourke may have been the sentimental favorite, for his surprising comeback performance in The Wrestler, Penn's performance proved too strong and charismatic for Oscar voters to resist.
Earlier in the evening, Heath Ledger and Penelope Cruz made history in taking the awards for best supporting actor and actress.
Ledger, who was perhaps the evening's most prohibitive favorite, won only the second acting Oscar ever given posthumously. Cruz's win represented the first for a Spanish actress.
The expected Oscar showdown between Slumdog Millionaire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button played out through the early evening; at the two-hour mark, each film had won three Oscars. But other films got to enjoy the spotlight as well.
For the second straight year, a movie from Pixar studios won the animated feature Oscar. The winner last night was WALL-E, the adventure of an anthropomorphic trash compactor left behind as the last occupant of an ecologically devastated Earth with only a cockroach and a VHS of the movie Hello, Dolly! to keep him company.
This also proved to be a good year at the Oscars for Japan, as films from that country won for foreign language film (director Yojiro Takita's Departures) and animated short (director Kunio Kato's La Maison en Petits Cubes).
The evening's first Oscar, for best supporting actress, was presented by a team of five previous winners in that category: Eva Marie Saint, Goldie Hawn, Whoopi Goldberg, Anjelica Huston and Tilda Swinton. Each nominee was afforded a short vocal tribute.
Even before last night's ceremony, Slumdog Millionaire was the talk of the town. A group of youngsters who acted in the film, all amateurs found on location in Mumbai, were brought to Hollywood, at least in part to answer charges that they had been exploited and underpaid by the filmmakers. The kids proved the hit of the red carpet.
Other Oscars went to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (visual effects, art direction, makeup), Slumdog Millionaire (cinematography, sound mixing, film editing), The Duchess (costume design) and The Dark Knight (sound editing).
The feature-length documentary Oscar went to James Marsh and Simon Chinn's Man on Wire, the story of French tightrope walker Philippe Petit's 1974 walk between the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York.