The 89th Annual Academy Awards ceremony celebrates the film industry's best and biggest in cinema for the year 2016 with host Jimmy Kimmel, including awards for best actors, directors, songs, original screenplays and motion picture.
Nicole Kidman had at one point been set to play Kate Winslet's Oscar winning role of Hanna Schmitz in The Reader (2008), but passed on the part due to pregnancy. Also, Marion Cotillard had been briefly considered for the role of Hanna before Winslet was cast. Ironically, both Kidman and Cotillard were two of the presenters who awarded Best Actress winner Winslet her Oscar trophy. See more »
Andrew Stanton - Winner: Best Animated Film:
My producers Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins should really be up here to accept this with me. It's been such an inspiration to spend time with a character who so tenaciously struggles to find the beauty in everything that he sees. It's a noble aspiration to have in times like these. I dearly want to thank everyone that's been on this film: the cast, the crew, everybody at Disney and Pixar Studios. I have to single out Ed Catmull, John Lasseter and Steve Jobs for creating a cinematic safe haven ...
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I'm really impressed with this year's Oscars ceremony. I scored a whopping 2.5 GPA in Hollywire's own Oscars contest, but even though my predictions were generally not exactly on the mark, I still found the ceremony to be more interesting and well-planned than previous years. Hugh Jackman took on hosting duties for the first time, but it was the overall outline of the entire show that makes it stand apart from some less impressive previous ceremonies. I wasn't thrilled with Joh Stewart as the host, mostly because his style of humor makes it impossible for him to congratulate someone on their achievement without sounding sarcastic. Jackman is a tremendous talent, but I think the best thing about his hosting performance is that he disappeared periodically. Even with such a great screen presence, there's no reason to have one person monopolizing the entire show, right?
And by the way, I was highly impressed with the two musical numbers that Hugh performed. He starts with an amusing comment on the global financial crisis by performing an amazingly well-rehearsed song and dance using props made out of cardboard and other household supplies, explaining that due to budget cuts he had to plan the whole thing in his garage. I also loved the new way of introducing the nominees, by having five previous winners walk to the center of the stage and each one introduce one of this year's nominees. The introductory speeches, most importantly of all, have begun to lose that wooden sound that they have had so often in the past. I could never understand how they could take some of the most talented people in the industry and have them come out and make some stupid joke before introducing their category. I'm glad to see that we're moving past that!
Queen Latifah sang a beautiful song during the In Memoriam sequence, where we pay tribute to all of the people in show business that passed away in the last year. I was surprised at how many people we lost - from Charleton Heston and James Whitmore (who died earlier this month) to Anthony Minghella, Syndey Pollack and Paul Newman.
You may have noticed, however, the preposterous omission of Heath Ledger. How did that happen? He was one of the most talked about celebrities involved in this year's ceremony and he wasn't even included in the In Memoriam part of the show! What the hell happened? I realize he was included in last year's Oscar ceremony because he died before the show was broadcast, but he won an Academy Award for his performance in 2008! Doesn't that merit being remembered again?
Also noticeable was the lack of any overly long or politically touchy acceptance speeches. I was amazed at how gracious and classy every acceptance speech was. No one spoke for too long, no one had to be rushed off the stage by that damned orchestra, and no one used the opportunity to go into any kind of political tirade. It's clear that some people are going to be offended by some of the things that Sean Penn said in his acceptance speech for Best Actor, but he was talking about the intolerance of homosexuality that is all around us in modern American culture. It's political, yes, but at least that was what his entire performance was all about. Oh, and Bill Maher couldn't resist using the spotlight to try to sell his own unsuccessful documentary and make a political statement, but I guess we can't really expect anything different from him, right?
There were some surprises and some not so surprising wins. It was pretty much well-known that Slumdog Millionaire would win the Best Picture Oscar for some weeks before the show, due in no small part to its successes in other awards ceremonies, although it was for the same reason that Mickey Rourke was expected to receive the Best Actor Oscar, which instead went to Sean Penn for his performance in Milk.
I watched the Oscars assuming that The Reader was not as widely seen as many of the other nominees, so I wasn't expecting Kate Winslet to be recognized for her incredible performance in it. I put Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep ahead of her, although like so many other categories this year, it was an extremely difficult choice. Whatever your choices were for the winners in any category, based on the overall selection of nominees this year, it seems pretty clear to me that movies are getting better and better every year.
We had overtly political movies like Milk and Frost/Nixon that never generated any political disagreements or tasteless speeches, a Best Picture winner that won our hearts despite focusing on the poorest segment of a very foreign culture, a sadly overlooked analysis of our immigration policies and national security infrastructure in both The Visitor and Frozen River, and some wonderful but unconventional nominations in Robert Downey Jr. for his outstanding work in Tropic Thunder and a richly deserved Make-Up nomination for Hellboy II. The tribute to Jerry Lewis was also well-deserved and deeply moving.
Overall, the Oscars were just a huge success this year. The set was as stunning as ever, the performances were entertaining and meaningful, and the introductions were uniformly respectful and well-written. In particular, Robert DeNiro offered a particularly memorable introduction of Sean Penn near the end of the show. But more than anything else, the ceremony concentrated on our deep love of the movies, the power that they have on our lives in so many ways from simply entertaining us to generating meaningful soul-searching, and paying respect and tribute to the men and women of the entertainment industry for their performances past and present.
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