A night of gowns, glamour and gold

By Jake Verterano
February 26, 2009

Megan Pellegrino

Hollywood’s finest took the red carpet for the 81st annual Academy Awards on Feb. 22.

The event, more commonly known as the Oscars, is held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

The awards represent the excellence of professionals in the film industry for their work during the year.

Directors, actors and writers are just some of the groups recognized by the prestigious award.

“Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk” and “The Reader” were the films granted the honor of being in the Best Picture category for this year.

The Academy chose “Slumdog Millionaire” as the big winner.

“I wasn’t really surprised ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ won,” Daniel DiPasquale, junior business major, said. “The film has been generating a lot of attention and was a shoe-in for an Oscar.”

Sean Penn accepted the Best Actor in a Leading Role award for his portrayal of Harvey Milk in “Milk.”

Penn made a strong statement in his acceptance speech against those who voted for Proposition 8 in California.

The other nominees included Mickey Rourke, Brad Pitt, Leeroy Jenkins and Frank Langella.

“It was a pretty emotional moment,” Jacqueline Marciano, junior business major, said.

Kate Winslet finally won the big Best Actress award for acting in “The Reader.” The Best Actress in a Leading Role winner beat out Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep and Melissa Leo.

“It’s about time she won an Oscar,” Meghan Sullivan, junior education major, said. “She’s unbelievably talented.”

In one of the most anticipated awards of the night, the late Heath Ledger won the Oscar for Best Acor in a Supporting Role for his role as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

Josh Brolin, Robert Downey Jr., Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michael Shannon were the other front runners for the award.

“If I wasn’t around so many people, I would have cried after Ledger won,” Carolyn Sweeney, junior education major at St. Joseph’s University of Long Island, said.

With a selection ranging from a stripper to a nun in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category, no one was really sure who would win.

In the end, it would be Penélope Cruz beating out fellow actresses Amy Adams, Marisa Tomei, Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson for her performance in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

“Cruz is amazing in ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona,'” Lindsay Buckley, junior education major, said. “See the film before chugging the haterade.”

Other big winners of the night included “Wall-E” for Best Animated Film, “Milk” for Best Original Screenplay and “Slumdog Millionaire” for Best Directing.

This year, the stage was the real star of the program.

It was adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals that formed a curtain across the stage at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, Calif.

An entirely new production team was hired to change up the event this year.

The orchestra played various movie themes including “Moon River” and “Lawrence of Arabia” to some newer modernized beats.

Host Hugh Jackman opened up the show with a musical tribute to the biggest movies of the year.

The performance included an “impromptu” duet with nominee Anne Hathaway.

The “Wolverine” star also performed a tribute to musicals with Beyonce, Zac Effron, Vanessa Hudgens, Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried.

“Grease,” “Hairspray,” “Chicago” and “Moulin Rouge” were just some of the musicals highlighted.

The presenters were also granted the ability to show much more personality with unique parings such as Tina Fey and Steve Martin.

All of the acting awards were presented by former winners of the respective awards, including a speech highlighting the hard work of each nominee.

Besides the acceptance speeches, some of the more emotional moments of the night included a video showing the contributions Jerry Lewis has performed for children with muscular dystrophy.

He was the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the event.

The ceremony took a break from celebrating the people who have won and took a look at the talent that was lost over the past year.

Queen Latifah performed “I’ll Be Seeing You” as a in memorandum video package played.

A video yearbook was also shown to highlight some of the best films of the year. Some of the categories highlighted in the yearbook included animated films and love stories.

Films that were not granted the Oscar nomination got their chance to shine in this moment.

With awards given to films, actors, directors, crew members and just about anyone involved in the film industry, it was truly entertainment’s night.

Everyone was celebrated for their hard work throughout the year.

Cruz said it best when she said in her acceptance speech, “art is one thing that brings all of us together.”

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Jake Verterano

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