81st Annual Academy Awards Results and Commentary (2009)

  • Date of Ceremony: Sunday, February 22, 2009
  • For films released in: 2008
  • Host(s): Hugh Jackman (video)
Other years:

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Welcome to Digital Hit Entertainment’s coverage of the 81st Annual Academy Award results.

8:28 PM

We’re just two minutes away from Hollywood’s biggest night…

8:30 PM

Hugh Jackman takes to the stage. He says the Academy likes to salute range and since he’s an Australian who played an Australian in a movie called “Australia”, he’s hosting. He then launches into a musical number saluting the nominees, which includes Anne Hathaway playing Richard Nixon. He gets a standing ovation at the end.

8:40 PM

Jackman tells Mickey Rourke, “We’re on a 7 second delay…if you should win, we’re switching to 20 minutes.”

8:41 PM

After Hugh talks to Meryl Streep, we see a montage of winning actresses.

8:42 PM

Eva Marie Saint, Whoopi Goldberg, Tilda Swinton, Goldie Hawn and Anjelica Huston stroll out to present Best Supporting Actress. The women take turns announcing the nominees and their special characteristics. So, this is one of the changes the producers were hinting at. The mini-reviews of their work appears to move the nominees. And the Oscar goes to Penelope Cruz.

“This is not going to be 45 seconds, I can say that right now. Has anybody ever fainted here? Because I might be the first one. Thank you so much to the Academy. I want to share this with my fellow nominees and with the amazing ensemble of actors that I had the privilege to work with in this movie. Thank you, Woody, for trusting me with this beautiful character. Thank for you having written over all these years some of the greatest characters for women. And I cannot talk about great female characters without thanking my friend Pedro Almodvar for having made me part of so many of his adventures. Thank you, Bigas Luna, Fernando Trueba, for giving me my first movies. Thank you, Harvey Weinstein. I wanted to dedicate this to my parents and to my brother and sister, to my friend Robert Garlock, who is not with us anymore, and to everyone who has helped me from the beginning and you know who you are and I thank you from my heart. I grew up in a place called Alcobendas, where this was not a very realistic dream. And I, always on the night of the Academy Awards, I stay up to watch the show and I always felt that this was, this ceremony was a moment of unity for the world because art, in any form, is and has been and will always be our universal language and we should do everything we can, everything we can, to protect its survival.” – Penelope Cruz

8:53 PM

Tina Fey and Steve Martin narrate their entrance as they prepare to present the Academy Award for Original Screenplay. And the Oscar goes to Dustin Lance Black for Milk.

“Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. And, um, Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story. When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married. I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk. “ – Dustin Lance Black

8:58 PM

Tina and Steve now present Adapted Screenplay. And the Oscar goes to Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire.

“Thank you very much indeed. There are certain places in the universe you never imagine standing. For me, it’s the moon, the South Pole, the Miss World podium and here. It’s a tremendous honor, so thank you to the Academy. I certainly wouldn’t be standing here tonight without Vikas Swarup, who wrote the book, without which none of Slumdog would ever have happened. So thank you, Vikas. “ – Simon Beaufoy

9:03 PM

Jennifer Aniston and Jack Black are out next. During their schtick, the camera cuts to a smiling Angelina Jolie. We then see a montage of the past year’s animated films. The pair then present Best Animated Feature. And the Oscar goes to WALLE. Andrew Stanton accepts.

“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 at 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 where only a film like WALL-E could be made. To my wife Julie, my kids Ben and Audrey, I love you so much, and I guess I’d be remiss if I did not thank my high school drama teacher Phil Perry for 28 years ago casting me as Barnaby in “Hello, Dolly!.” Creative seeds are sown in the oddest of places so, uh, thank you so much to the Academy for this. “ – Andrew Stanton

9:08 PM

Black and Aniston head back to the podium to present Animated Short Film. And the Oscar goes to La Maison en Petits Cubes. Kunio Kato cracks the audience up as he ends his speech with “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.”

“So heavy. Thank you very much. Thank you, my supporters. Thank you, all my staff. Thank you, my producer. Thank you, Academy. Thank you, animation. Thank you my company, Robot. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.” – Kunio Kato

9:15 PM

Hugh Jackman talks about the creative process that goes behind designing movies, then Daniel Craig and Sarah Jessica Parker talk about Art Direction. And the Oscar goes to Donald Graham Burt [Art Direction] and Victor J. Zolfo [Set Decoration] for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

“Wow. We’d like to thank the Academy for this wonderful honor. We first and foremost want to thank our crews that we had in our art departments, and those crews were in New Orleans, in Montreal, in St. Thomas, and here in Los Angeles. We want to thank our producers, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and my dear friend of many years, Cen Chaffin. And I said at another awards ceremony that our producers were great because they did what every producer should ever do and that is leave us alone. I want to recognize one person who’s been very special to me over these last few years and somebody that I just think is a brilliant director and even more so a wonderful human being, and that’s my friend David Fincher. And I want to recognize him because I think he did so much to make this movie so special. And this movie means so much to me and I want him to know that.” – Donald Graham Burt

Sarah Jessica and Daniel then continue, presenting Costume Design. And the Oscar goes to Michael O’Connor for The Duchess.

“I’d like to thank some individuals, please. Gordon Harmer, Anna Kot, Luan Placks, Ann Maskrey, Anthony Brookman, Sarah Touaibi. I’d also like to thank my agent Michelle Arnold, who is a lovely lady, she got me an interview with these people. And Gaby Tana, Saul Dibb and Michael Kuhn, stuck their neck out to get me this job. I apparently was the risk. And I think it’s paid off now, so I’m glad about that. And most importantly I’d like to thank the cast because, you know, working with such a great cast, everyone was with me. Um, so quickly, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, Ralph Fiennes and Keira Knightley, you are one classy lady. Thank you so much. “ – Michael O’Connor

The pair continue to present Best Makeup. And the Oscar goes to Greg Cannom for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

“Thank you. I want to thank the Academy, Paramount, Warner Bros. I share this with Colleen Callaghan, who should be up here with me, “Hi.” Makeup: Jean Black, Fionagh Cush, Elaine Offers. Special makeup: Miles Teves, Brian Sipe, Will Huff, Todd Tucker, Harvey Lowry, Mark Jacszyn, Alexei O’Brien, Mark Nieman, Chris Gallaher, Art, Martin, Helen Cohen. Hair: Susan Kalinowski and Natascha, Favian Wigs. Our fantastic director David Fincher, Cen Chaffin, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Sara Spring, Jim Davidson, Bob Wagner, Daniel Stillman, and of course, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji Henson, Jason Flemyng, Tilda Swinton, M. Ali, Jared Harris, and especially New Orleans. Thank you. “ – Greg Cannom

9:25 PM

Amanda Seyfried and Robert Pattinson are paired up to present a montage of romance in the year’s movies.

9:31 PM

Hugh Jackman continues the show’s narrative theme as he talks about cinematography. Natalie Portman and a bearded Ben Stiller, taking off Joaquin Phoenix, get ready to present the Oscar for Cinematography. And the Oscar goes to Anthony Dod Mantle for Slumdog Millionaire.

“I could thank thousands of people. I can’t do it. I, of course, have to thank the Academy. I’m very honored with this beautiful thing. Everybody who has worked with me on this film, all over this room, especially in this little corner here, the blue corner. And all the people that’ve worked on all the films I’ve done for the last 20 years, they’re with me tonight. I’ll try and thank you every day from now on. That’s my policy. “ – Anthony Dod Mantle

9:38 PM

Jessica Biel, who hosted the Scientific and Technical Awards, pays tribute to Ed Catmull.

9:42 PM

We see a Judd Apatow-produced montage about comedy presented by James Franco and Seth Rogen.

9:45 PM

James Franco, Seth Rogen and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski are here to present Live Action Short. And the Oscar goes to Spielzeugland (Toyland).

“This is almost a surreal moment for me, ‘cause I grew up in East Germany, so behind the wall. So West Germany was far away from me. Hollywood, that’s really far away, and the Oscar now, it’s incredible. And I thank the Academy. I directed this movie. Unfortunately, I produced it as well, so I spent four years of my life on this fourteen-minute movie and it was a story I really wanted to tell.” – Jochen Alexander Freydank

9:52 PM

Hugh’s back out in tails. “Change has finally come. Mamma Mia! has outsold Titanic in the UK. Musicals are back.” He launches into a musical number created by Baz Luhrmann, shortly joined by Beyonce, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron.

10:01 PM

We see a montage of Best Supporting Actors before Christoper Walken, Kevin Kline, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alan Arkin and Joel Grey announce the nominees. And the Oscar goes to Heath Ledger. His father, mother and sister accept on behalf of the late actor.

“First of all, I have to say this is ever so humbling. Just being amongst such wonderful people, such a wonderful industry. Firstly, I’d like to thank the Academy for recognizing our son’s amazing work, Warner Bros. and Christopher Nolan in particular, for allowing Heath the creative license to develop and explore this crazy Joker character. To Steve Alexander, Heath’s mentor, special friend and agent for 10 years. We love you, Steve. This award tonight would’ve humbly validated Heath’s quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers, within an industry he so loved. Thank you. “ – Kim Ledger, Heath’s father

10:11 PM

We now see a piece discussing the art of the documentary. Religulous’s Bill Maher presents Best Documentary Feature. And the Oscar goes to Man on Wire.

“The shortest speech in Oscar history: “Yes!” But I always the break the rule, I break my own rules very quickly and of course this film would have not been made without my Kathy. And also, Werner, I always carry the coin you gave me. And you were right. We won. So now it’s time to thank the Academy for believing in magic. “ – Philippe Petit

Maher then presents Best Documentary Short Subject. And the Oscar goes to Smile Pinki.

“Wow! Oh, to be in a room with all this talent. Lucky me, and to tell stories for a living, lucky me. And to have a family and friends who love me and my movies totally unconditionally. Documentary, like all filmmaking, is a complete team sport, and I’d like to thank my editor Purcell Carson, cinematographers Nick Doob and Jon Shenk, field producer Nandini Rajwade and from HBO Sheila Nevins and Lisa Heller. The same magic that happens in our film happens every day for children with clefts all around the world because of a terrific organization called the Smile Train. But most importantly for documentary filmmakers it’s our subjects. The incredible Dr. Subodh and his team, Ghutaru Chauhan and our heroine Pinki Kumari. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me” – Megan Mylan

10:22 PM

Continuing the narrative theme of the show, Jackman says the film is now finished and we move on to post-production. Will Smith is now presenting Best Visual Effects. And the Oscar goes to Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

“Oh my God. On behalf of myself, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron, I’d like to thank the Academy for this incredible honor. I’d also like to thank Edson Williams and his team at Lola Visual Effects and Nathan McGuinness and his team at Asylum as well as all the other visual effects teams that worked so hard on this film. I’d like to thank our amazing team at Digital Domain, my mentor Ed Ulbrich, my wonderful producer Lisa Beroud, the woman who is my biggest supporter, my wife Roma, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Cen Chaffin, for trusting that we could actually pull this off. Brad Pitt for an amazing performance. And of course David Fincher for giving us all the opportunity to work on this film. To my kids, Cole and Nicolette, I’d just like to say, “Work hard, do good work and never give up.” Thank you. “ – Eric Barba

Will now presents the nominees for Sound Editing. And the Oscar goes to Richard King for The Dark Knight.

“As a kid growing up in suburban Florida, I was obsessed by movies and Hollywood seemed like it was a million miles away. I never thought that I would be here, but I’m so happy to be and thrilled to be a part of the creative industry that going to work is fun every day. And I’d like to thank my crew, picture editor Lee Smith, mixers Lora Hirschberg and Gary Rizzo, producers Emma Thomas, Chuck Roven and Christopher Nolan, who was very fun to work with and very detail-oriented, just made going to work a joy, and thank you very much, Chris. Thank you to the Academy.” – Richard King

Will moves onto the Sound Mixing category. And the Oscar goes to Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty for Slumdog Millionaire.

“This is unbelievable. We can’t believe this. Ladies and gentlemen… sorry… I share the stage with two magicians, you know, who created the very ordinary sounds of Bombay, the cacophony of Bombay, into a soul-stirring, artful resonance called Slumdog Millionaire. I come from a country and a civilization that’s given the universal word. That word is preceded by silence, followed by more silence. That word is “Om.” So I dedicate this award to my country. Thank you, Academy, this is not just a sound award, this is history being handed over to me. My sincere and deepest gratitude to my teachers, Danny Boyle, Christian Colson, Paul Ritchie, Pravesh… and everybody who has contributed to this film, Glenn Freemantle and all the sound mixers. I dedicate this to you guys. Thank you, Academy. Thank you very much. “ – Resul Pookutty

Okay, Will Smith is making overtime pay as he prepares to present yet another award, Film Editing. And the Oscar goes to Chris Dickens for Slumdog Millionaire.

“Thank you so much for this. Thank you everyone who voted for me. This is incredible. I just want to say I had a fantastic time working on this film. It was, um, I really didn’t want it to end. I had a wonderful time in India and so I’d like to thank my crew in India firstly. That was Vivek, Udayan, Anuradha, they’re all fantastic. And also in England, Tina and Tom, who worked really hard in the editing with us to get the film finished. And also my family, my sisters Sally, Ally, Lizzy, my parents, my wife Clio who sort of put up with all the hours I was working, disappearing. And, um, but especially to Danny, who’s over there, Danny and Christian and Simon and Anthony for just producing such great material. You know, fantastic stuff to work with. So, I, um, thank you and, um, yeah, you really inspired me. I’m really proud. Thank you. “ – Chris Dickens

10:41 PM

Eddie Murphy presents the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Jerry Lewis for his charitable work. He gets a standing ovation as he strolls out to accept. A moved Lewis makes a short heartfelt speech.

“For most of my life, I thought that doing good for someone didn’t mean you would receive commendation for that act of kindness, at least until now. This award touches my heart and the very depth of my soul because of who the award is from and those who will benefit. The humility I feel is staggering and I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I thank you. I thank the Academy and to all of you people from the movie business. It’s such a joy being a part of you and everything you do. Thank you and good night. “ – Jerry Lewis

10:50 PM

Hugh talks about the music in movies as a medley of scores is played.

10:53 PM

Zac Efron and the lovely Alicia Keys present the Academy Award for Original Score. And the Oscar goes to A.R. Rahman for Slumdog Millionaire. (Yes, they’re having a great night, just in case you were wondering.)

“Before coming, I was excited and terrified. The last time I felt like that was during my marriage. There’s a dialogue from a Hindi film called “Mere paas ma hai,” which means “I have nothing but I have a mother,” so mother’s here, her blessings are there with me. I am grateful for her to have come all the way. And I want to thank the Academy for being so kind, all the jury members. I want to thank Sam Schwartz, I/D PR, all the crew of Slumdog, Mr. Gulzar, Raqueeb Alam, Blaaze, my musicians in Chennai and Mumbai. And I want to tell something in Tamil, which says, which I normally say after every award which is… “God is great.” Thank you.” – A.R. Rahman

Efron and Keys now present a medley of the Original Song nominees featuring performances by A.R. Rahman and John Legend. And the Oscar goes to A.R. Rahman and Gulzar for Slumdog Millionaire’s “Jai Ho”.

“The essence of the film which is about optimism and the power of hope in the lives, and all my life I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I’m here. God bless.” – A.R. Rahman

11:05 PM

Liam Neeson and Freida Pinto are teamed up tonight to present Foreign Language Film. And the Oscar goes to Japan’s Departures.

11:10 PM

Queen Latifah presents this year’s In Memoriam segment as she sings “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

11:17 PM

Hugh Jackman pays tribute to Academy President Sid Ganis and then introduces Reese Witherspoon, who is tasked with presenting Best Director. And the Oscar goes to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.

“My kids are too old to remember this now, but when they were much younger, I swore to them that if this miracle ever happened that I would receive it in the spirit of Tigger from “Winnie-the-Pooh” and that’s what that was. You’ve been so generous to us this evening and I wanted to thank you for that and also for an extraordinary, what a beautiful show you’ve done. I don’t know what it looks like on television, everybody, but in the room, it’s bloody wonderful, really. So, well done, everyone. Just to make, my, um, Grace, Gabriel and Caitlin, my kids, and their wonderful mom. Gail, thank you so much for letting me be Tigger for so long. And to my dad, Frank, and to my sisters Maria and Bernadette and everybody in St. Mary’s Social Club in Radcliffe. Big, big, big shout-out to you. I’ve got to thank Tessa Ross. I’ve got to thank everybody at Celador. I’ve got to thank Franois and Cameron at Path. I’ve got to thank everybody at Warner Bros. for having the great grace to pass the film on to the extraordinary guy at Fox Searchlight, Peter Rice, and all his team. Thank you so much. Peter, wherever you are, thank you so much for bringing all our cast and crew here, or as many of them as we could do. The film is an absolute tribute to them. There’s one guy I should mention, we’ve mentioned a lot of people. I forgot a guy. The guy who choreographed the dance at the end of the film. He’s called Longiness. And I forgot him off the credits. And I only found out about it two weeks ago. I’m an idiot and I apologize from the bottom of my heart, Longiness. Thank you so much. Finally, just to say to Mumbai, “Unending, inseparable, unborn.” All of you who’ve helped us make the film and all of you of those of you who didn’t, thank you so much. You dwarf even this guy (gesturing to the statuette). Thank you very much indeed. “ – Danny Boyle

11:25 PM

We see a montage of Best Actress winners and then Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Marion Cotillard, Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman come out to present the award. And the Oscar goes to Kate Winslet for The Reader.

“Okay, that fainting thing, Penelope. I’d be lying if I hadn’t made a version of this speech before, I think I was probably eight years old and staring into the bathroom mirror. And this (holding up her statuette) would’ve been a shampoo bottle. Well, it’s not a shampoo bottle now! I feel very fortunate to have made it all the way from there to here. And I’d like to thank some of the people along the way who had faith in me, my friends and my family, especially my mum and dad, who are in this room somewhere. Dad, whistle or something, ‘cause then I’ll know where you are. (He whistles.) Yeah! (Waving to him.) I love you. I’d also like to thank Hylda Queally, Dallas Smith and the late, much loved, much missed Robert Garlock. And from Peter Jackson and Emma Thompson to my very own Sam and Stephen Daldry. I’m very lucky to have been given Hanna Schmitz by Bernhard Schlink and David Hare and Stephen and working with you is an experience I will never forget. There was no division between the cast and the crew on this film, and that’s what made it so special. So, to have been surrounded by a remarkable group of people who provided an unbroken chain of support from David Kross to Ralph Fiennes, Bruno Ganz, Lena Olin, from hair and makeup to cinematography, from the art department to the ADs, and from New York to Berlin. And I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband and two beautiful children who let me do what I love and who love me just the way that I am. Anthony and Sydney, this is for you. This is for both of you. And I want to acknowledge my fellow nominees, these goddesses. I think we all can’t believe we’re in a category with Meryl Streep at all. I’m sorry, Meryl, but you have to just suck that up! And, just to the Academy, thank you so much, my God! Thank you! “ – Kate Winslet

11:36 PM

Okay, well the producers are past the 3 hour mark as we start a montage of Best Actor winners. Then Robert De Niro, Adrien Brody, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Douglas come out to present the award. And the Oscar goes to Sean Penn for Milk.

“Thank you. Thank you. You commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns. I did not expect this, but I, and I want it to be very clear, that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me often. But I am touched by the appreciation and I hoped for it enough that I did want to scribble down, so I had the names in case you were commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns, and so I want to thank my best friend, Sata Matsuzawa. My circle of long-time support, Mara, Brian, Barry and Bob. The great Cleve Jones. Our wonderful writer, Lance Black. Producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks. And particularly, as all, as actors know, our director either has the patience, talent and restraint to grant us a voice or they don’t, and it goes from the beginning of the meeting, through the cutting room. And there is no finer hands to be in than Gus Van Sant. And finally, for those, two last finallies, for those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone. And there are, and there are, these last two things. I’m very, very proud to live in a country that is willing to elect an elegant man president and a country who, for all its toughness, creates courageous artists. And this is in great due respect to all the nominees, but courageous artists, who despite a sensitivity that sometimes has brought enormous challenge, Mickey Rourke rises again and he is my brother. Thank you all very much. “ – Sean Penn

11:47 PM

Steven Spielberg takes to the stage now to present Best Picture. And the Oscar goes to Slumdog Millionaire. Producer Christian Colson accepts.

“Thank you so much to the Academy. As you can see, our film was a collaboration between hundreds of people. I’m so happy that so many of them could be with us here tonight to share this moment. Together, we’ve been on an extraordinary, an extraordinary journey. When we started out, we had no stars, we had no power or muscle. We didn’t have enough money, really, to do what we wanted to do. But what we had was a script that inspired mad love in everyone who read it. We had a genius for a director. We had a cast and a crew who were unwavering in their commitment and whose talents are up on the screen for all of you to see. We had partners in Film4, in Celador, in Path and Fox Searchlight, who had the courage to support us. And we had a shared love for the extraordinary city of Mumbai, where we made the movie. Most of all, we had passion and we had belief, and our film shows that if you have those two things, truly anything is possible. I want to thank, on a personal note, my mum and my dad for all their love and support over the years. I want to thank my girl, Saskia Mulder, who is my partner in crime and the light in my life. And I want to thank all of you very much indeed. Thank you. “ – Christian Colson

11:55 PM

Hugh Jackman bids the audience goodnight.

Thanks for joining us. We also have a page of quotes from backstage.

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