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(Review originally written at 26 February 2008)

"The 80th Annual Academy Awards" shall go down in history as the show that almost wasn't there and the year without any surprises. The evening was nothing too bad but it all was just so standard and also the winners themselves didn't really gave away any memorable speeches or moments.

While watching this I couldn't help wondering; How good would they show had been if there was still a writer's strike? Because of the writer's strike, this award show got almost narrowed done to an evening that would show montages from previous Academy Awards ceremonies and the winners being announced in between. It's obvious that they still implemented some of these montages in the actual show and to be honest, the montages were also the best moments during the evening. It showed all the previous movies that ever won for best picture and lots of winning actors and actresses as well as a couple of humorous montages such as one that paid homage to binoculars and one about waking up after having bad dreams.

When especially compared to other years, there were hardly any political jokes or statements being made. Not even a lot of Obama, Clinton or Bush references. Not by presenter Jon Stewart, nor by any of the award winners. Not even any Iraq references were being made, other then of course the nominated documentaries, focusing on Iraq.

Jon Stewart himself did a fair enough job as the evening's presenter. He had a couple of good fun moments but for most part of the evening he was just standing there filling up the gaps and announce the next categories. There was hardly any improvisation involved. Blame it on the writer's strike? Most likely yes, for also the award presenters themselves hardly said anything, funny, good or memorable.

All of the usual suspect were also present handing out the award, also no big surprises or anything memorable there. The only surprising thing perhaps there was Owen Wilson, who a couple of months ago attempted a suicide attempt. Guess he just wanted to show his face that he was still around and ready to make his Hollywood return. But also then again; what's the point of letting him present something if he isn't going to do anything funny? Basically all he did was entering the stage and said; the nominees are...and the winner is.

And as for the winners, well really were there any surprises? The only thing perhaps was Marion Cotillard wining best actress in a leading role for "La Môme". But other then that; "No Country for Old Men" winning best picture, the Coen brothers winning best director, Daniel Day-Lewis winning, Javier Bardem winning and so on. None of the categories provided any surprising winners. Besides "No Country for Old Men", the other big winner of the evening was "The Bourne Ultimatum" for winning three out of three Oscar', even though not for the most important categories obviously.

Some great filmmakers spend their entire directing career without winning an Oscar (Hithcock, Kubrick). I just can't help that I lost some of the respect I had for the Coen brothers after appearing on stage for each of their 3 wins, including best picture and best directing. I always thought that they were a couple of awesome young dogs who only made movies they really wanted to make but as it turns out they are pretty boring individuals. They acted like this was a normal every day for them and the Oscar was not a big thing for them.

Perhaps the nicest winners of the evening were Diablo Cody for winning for best original screenplay for "Juno", who was genuinely happy and emotional and Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová for winning best original song for "Once". It was nice that they won, since it was a simply made movie, made on a shoe-string budget and with a couple of camcorder but became an huge success nevertheless. It also was nice that they allowed Markéta Irglová back on the stage to make her acceptance speech, after being cut off by the music before. Perhaps a good idea to give EACH of the award winners the time to make an acceptance speech? I think it's quite disrespectful that in the case of three winners, only one is given the chance and time to make a speech. I mean, some of these people will probably never win an Oscar again. so please let them just enjoy this moment.

Interesting thing to notice was also the amount of international winners, from outside the English speaking countries. It shows that not the best movies and filmmakers are all come from Hollywood and film-making has become a real universal thing, perhaps more than ever before.

But really, do you always need to make a WW II to get nominated for best foreign movie? When is this going to change. It was nice for Austria to win their first ever Oscar for "Die Fälscher" but they really need to broaden their view on foreign films, since there are so many other nice films around, concentrating on totally different subjects.

Forgettable show, without any surprises, which perhaps is also a good thing since this doesn't annoy- or make anyone mad about things.

6/10

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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