Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Oscars 2009

I watched the Oscars on Monday. For many years I've tried to watch the Oscars if I could, and then after that I usually wonder why I bothered.

While the format for this year's show was noticeably different (5 previous winners giving away each acting award and the other awards presented as parts of the movie making process), nothing unexpected or awe inspiring happened. Pretty much everyone who was expected to win in the major categories fulfilled predictions—Slumdog Millionaire swept nearly everything and Meryl Streep lost yet again!

While there were a few laughs here and there, nobody did or said anything remarkably funny or stupid which wasn't scripted, although Danny Boyle did look endearing during his Tigger moment. And the clothes were all so-so, nobody wore anything particularly inventive (Halle Berry in 2002) or particularly stunning (Julia Roberts in 2001) or particularly ridiculous (Bjork was nowhere to be found, dang it!). Honorable mentions go to Penelope Cruz, Alicia Keys and Sarah Jessica Parker, who all looked gorgeous, albeit predictably conformist. Side note: Meryl Streep is unarguably one of the greatest actresses alive, but she wore a frumpy potato sack of a dress. Her daughter looked more of a star than she did. Get a new stylist, will ya Meryl?

There were a few highlights: host Hugh Jackman breaking into song in the opening sequence, Heath Ledger's family graciously and touchingly accepting the award for Best Supporting Actor and the musical medley directed by Baz Lurhman with Beyonce and Jackman. But the best moment for me was the performance of the songs nominated for Best Song. Here, Bollywood and Hollywood really blended into a scintillating swirl of colour and music. (All staged and choreographed, no doubt, but admirable nonetheless). There were the dizzying dancers and drummers in over-the-top Bollywood garb spinning beautifully on stage as A.R. Rahman sang "O Saya" from Slumdog, and then there was John Legend singing a Disney song ("Down to Earth" from Wall-E) in a sharp Prada suit, before both sang together in the last number, "Jai Ho", which won the Oscar.

Speaking of A.R. Rahman, when I first heard his acceptance speech for Best Song, I thought it sounded terribly cheesy, but upon reflection, it's actually quite profound:
(A)ll my life I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love and I'm here. God bless.
My fellow Malaysians, choose love.


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