The academy awards this year somehow felt devoid of the drama that usually accompanies it. It is hard to be excited about it when you almost know for sure the winners for most of the categories. The only thing that kept me interested was to see if Scorsese would win the awards this year or not. We had a new host too, Ellen Degeneress, this year and she was a bit toned down compared to Chris Rock last year. The most memorable of her lines was “If there weren't blacks, Jews and gays, there would no Oscars. Or anyone named Oscar, if you think about that”.
Having said that, the awards did throw up some surprises along the way. The biggest of them all must surely be Alan Arkin, winner for best supporting actor for ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. He beat out everyone’s favorite Eddie Murphy who had won most of the awards leading up to the Oscars for his portrayal of James “Thunder” Early in ‘Dreamgirls’.
In another surprise the German movie ‘The Lives of Others’ won over Mexico’s ‘Pan's Labyrinth’, which was widely favored to win the award. Nevertheless Pan’s Labyrinth won 3 awards including cinematography, makeup and art direction.
The major categories all went according to plan. Hellen Mirren for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen” must have been the surest nominee ever to win the best actress award. It was a foregone conclusion that she would pick up the award and which she duly did.
Forrest Whitaker, who started off as a favorite early on faced some sentimental competition from the veteran Peter O’Toole. However Whitaker’s role of Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland” prevailed over Toole’s portrayal of an elderly actor in love with a young girl in ‘Venus’ . “Little Miss Sunshine” a popular road comedy about a dysfunctional family won 2 awards for the night including best original screenplay to add to its supporting actor win.
Jennifer Hudson, the favorite to win the supporting actress category, brought in the only Oscar for “Dreamgilrs”. The American Idol reject was visibly overcome with emotion during her speech after receiving the award. But it was a surprise to see “Dreamgirls ” lose out to Melissa Etheridge’s song “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”, despite having 3 of its songs nominated.
Babel picked up its only Oscar of original score for Gustavo Santaolalla, despite having several other nominations including best picture. Gustavo said during his acceptance speech that his goal was to write a score that doesn't sound like a National Geographic soundtrack.
Among the other notable awards, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award was given to ex-Paramount chief Sherry Lansing. While a special Oscar was given to Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Best remembered for the The Good, The Bad and The Ugly's haunting theme song.
But the biggest winner of the night was undoubtedly Martin Scorsese. His crime drama ‘Departed’ not only won him his first Oscar in six attempts, it also went on to take the most awards (4) of the night including best picture. It won in the best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best editing categories. It was a long time coming and the Academy didn’t let go of the chance to make it special either. The moment three his greatest contemporaries came on the stage to give the best director award we were sure it had to be Scorsese’s night. He received the award from Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Oscar definitely has corrected its past injustices towards him.