(1) Slumdog Millionaire; and
(2) Hugh Jackman.
Slumdog took home a bevy of statues including (1) Best Picture, (2) Best Director, (3) Best Original Song, (4) Best Original Score, (5) Best Film Editing, (6) Best Sound Mixing (7) Best Cinematography, and (8) Best Adapted Screenplay. And not a single acting prize among the lot! (though things are looking good for Dev Patel and Freida Pinto). You want remarkable? That is remarkable. And it just goes to show how far a movie of unknowns can go when you've got a good story (Salmon Rushdie can go eat his own head) and a lot of heart (I mean, did you see Danny Boyle's Tigger Dance as he accepted the Best Director award? Or his constantly grinning face? If he's as infectiously fun in real life as he was on the Oscars last night, I would work for that man in a heartbeat ... as the coffee guy ... or the trash guy ... or the guy who gets the coffee for the trash guy ;)
All I can say is Bravo, Slumdog. Bravo.
But the real news of the night was the return of Entertainment to entertainment's (traditionally) least entertaining awards ceremony (though the Grammy's are right up there). And that is all thanks to one man:
No longer just Wolverine ... no longer just the Boy from Oz ... no longer just the Sexiest Man Alive ... Jackman has rightfully jumped his way to best Oscar host of the decade (Sorry Billy ... I love you too). As one commentator summed up the night's festivities:
Rather than the typical routine of stand-up comedian type monologues, Jackman did a sort-of song and dance that not only drew in the audience, but really entertained like no host has done before.
Get that ... he entertained. Makes sense, right? I mean, why wouldn't a show honoring entertainment's most palpable medium (the silver screen's been the entertainment vehicle of choice since the mid-1920s) actually try to be entertaining?
Time and again (and as long as I've cared about the academy which, admittedly, isn't that long), the Oscars have turned helplessly to would be comedians and ended up with flop after flop. I mean, I love to laugh (and comedy is good for the soul), but do we really need to see Jon Stewart mocking Hollywood off of the Daily Show? No, my friends. No.
Jackman was just what this recession-weary nation needed. A good, old-fashioned, entertainment extravaganza so darn happy that, at one point, it made my roommate John jump up and start dancing.
And Jackman's good-time show stoppers were capped off with wonderful segments by Ben Stiller (doing a lovely send up of our friend Joaquin), Seth Rogen and James Franco, and Steve Martin and Tina Fey.
Now it wasn't all smiles and laughs. Parts were downright boring or nauseatingly self-righteous (Sean Penn ... Bill Maher ... Dustin Lance Black). But though not perfect, the Oscars were quite an entertaining telecast. So, if you missed the live version (shame on you ...) or you just want to see the good parts again (and again and again and again ...), check out Jackman's fantastic numbers here and here.
Hopefully, with a little luck, this is the sign of things to come.