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Feature: The 80th Academy Awards

aka "The Oscars 2008"

Date: February 24, 2008
Venue: Kodak Theatre, Hollywood & Highland Center, Los Angeles

Considering that the past 12 months have been packed full of some extremely fine cinematic offerings, it’s no real surprise that the 2008 Academy Awards offered, well, no real surprises. The inevitability of the main award winners were carved out months previously by some truly unsurpassed performances and films, and this year’s ceremony – which saw Hollywood emerging like a phoenix from the ashes of the recent writers’ strike – proved to be a celebration of both substance and style.

Many, including the Film Review team, had considered the Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director category to be a two-horse race, between Joel and Ethan Coen’s sumptuous No Country for Old Men and Paul Thomas Anderson’s incredible There Will Be Blood. Both are expansive visions of life in America’s great West – the former being a bloody modern tale of guns for hire and the latter a portrait of a turn-of-the-century oilman.

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen pose with Martin Scorsese, who won Best Director last yearAlthough there wasn’t much to choose between them, in the end it was the slightly more accessible No Country for Old Men that bagged the Best Picture statuette, and also saw the Coen brothers win both the Best Director and Best Adapted screenplay awards.

Javier BardemAlso appearing on stage was No Country’s Javier Bardem who was, quite rightly, rewarded for his menacing turn as the bizarrely-coiffed assassin Anton Chigurh with the Best Supporting Actor award.

Daniel Day-LewisThat’s not to say that There Will Be Blood went home empty handed. There really was no more deserving Best Actor recipient than Daniel Day-Lewis, who was honoured for what was undoubtedly the performance of the year as unhinged oil magnate Daniel Plainview. The movie also picked up Best Cinematography, as the Academy recognized the huge contribution Robert Elswit’s sweeping visuals had to the film’s overwhelming atmosphere.

Marion CotillardAnd so it went on. It was predictable – but no less thrilling – that an emotional Marion Cotillard would nab the Best Actress for her jaw-dropping portrayal of Edith Piaf in biopic La Vie En Rose, that the excellent Ratatouille would be named Best Animated Feature and even that Sweeney Todd would be honoured with Best Art Direction and The Golden Compass would win Best Visual Effects.

Tilda SwintonThe one small surprise of the night came with the announcement of Tilda Swinton as Best Supporting Actress for her role in corporate thriller Michael Clayton; Film Review’s money was on Cate Blanchett for I’m Not There. Just shows that nothing is a sure thing in the movies…

 Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova & Diablo CodyThere were two awards, however, that we were particularly pleased with here in the office. Firstly, it was fantastic to see young screenwriter Diablo Cody win Best Original Screenplay for her brilliant début effort Juno, and the fact that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova beat off Disney’s Enchanted (which had three nominations) for Best Original Song, taking home the award for their stunning composition ‘Falling Slowly’ from the exceptional Once (in which the talented pair also star), was one of the real highlights of the evening.

Glamorous, straightforward and with a sunglasses-wearing Jack Nicholson firmly ensconced in the front row, the 2008 Academy Awards were a familiar, comforting affair after the tumult of recent months. With no political soap-boxing, no controversial decisions and no real surprises, the Oscars succeeded in its two aims: to celebrate a truly outstanding year in cinema, and to prove that Hollywood has well and truly rebuffed the slings and arrows of union misfortune.

Keep up to date with the film world in
Film Review (Apr)

Photos © A.M.P.A.S.
Feature © Visual Imagination 2008. Not for reproduction

Taken from
Film Review (Apr), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Apr)
#694, April 2008
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