The was a fairly brisk award show, for an award show, coming in at just around 3 hours. There were a few surprises, a few interesting moments, and a few good (and bad) presenters. Let’s get down to brass tax, shall we?
Steven Spielberg received the Cecil B. DeMille award. Certainly well-deserved, if only because he had the good sense to not actually direct Jurassic Park III.
Best Motion Picture (Drama) – Slumdog Millionaire. Bad pick when Revolutionary Road was also nominated. Millionaire was a good flick, but the layers and performances in Revolutionary Road stood out. I also wouldn’t have been surprised if The Reader won it, even if there was no gag reel.
Best Director – Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire. OK, the direction was pretty good, but aren’t all these damn films directed well? No complains here, one could’ve picked a name out of a hat for this award.
Best Actor (Drama) – Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. Terrific selection. He WAS The Ram. His performance felt natural, and there was an underlying tension just bubbling under the surface in regards to his stage in life. Rourke’s Ram was real, through and through. Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road was a close second in my mind.
Best Actress (Drama) – Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road. Hard to go wrong in this category with all the leading ladies, but Winslet stood out from what I saw. She is one of the best of this generation, and it’s perplexing that this was the first night she won an award at the Globes or Oscars.
Best Pictures (Musical/Comedy) – Vicky Cristina Barcelona. OK, I may be biased, but so is the foreign press. I preferred comedies such as Role Models, Tropic Thunder, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall to Burn After Reading and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Now, Barcelona was deserving, but Mamma Mia? In my mind, it was awful dreck. Tropic Thunder put it to shame, and it’s a damned shame that a movie such as that would never get nominated.
Best Actor (Musical/Comedy) – Colin Farrell in In Bruges. James Franco was my pick, but a stoner character wasn’t going to take it. I’m not sure I get how Colin Farrell is a good actor, but that’s just me as he’s pretty widely liked.
Best Actress (Musical/Comedy) – Sally Hawkins in Happy Go Lucky. The perfect choice. She played her role well, exuding a bubbly personality while not becoming a caricature. She wasn’t naive, but remained unjaded and lovely despite coming in contact with some of the darker elements on society.
Best Supporting Actor – Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. What can I say that hasn’t already been beaten into the ground? Ledger’s Joker was insane, brilliant, masterful. There almost should’ve been two awards given out for this category in order to give the other nominees a chance. Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. were both terrific in contrasting roles in Tropic Thunder, but probably garnered nary a vote.
Best Supporting Actress – Kate Winslet in The Reader. She’s really starting to pile them up. Kudos. I would add that Penelope Cruz’s performance also merits mentioning.
Best Drama – Mad Men. Who could complain about Mad Men being selected? One could watch every episode over and over and find a new wrinkle each time. Every performer embodies their characters, and the setting of the show adds to its storytelling. Dexter also shined this past year, as did the un-nominated Battlestar Galactica. True Blood wasn’t worthy of a nomination, with vampires and shapeshifters not even being the most ridiculous parts of that program. It’s enjoyable fluff, but does it do anything but beat you over the head with its narrative? Subtlety is not its strong suit.
Best Actor (Drama) – Gabriel Bryne in In Treatment . I must admit I only watched two episodes of this show and was bored beyond belief. Still, he put in a good performance, so one can’t disagree here. However, Michael C Hall as Dexter Morgan and Jon Hamm as Don Draper were two of the most memorable performers of 2008. Hall’s Dexter is an anti-hero with a sick and twisted code, and yet he plays it with such grace. Hamm’s Draper, on the other hand, is a force of nature in Mad Men, dominating every scene he’s in with his body language and with every measured sentence uttered.
Best Actress (Drama) – Anna Paquin in True Blood. As stated previously, I don’t feel this show is deserving of awards, and I also don’t find Paquin’s performance as anything extraordinary. January Jones and Sally Field both bring much more to the category.
Best Musical/Comedy – 30 Rock. There is no debating this pick. Excellent show, littered with jokes and great actors.
Best Actor (Comedy) – Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock. Another stellar pick, as Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy is somehow arrogant and lovable all at the same time. He also plays a great straight man when he asked to. Steve Carrell in The Office would’ve also been a quality choice.
Best Actress (Comedy) – Tina Fey in 30 Rock. So 30 Rock swept the comedy awards. Can’t go wrong with his pick, though Christina Applegate’s role in Samantha Who? is so well-played and funny that I find myself watching ABC for thirty minutes a week even when Lost isn’t being shown.
Best Supporting Actor – Tom Wilkinson in John Adams. The miniseries won four awards and is certainly great, but I would’ve given this to Neil Patrick Harris for his Barney in How I Met Your Mother. He’s pure joy.
Best Supporting Actress – Laura Dern in Recount. Wow was this a performance. Recount itself was a good flick, but Dern’s Katherine Harris was almost as freaky-crazy-weird as the real thing. Almost.
Finally, the best things about last night’s show: Sasha Baron Cohen’s cringe-inducing humor aimed at several celebrities may not have made the crowd laugh, but I damn near broke a tearduct from laughing so hard. Ricky Gervais also put a smile on my face, showing why he’s one of the best presenters in the biz (and doing it while drinking on stage). Both Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan had good acceptance speeches, and Kate Winslet’s sorta-breakdown on stage made me happy for her. She, more than anyone there tonight, truly deserved all the accolades she received.