Now that all the (gold) dust has settled on this year's Oscars, it's time to take one last look at the movie award season just past. But before we get to our yearly round up of what movies won the most prizes overall, there's one more bit of 2008 business to attend to: how about that show the other night?
Having watched every single Academy Award ceremony since at least 1977, I have to say that this year's was by far the best. As expected, Hugh Jackman was as charming and classy a host as we have seen in a long time, and his marathon musical numbers proved to the world that he is not just Wolverine. I especially enjoyed his mega-movie musical salute (staged by Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann) with Dreamgirl Beyoncé Knowles, High School Musical cuties Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens and Mamma Mia! lovebirds Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper.
Further kudos go out to the ceremony's producers, Laurence Marks and Bill Condon, who took some chances with the format and succeeded in shaking things up in a positive way. From the grandiose yet intimate set to the unique presentation of the acting awards, the show finally did what it is supposed to do: celebrate the year in film (and not just those chosen few that were nominated too). Here's my vote that this dream team reunites for next year's Oscars.
All right, onto our annual look at the top award winners. As I stated last year, I have tallied up the total trophies handed out by the top 26 organizations, critics groups and industry guilds so as to get a clearer picture of what is indeed the Best Picture (et al) of the year; the results can sometimes be surprising. (Only categories with at least two wins are included.)
Picture of the Year: Slumdog Millionaire, 7 wins.
Actor of the Year: Sean Penn in Milk, 6 wins.
Actress of the Year: Sally Hawkins in Happy-Go-Lucky, 5 wins.
Supporting Actor of the Year: Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, 7 wins.
Supporting Actress of the Year: Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, 6 wins.
Director of the Year: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire, 7 wins.
Adapted Screenplay of the Year: Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire, 6 wins.
Original Screenplay of the Year: Dustin Lance Black for Milk, 3 wins.
Cinematography of the Year: Slumdog Millionaire, 5 wins.
Art Direction of the Year: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 3 wins.
Costume Design of the Year: The Duchess, 4 wins. Original Score of the Year: Slumdog Millionaire, 6 wins.
Original Song of the Year: "The Wrestler" from The Wrestler, 2 wins.
Film Editing of the Year: Slumdog Millionaire, 3 wins.
Sound Mixing & Editing of the Year: The Dark Knight and Slumdog Millionaire, 4 wins each.
Visual Effects of the Year: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 6 wins.
Makeup Design of the Year: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2 wins.
Animated Feature of the Year: WALL-E, 9 wins.
Foreign Film of the Year: Waltz with Bashir, 2 wins.
Documentary Feature of the Year: Man on Wire, 10 wins.
New Director of the Year: Courtney Hunt for Frozen River and Steve McQueen for Hunger, 2 wins each.
The top winner was (no big surprise) Slumdog Millionaire, with wins in 7 categories, while the documentary Man on Wire won the most awards in any category, with 10 total. It is also worth noting that Kate Winslet won a total of 5 awards for her performance in The Reader, 2 for Best Actress and 3 for Best Supporting Actress.
See the comments section below for the list of the 26 groups tracked.