And the Oscar Goes To....

Oscar 2009

...the producers of this year's Academy Awards telecast, who made the brilliant decision to bring back five Best Actress awardees and an equal number of Best Actor winners to present the respective statuettes to this year's recipients. The sentimental tributes that preceded the opening of each envelope were scads more meaningful than the montages that have traditionally reeled behind presenters as the suspense builds (or the boredom sets in, depending on your perspective) at the tail end of the typically overblown Oscar evening.

This year's tributes, offered by legendary actors such as Shirley MacLaine, Sophia Loren, Michael Douglas, Ben Kingsley, Robert DeNiro, Halle Berry, Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman were heartfelt and endearing. MacLaine's, in particular, sounded as though she had written it herself, and the power of her words had Rachel Getting Married star Anne Hathaway all verklempt.

Most impressive, these tributes recognized in a non-glossed-over way the amazing performances turned in by all of this year's nominees. This was Hollywood entertainment at its best.

Thanks to this format change (and long may it continue), no actor or actress needed come away from the night feeling like an also-ran. Well, no one perhaps, but Robin Wright Penn, whose husband apparently chose to leave out of his acceptance speech, after having thanked just about everyone else but her. The man who turned in such a brilliant performance as Harvey Milk was less convincing in his explanation of why he didn't mention the woman who succeeded Madonna as his spouse: "Robin's implicit. I wanted to keep things focused on the professional team around this movie. And with Robin comes my mother, my son, my daughter and half of them will punish me if I mention them.” Yes. Just what every wife longs to hear. That she's implicit. 

Care about manners? Sign up for the What Manners Most newsletter (coming soon) at