'Slumdog' leads Oscar pack

This was one of the most anticipated Academy Awards in years. Fingers were crossed for the little movie that could and organizers were whispering of big changes to the worn-out ceremony. And for once, the promises of grandeur were fulfilled.

Fan favourite Slumdog Millionaire was named best picture, beating out Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Milk, and nomination-leader The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The low-budget, British-Indian drama about a Mumbai street boy’s rise to game-show glory went home with eight Oscar statues, winning all but two of its nomination categories.

Filling Slumdog’s pot of gold were awards for best director (Danny Boyle); adapted screenplay (Simon Beaufoy); original score and song (A.R. Rahman); cinematography; editing; and sound.

In the acting categories, Kate Winslet (The Reader) overtook Meryl Streep (Doubt) for best actress and Sean Penn (Milk) out-manoeuvred Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) for best actor. A wonderful Oscar moment came when Winslet asked her father to whistle so she could find him in the crowd and thank him directly during her speech.

The expectants took away supporting honours, with Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) taking home an Oscar and Heath Ledger (Dark Knight) winning posthumously for his portrayal of the Joker. Ledger’s mother, father and sister accepted the award on his daughter’s behalf, addressing the teary-eyed crowd with heartfelt thanks. However, inconsiderate planning had the next segment on documentary film cuing up as Ledger’s family exited the stage and the audience attempted to compose itself. A commercial break would have been much more appropriate.

Benjamin Button only took home awards for three of its 13 nominations, winning best art direction, makeup and visual effects.

Another Oscar moment immortalized itself when Philippe Petit, the subject of best documentary Man on Wire, made a coin magically disappear and balanced the gold statue on his chin while being played off the stage.

The following is a full list of 2009 Academy Awards winners:

Best picture
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Frost/Nixon”
“Milk”
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Best director
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Gus Van Sant, “Milk”
Stephen Daldry, “The Reader
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire

Best actor
Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”
Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler

Best actress
Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt
Kate Winslet, “The Reader

Best supporting actor
Josh Brolin, “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”

Best supporting actress
Amy Adams, “Doubt
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, “Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler

Best foreign-language film
“The Baader Meinhof Complex,” Germany
“The Class,” France
Departures,” Japan
“Revanche,” Austria
“Waltz With Bashir,” Israel

Best adapted screenplay
Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
John Patrick Shanley, “Doubt
Peter Morgan, “Frost/Nixon”
David Hare, “The Reader
Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire

Best original screenplay
Courtney Hunt, “Frozen River”
Mike Leigh, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black, “Milk”
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, “WALL-E”

Best animated feature film
“Bolt”
“Kung Fu Panda”
WALL-E

Best art direction
“Changeling”
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
“The Dark Knight”
“The Duchess”
“Revolutionary Road”

Best cinematography
“Changeling”
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Best sound mixing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
Slumdog Millionaire
“WALL-E”
“Wanted”

Best sound editing
The Dark Knight
“Iron Man”
Slumdog Millionaire
“WALL-E”
“Wanted”

Best original score
Alexandre Desplat, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
James Newton Howard, “Defiance”
Danny Elfman, “Milk”
A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire
Thomas Newman, “WALL-E”

Best original song
“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E,” Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman
Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman and Gulzar
“O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam

Best costume design
“Australia”
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
The Duchess
“Milk”
“Revolutionary Road”

Best documentary feature
“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)”
“Encounters at the End of the World”
“The Garden”
Man on Wire
“Trouble the Water”

Best documentary (short subject)
“The Conscience of Nhem En”
“The Final Inch”
Smile Pinki
“The Witness — From the Balcony of Room 306”

Best film editing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Frost/Nixon”
“Milk”
Slumdog Millionaire

Best makeup
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
“The Dark Knight”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Best animated short film
La Maison en Petits Cubes
“Lavatory — Lovestory”
“Oktapodi”
“Presto”
“This Way Up”

Best live action short film
“Auf der Strecke (On the Line)”
“Manon on the Asphalt”
“New Boy”
“The Pig”
Spielzeugland (Toyland)

Best visual effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”

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