‘Old Men’ outlasts big wigs at 2008 Oscars

The 80th Academy Awards took place Sunday night, honoring the highest achievements in motion pictures this year. The award show was, as host Jon Stewart put it, “makeup sex” for the industry and the recently striking writers, and even though they were back to pen most of the show, nobody could have scripted the raw power of some of the acceptance speeches. Big names like Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett, Tommy Lee Jones and George Clooney were all snubbed this year, with some of the breakthrough performances being played by lesser-known actors and actresses.

Forest Whitaker delivered the statuette for “Best Actress” to a visibly shaken Marion Cotillard for her portrayal of French singer Édith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.” Cotillard graciously accepted her award, thanking the academy: “It is true, there are some angels in this city.”

The hands-down major winner of the night was “No Country for Old Men,” which scooped up four awards, including the major prize, “Best Picture.” Directors Joel and Ethan Coen were also awarded “Best Director” and “Best Adapted Screenplay” for the movie based on the Cormac McCarthy novel.

The award for “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” went to Javier Bardem for his chilling role in “No Country for Old Men,” with the overjoyed actor giving a heartfelt speech in Spanish to his mother, who was seated in the audience.

“Thank God for teen pregnancy,” Stewart remarked, referring to the surprise feel-good film of the year “Juno.” Despite not winning Best Picture (and Ellen Page being denied Best Actress for her role), the film picked up the award for “Best Original Screenplay” with its kooky script and moving premise.

Daniel Day-Lewis made his much-deserved walk to the podium for his outstanding performance in “There Will Be Blood” as a prospector who comes across a life-changing wealth of oil. The film also won behind-the-scenes honors for “Best Cinematography.”

“Best Actress in a Supporting Role” was the only award, out of seven nominations, given to “Michael Clayton.” The award was accepted by first- time nominee Tilda Swinton, who comically commented on the resemblance of the Oscar statue to her agent.

Another multi-nominated film shown little love this year was the Joe Wright-directed “Atonement,” which was only awarded “Best Original Score.”

Though it won the Golden Globe award last month for “Best Picture – Musical or Comedy,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” only earned “Best Achievement in Art Direction,” with Johnny Depp losing “Best Actor” to Day-Lewis. A surprise winner was “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which won the three technical awards it was nominated for: “Best Film Editing,” “Best Sound Editing” and “Best Sound Mixing.”

The shocks and sentimental speeches alongside the humorous musical numbers from the film “Enchanted” kept this year’s Oscars, unlike the content of many of the films nominated, jubilant and light-hearted.