Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, session 2, precluded my viewing of the bulk of the Oscars telecast, but I'll still weigh in on some of the winners:
Slumdog Millionaire - Yes, it's a movie about India filtered through British colonialist eyes, but Slumdog was still my favorite film of the year. A sweeping, sentimental love story, it mixed the pluck of an O. Henry hero with thoroughly modern globalization themes, and soared.
Sean Penn - While the real life Mickey Rourke-redemption story was fascinating, Sean Penn's performance as Harvey Milk was much more nuanced. "The Wrestler" was essentially Mickey Rourke playing himself; Penn's "Milk" was a tougher sell. He pulled it off magnificently, but still, this was not a year of stellar lead actor performances.
Penelope Cruz - Her dutiful turn as the girlfriend of Tom Cruise paid off at last. Cruz turned in two fantastic performances in 2008 ("Elegy" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona") and deserved her statue. She's also the most gorgeously Mediterranean actress I've seen since Sophia Loren, and that doesn't hurt.
I also managed to catch each of the 5 nominated live action short films. My favorite, "The Pig," did not win, but that's because it was up against a film about the Holocaust. Does a Holocaust film ever lose?