This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

TSR running diary - 81st Annual Academy Awards

TSR running diary - 81st Annual Academy Awards (2009 Oscars) PREGAME - Though they may seem obvious, the awards are never certain until the gold statues are placed in the hand of the actual winner. Mickey Rourke may seem like a shoo-in for Best Actor, but in a world where Crash can win Best Picture, we must remember that nothing is certain. Going against what Slumdog preaches - these awards are NOT written. 

Certainly, the technical awards are up for grabs. Will the Academy give Dark Knight a boat load awards? Will The Curious Case of Benjamin Button earn any technical recognition?

Regardless, here’s hoping for a few surprises and correct praise for the best films of 2008.

PREGAME - jeff bayer - I'm playing the sidekick for Nick Allen. Any time you see - jb - that's me. Predictions ... sure, I have them, but I'll let Nick have the spotlight with his picks. This is the first Oscars that I have ever had to work (my other job). So I will only speak up on rare occasion.

(All times Central)

7:14 - jb - Dear God, Miley Cyrus hopes to be at the Oscars next year for her Hannah Montana movie. What kind of bubble do they have this girl living in? She's 16, at the Oscars and standing in a silver Christmas tree dress. Not a fan if you couldn't tell.

7:30. We’re finally here - The 81st Academy Awards. Hello all, Nick Allen here - your own TSR.com version of Hugh Jackman. The awards are off to a good start. Hugh is already making jokes (that are actually funny) at his own expense. Now … a musical number that seems like it was written by Michel Gondry? Brilliant! …So this is why they picked Hugh Jackman. He really is very entertaining!

7:30 - jb - Goosebumps. Though "host" and "Hugh" don't seem to fit. I'm a little worried.

7:33 - jb - Uh, it's Broadway at the Oscars. And all the kids are turning off ... wait, street dancers. What a great save (sarcasm).

7:40ish: That song was brilliant! Even if Anne Hathaway doesn’t get her Oscar, she’ll have made it clear she is also fun to watch. It seems as if we’re off to a good start. At the least, it feels like we’ll be in the hands of a great host.

7:43 On stage to present the award for Best Supporting Actress is 5 previous winners. However, the announcing of this year’s nominees are lead up by a long introduction of each player. Are all of the nomination announcements going to be this long? ... And did Whoopi Goldberg just make a really intense sexual innuendo?

7:43 - jb - I have to say, I like the stage and big screen TV showing past nominations. Plus, look at this, it's a 5-pack of presenters! And Tilda managed to match her skin with her dress color. Not a good choice.

7:47 Still talking about the same award…are we going to have performance eulogies the entire night or clips? 

7:48 Winner of Best Supporting Actress – Penelope Cruz. You deserved it, Penelope. More than Rebecca Hall though? Hmm...not sure...

7:52 Another good idea for tonight – having two funny writers (Tina Fey and Steve Martin) present the back to back screenwriting awards. And yes, we’re back to the clip introduction of the nominations. And the winner is…
Dustin Lance Black for MILK. Good. An inspired adaptation of his personal hero, albeit my problems with the movie as a whole. Congratulations to the young screenwriter, and praise for his wonderful, heartfelt speech. 

8:03 While discussing animated features, Jack Black makes a dig at his own paycheck (by saying he uses the money he earns from Dreamworks to bid on Pixar). Well, he would’ve been a rich man if Wall-E wasn’t such a shoo-in. Regardless, the Disney film is absolutely deserving of such an award, if not more.

7:54 - jb - Steve Martin and Tina Fey present ... And Martin is much funnier tonight than when he hosted Saturday Night Live a couple nights ago. Fey must be rubing off of him.

7:59 - jb - Yeah, no one can top Dustin Lance Black's speech. Game over.

8:05 - jb - A 2008 Yearbook? Hmm, I love montages, but looking back on something that happened just a couple months ago isn't enough time for me.

8:19 - jb - Sarah Jessica Parker's Golden Globes are about to fall out.Yes, I know I am mixing my award show metaphors.

8:25 What are you doing here Robert Pattinson? Fine, I suppose some people did see that little movie Twilight. But you're good for getting small websites like TSR.com more hits. Twilight Twilight Twilight New Moon New Moon New Moon. You’re welcome, Jeff.

8:26. Ah, the encompassing montage of this year's romance, where movies like High School Musical 3 can get an excuse to say they were featured inthe Oscars. It was the right choice to cap the video with a clip from Wall-E, arguably the most beautiful love story of 2008.

8:32 Ben Stiller and Natalie Portman making Joaquin Phoenix jokes. Despite their cheapness, the lines are funny. Ben Stiller wandering away from the podium in a giant beard who surprisingly hilarious.

8:35 Congratulations to the unique vision of Slumdog, though it is sad that it had to beat something as grandiose as Dark Knight in the process.

8:37 - jb - Jackman should have his title changed from "Host" to "Guy who introduces show then disappears."

8:39 - jb - Love how they always have a hot chick hosting the Sci-Tech Awards.

8:43 For an overview of this years’ comedy, a cameo from the two Pineapple Express guys that is funnier than anything they did in that entire movie. And a cameo from Spielberg cinematographer Janusz Kasminski! Great!

8:52 Another musical number from Hugh Jackman. Despite it’s extravagance, it lacks much uniqueness or humor. And why does Beyonce get all of this hype when Jennifer Hudson actually won the Oscar? This musical number is bland. Here, extravagance doesn’t equal excitement. Hugh Jackman declares “the musical is back” but does so with a very lifeless tribute.

8:56 - jb - I like musicals. This is NOT a good idea. Nothing sounds crisp about this musical number with Beyonce, Hugh and pop kids.

9:03 So I’ve decided I like these extensive introductions of the top nomination categories. It’s fun to see familiar faces, and it makes the high award even more special. Besides, it allows people to praise other performances, in hoping that Ledger’s Oscar won’t be so obvious. 

9:09 Congratulations, Mr. Ledger. Tender speeches from his father, mother, and sisters, and wet eyes all around from members of his big Hollywood family. A touching moment, to be sure.

9:14 Bill Maher presents for Best Documentary and makes a comment promoting the idea of his movie Religulous that is a bit too sharp. And then remarks, “you should see their movies more. Starting with mine.”

9:20 Man On Wire wins for Best Documentary. The star of the film, acrobat Philip, is wearing a leather suit only he could make awesome. And does a magic trick during his acceptance speech! And balanced an Oscar on his nose! Man, this guy could out crazy Werner Herzog. They should absolutely do a movie together!

9:22 - jb - Hmm, so far the funniest moment of the night was that Jimmy Kimmel commercial with Tom Cruise. That's not a good sign.

9:27 Ben Button wins for Best Visual Effects – I know. Dark Knight looked great, but let’s face it. Curious Case miraculously aged a man backwards, as if he were played by numerous actors. Absolutely amazing. 

9:32 Slumdog Millionaire wins for Best Sound Mixing. Because it has beat such sound dominated movies like The Dark Knight, could I argue that this is the first real upset of the night? 

9:37 It’s this time of night, and we only have seven more Oscars left. Is this good timing, or is it just me? I mean, have these Oscars been plowing along at a good speed?

9:41 - jb - Nice, Eddie Murphy is introducing Jerry Lewis. Murphy is the biggest star of the 80s. Think about it. It's true. My parents had me watch "The Nutty Professor" when I was a little kid. Thanks mom and dad.

9:45 A nice speech from Jerry Lewis winning the Jean Hersholt Award. Short and sweet, and he didn’t accuse presenter Eddie Murphy of ruining his character (Nutty Professor).

9:51 Composer Michael Giacchino plays bits of the nominated original scores. A good overview, though I’m still not convinced why Milk’s score is up there in general. And of such a fantastic score, why the lackluster selection from Slumdog Millionaire?

9:52 - jb - The nominated scores are being played, and everyone across the nation is considering if now is a good time to call it a night and go to sleep.

9:53 - jb - Wait! It's Zac Efron ... Kids, don't go to sleep yet!!! At this point, I'm just waiting for Mickey Rourke's acceptance speech.

10:00 When presenting the two best original songs, they try to mix the three together - but it doesn’t work entirely. Here’s the problem, though. Which song from Slumdog will win? The one that plays during the credits, or the one that made us all fall in love instantly with the film?

10:02 Apparently, the one that left the last impression wins. The thumping “Jai Ho” wins over the pulsating “O Saya”. Fair game. I bet composer A.R Rahman is having quite a night - he’s delivering Oscar acceptances like they were boring, repetitive town hall speeches.

10:02 - jb - Worst decision of the Oscars ... not nominating Bruce Springsteen for his song in The Wrestler. Here's the full story behind the snubbing -- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29020589/

10: 18 - jb - Can't believe Paul Newman doesn't get his own tribute. It's only been a couple of minutes, but the Oscars already have a new worst decision.

10:18 The worst part of the Oscars, when the Academy president speaks, is non existent. It is skipped over wonderfully. Another plus to a relatively exciting night.

10:21 Danny Boyle wins for Best Director - The magic of Hollywood. A well deserved Oscar for a great guy. Congratulations Mr. Boyle on the best way the world can thank you for something as exuberant as Slumdog Millionaire. 

10:26 Presentation for Best Actress - The long introductions are a lot of fun, especially when active audience members such as myself guess which former winners from the previous clip will actually be on stage. However, the mini-movies that play around the footage of the currently nominated person is a bit distracting. By the way, Sophia Loren looks great in the “I got locked in a tanning salon” look. 

10:33 Finally, Kate Winslet has her Oscar. She delivers a speech that is as heartfelt as it is cute, and gives a great shout out to her dad (who is wearing a sweet hat).

10:28 - jb - I wonder how many people are trying to figure out what actress is introducing Kate Winslet as a best actress nominee. It's funny, because Marion Cotillard wishes she had Winslet's career.

10:36 - jb - How many guys just crossed Sophia Loren of the desirable list? Add my name to the list. It was a good run though.

10:38 Presentation for Best Actor - Was Daniel Day-Lewis too cool to keep up the tradition of previous year's winners speaking? Answer: Yes.

10:44 Winner of Best Actor – Sean Penn - Wow. A real surprise, considering the emotional momentum behind Rourke. Funny that Sean Penn is graciously calling the audience “homo-loving sons of guns”. A nice speech, as expected.

10:44 - jb - Argh. Great performance by Penn. Glad it's recognized, but man. I wanted Rourke up there.

10:47 A great montage that celebrates the spirit of each film up for Best Picture with previous nominees. Another beneficial choice from the Oscars.

10:52 Winner of Best Picture - Slumdog Millioniare. Congratulations to a unique pick for Best Picture, but certainly the most deserving. 

End – A preview of upcoming films, regardless of whether they will be mentioned next year, still creates excitement. Footage of Public Enemies and Terminator Salvation offer a wonderful restart and a great cap to the films of 2008.

10:52 - jb - I got 17 out of 24 correct. Slightly off year for me. But I think I say that every year.

Overall Thoughts - jb - I got to say ... boring show. If I wanted singing and dancing, I'd watch the Tony Awards. The five presenters for the major acting awards was cool, but only in certain circumstances. Robert De Niro introduces Senn Pean makes sense. They've worked together and are supposedly friends. But otherwise, it was just random actors reading a cue card for another actor. The set design was nice. The lack of comedy was painful. If it's a good, fun show ... I don't care if it's five hours long. But thankfully, this Oscars was short.

Certainly not a horrible year for Oscar, but easily not one of its best. It was wonderful to see originality recognized in a film such as Slumdog Millionaire, and it was great to see Heath Ledger's wonderful performance as the Joker celebrated with a sought after award. Hugh Jackman proved to be a bit of a hands-off host (only stepping in for musical numbers, half of which were good) and in general the atmosphere of the awards was not entirely memorable. However, a few surprises (such as Sean Penn's win) kept viewers on their toes, and the win of Slumdog Millionaire probably had them dancing.

81st Annual Academy Awards - The Oscar Winners

7th Annual TSR Movie Awards - 2008