Oscar Legacy
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The 81st Academy Awards (2009)

Held at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on Sunday, February 22, 2009,
honoring movies released in 2008.

Best Actor Sean Penn ("Milk") flanked by previous Oscar winners Michael Douglas, Adrien Brody, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins and Robert De Niro.

Best Actor Sean Penn ("Milk") flanked by previous Oscar winners Michael Douglas, Adrien Brody, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins and Robert De Niro.

Best Picture

Slumdog Millionare Full Image

"Slumdog Millionare"

Celador Films Production; Fox Searchlight. [United Kingdom]

Best Original Screenplay

Best Original Screenplay winner Dustin Lance Black ("Milk"). Full Image

Dustin Lance Black

Best Original Screenplay winner Dustin Lance Black ("Milk").

Best Animated Feature

Best Animated Feature winner Andrew Stanton ("WALL-E"). Full Image

Andrew Stanton

Best Animated Feature winner Andrew Stanton ("WALL-E").

The Year

  • Kate Winslet
  • Heath Ledger
  • Dustin Lance Black
  • Best Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire”
    • “Slumdog Millionaire” also won Academy Awards for Cinematography (Anthony Dod Mantle), Directing (Danny Boyle), Film Editing (Chris Dickens), Music – Original Score (A.R. Rahman), Music – Original Song (“Jai Ho,” A.R. Rahman, music, and Gulzar, lyric), Sound Mixing (Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, and Resul Pookutty), and Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy). (View Image)
  • Hugh Jackman was the host.
  • “Slumdog Millionaire” received eight of the ten Oscars for which it was nominated.
  • The acting awards were presented in memorable fashion as five previous Oscar winners in each category took turns introducing the nominees and commending their work.
  • Heath Ledger posthumously won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for “The Dark Knight.” His father, mother, and sister accepted the award on his behalf. (View Image)
  • When “Departures” won the Foreign Language Film category, it marked the first time that Japan had received an Oscar since 1955’s “Samurai, The Legend of Musashi,” for which it received an Honorary Award. 
  • In January 2008, Tata Motors introduced the Nano, which was nicknamed the “People’s Car” and advertised as the world’s least expensive car, at the New Delhi Auto Expo in India. The anticipated starting price for the Nano was approximately $2,500, not including extras such as sun visors, a radio and air conditioning.
  • In January 2008, 36-year-old Bobby Jindal took office as governor of Louisiana, becoming the first elected Indian-American governor in the United States, and Louisiana’s youngest governor since 35-year-old Huey Long in 1928.
  • In February 2008, General Motors attempted to lower its operating costs by offering buyouts to all 74,000 of its hourly employees represented by the United Auto Workers union. 19,000 employees accepted the buyouts, but GM was still unable to recover from its more than $40 billion net loss in 2007, the largest loss ever experienced by a car manufacturer.
  • On March 18, 2008, Anthony Minghella, who won Best Director for 1996’s “The English Patient” and received three other Oscar nominations, died in London at the age of 54.
  • On March 18, 2008, Eliot Spitzer, an outspoken critic of the laxity in ethics in public life, became the first New York governor to resign due to scandal in almost a century. Spitzer’s actions came less than 48 hours after it was revealed that he was a client of a high-end prostitution ring under federal investigation.
  • In April 2008, 26-year-old Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan, making her the first female winner in IndyCar racing history.
  • On May 26, 2008, film director, producer, and actor Sydney Pollack, who received two Oscars for 1985’s “Out of Africa” and five other Academy Award nominations, died at the age of 73 in Los Angeles. Pollack was partners with Anthony Minghella in the production company Mirage Enterprises, which co-produced the 2008 Best Picture nominee “The Reader.”
  • In June 2008, California officials began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing the ceremonies took effect.
  • In August 2008, Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in eight swimming events at the Olympic Games in Beijing, shattering seven world records in the process. Fourteen of Phelps’s 16 career Olympic medals are gold.
  • On September 26, 2008, Best Actor winner Paul Newman, who also received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993 for his well-known philanthropy, died at the age of 83 at his home in Westport, Connecticut.
  • In October 2008, Belgian Luc Costermans set a new world speed record for blind drivers: 192 mph. Costermans, who was accompanied by a navigator, set the record in a borrowed Lamborghini Gallardo on an airstrip near Marseille, France.
  • On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain in the U.S. presidential election, becoming the first African-American president of the United States.
  • In December 2008, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on a number of conspiracy and fraud charges. The following month, the Illinois Senate impeached Blagojevich for his attempts to seek bribes and political favors, including efforts to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama.

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

Jerry Lewis, actor, director, writer and producer. Raised more than $2 billion dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

See all Nominees and Winners

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