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The 81st Academy Awards Memorable Moments

Kate Winslet, Sean Penn, and Penelope Cruz. (Heath Ledger received the Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role posthumously.)

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). 

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. 

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.

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 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.

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.

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

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


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