Poor Danny, he's been wanting the Oscar all night so badly. It's heavy! And just like in the movies suddenly 8 magic priceless gold ones appear for Slumdog Millionaire. For one night the happiest man on the planet is director Danny Boyle. Not too miserable everyone else from what you can see of the celebs on camera and finally the ones who make it on stage at the Kodak.

Why do we do these things? We all love the movies and we've been doing it for 81 years. A cultural ritual or maybe more a secret celebration of people we consider our best friends. If movies and celebrities are as big as ever, the Oscars have been floundering like another dull awards show, way down from the first and greatest of them all.

Moving Oscar Night from March to Feb makes me wonder if this wasn't an Academy ratings bow to Prime Time with the Brazil Carnival and New Orleans Mardi Gras going on now. Carnival for all of us couch potatoes at home watching. Though why shouldn't we be out there partying after thousands of hours of movies and Oscar telecasts? Gruelling sometimes. Or at least like these industrious gals below [photo] having their own not too shabby home-made Oscar Party at home.

This year's show was surprisingly good if you missed it. The ratings were low again, but that was because of the writers' strike effect on an abysmal elcheapo production last year. Finally the Oscars graduated to something like a Hollywood production.

The night club stage set framed with a giant crystal curtain brought back memories of big budget glamor. Absent, the embarrassingly small musical numbers for Best Song that provided a lack of excitement every year. Designed more for Oscar bathroom breaks and make some popcorn honey. Not this time. "The Musical is Back", the big show stopper with the scaled down Piazza di Spagna staircase and the Michelangelo piazza floor wowed everyone. This time Oscar hired a small army of dancers to dance down the stairs. Beyonice was sensational and Hugh Jackman made us forget he wasn't a comedian or a dancer or a singer. He pulled all his talent out of a hat like he'd been doing Hollywood magic all his life. Though I wasn't so sure about the opening number, the high dive into a very shallow erector set and a steal from Commedia del Arte without Punch and Judy. And he sings? It was a touchy moment for us anyway though Hugh convinced us not to worry.

Overall Danny Boyle [photo with Oscar] was impressed with everything. Even with the weighty Oscar for his life and Slumdog direction, he remembered to salute the night's production values. The show looks bloody marvelous from the audience! Don't know how it looks on television? One of the best I think we'd say. Anyone remember seeing so many commercials though? I guess the Academy didn't think anyone would be watching and it was very near desperate on how are we ever going to pay for this thing? What are we getting per second? Nuts! Call your brother-in-law! It's an emergency! How near we got to some cheesy home-made Car-O-Rama spots from Big Tom, your big pal in the vehicular business, we'll never know. We're clearin'em all out in Spokane! But it was more Coke and more Diet Coke. Best Foreign Commercial was Coke from Italy hands down. Of course there weren't any Italians drinking it, but that was an oversight nobody noticed.

The easy-going pacing had me worried on top of the commercials. Not really slow, but would they finish before 2010? A half-hour of overtime as it turned out.

Rather a long night anyway if you have to see it all. The yak yak gush gush Red Carpet Prequels have become favorites, even the best part of some Oscars. Now they've been wrestled out of the hands of Melissa and her mom Joan and the junior reporters picked for being sort of familiar. Now it's big league stuff with Ryan Seacrest on top of the Red Carpet game. Not as good as American Idol yet, but wait til next year when the producers will insist on Hollywood Idol, the New Oscar Aftershow, with actors even producers glistening with Oscar remorse. Always next year, and a pat on the back, or a hug and some Kleenex from Ryan.

A nice surprise was our distinguished Artistic Directer of haute couture, Tim Gunn, from Liz Clairborne direct from his hit show Runway. Finally some one who might tell us the truth about some of these overblown fashionistas who look like overstuffed furniture or brides from the gauzy world of Miss Haversham, dry cleaned though, or updated and Tide Totaled later in the night by Mr Gunn himself, in his Tide commercial.

No, nothing but sincere smiles at understandable failures, with one big bonus coming up in a minute. First Best Pole Lamp, a pity, but why couldn't Tim have bumped Queen Latifah. Dear, you're still wearing your seatbelt. A word with Will Smith for his own good. You know two earrings gets you thrown off Runway even if you look cute. The real bonus and a coup for Tim, no kidding, was snagging an interview with the starched Don of Fashion, Valentino himself. Straight out of a Scorsese picture. If Martin's through with mobsters he could try the Nazis. What a piece of luck since they're all dead. But where was Karl Langerfeld, the Jack Nicholson of Kool Couture? Where was Jack? Seems every year since Bob Hope retired, Jack's been in row 3, with his Langerfeld shades, grinning so brightly that every Oscar Host has been obliged to check all the jokes and proceedings with Jack. OK Jack? Jack has it figured out. Perfect. He even got Ellen to vacuum the carpet one year. Lorenzo Lamas, that was Jack's idea. You're marvelous! Simply marvelous. Billy Crystal couldn't shake LL for years. If Billy could have done Fabio, he would have been back this year. Miss you Billy and Jack too. Maybe Jack could have helped out Daniel Craig who got tongue-tied by too much Sex and the City, some sort of TV curse on TV actors that lately has been dissipating, with guys like Pierce and George Clooney, who weren't there either.

One bit from the Red Carpet also confirmed the very same TV star curse when Matthew Broderick came on looking less like Broderick and more like somebody's brother on a last minute date with a starlet looking like Celine Dion, but it wasn't her. Broderick's wife, but outside in daylight you can't be sure she wasn't from Almost Sex and the City, working title, the clone in pre-production or the girl in that commercial? But it was Sarah Jessica. She got interviewed, Matthew got to whimper. Is a long marriage in Hollywood terms, 5 to 10 in the slammer, this demoralizing? If you saw Matthew Broderick in Glory, you saw perhaps the best performance by an actor in 20 years. What happened Matthew?

Of course we can't forget the biggest buzz of all, not the movies, not the Oscars, not Slumdog, not even the big cast of celebs. Brad and Angelina who were early but parked in their limo waiting to burst on the Red Carpet at the exact right moment almost late, with everybody else besides Brad and Angelina waiting too for the same moment. Don't know why really, some sort of mystery there. Maybe that's it, something beyond acting. They're good, even pretty good. Really good sometimes. Great, well not yet. Maybe the mystery is Jennifer Aniston who turns it into a classic B Movie Triangle. She had him first. He couldn't resist. Then her Friends showed up. Everything he thought he had was nothing he wanted anymore. All he wanted was her. All she wanted was --to kill her."

On of the possible backstories here. But with Brad looking less like Robert Redford and more like Charlie Chan, it might not last. Would Jenn want him back? Stay glued to the supermarket checkout magazines.

Jenn showed up later with Steve Martin on stage. First time Jenn was in the same room, the big Kodak Room, with Brad or Angelina or both of them, for months! Hollywood gossips have kept this amazing fact well lubricated going on 3 days now. It might never end. Are we obsessed?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder used to be reserved for heavy Hollywood drinkers when it was called alcoholism. Now more and more fans are being bitten by it. It's been happening for years to large numbers of frumpy English women gushing over the Queen and Royals of any stripe. Royal toddlers will do at the drop of a hat, googoogaga. Now firmly transplanted to America it threatens to spread around any starlet famous for 6 weeks or longer. Since we've lost "actress" let's keep "starlet" and make it degendered, as the male variety pre-stars are pretty boys anyway. Starlets don't seem to mind, because it's somebody else gets infected. It's their fan base, it's their fans. In the worst case scenario they have absolutely no talent at all and look like Paris Hilton with Paparazzi in tow. But starlets and Hiltons are one thing, and we know they fade. But Brad and Angelina have been at it for years. If we had Brad and Angelina's secret on spreading Chronic Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder then everyone could be famous. Who will figure this out? Not the scientists, not Dr Phil. Did you see the tabloids on Dr Phil's divorce? We need a critic of course, the best. Hey Roger Ebert! Write about this will ya! This is important. Save thousands of wannabees years of waitressing and bartending and pointless auditions in LA and all over the world.

Back to Steve and Jenn. Steve's a little like Daddy for Jenn, so we don't think they're doing it. He could have easily fired her up but maybe he was worried about Angelina and Brad. Or a pocketful of parking tickets. Though he is leading man material he never gets the chance, stuck as the comedy heavyweight, maybe another show business curse. So he's funny, so keep him that way! The most brilliant comic actor since Peter Sellers, though like Peter he has lousy luck with scripts and movies. When is somebody gonna write something great for Steve? I'll do it! Call me Steve.

Which reminds me where was Jim Carrey? What was he thinking, to miss the Oscars when we were counting on him? I guess he smelled a flop. And yeah, he might physically spook Steve into burning up like a rocket sharing the same stage or being anywhere near Steve, even from the back row of the Kodak. Jim would have saved the day, biting Steve on the ankle to keep him grounded, pet dog style. Stay there, stay right there and we'll get some help. OK, I do remember that photo of Steve on the backlot in Vanity Fair, the very small dog biting Steve's trrouser cuff.

The problem with comedy though is too many dumb movies and not a lot of laughs after the gimmick wears off. The dead boyfriend comes back after plastic surgery, no wait a minute, that was a Boggie movie. Actually this one might work, but most don't unless you work these dumb plots to death. Or you get Deniro. It's usually too many one comic comedy movies with inconsequential characters for foils or background action. I'm the star around here sort of comedy. The only other guy besides Jim who can make this work was there getting the Gene Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the great Jerry Lewis, who reinvented comedy for years. Jerry at his best gave us comic abstract impressionism that no one else can do, except perhaps Fernandel, the guy who always grinning, cunningly sharpens kitchen knives brought out by chatty housewives on a big portable grinding wheel he pushes around town in some old French movie that makes you long for the vanished days of a simple life. Or Guy Marchand, another French guy who can wear pointed Italian shoes and make your eyes pop with one shoe stepping out of a car, then the other, in a film noir with Noiret directed by Pierre Granier-Deferre, Noyade interdite. No wonder Jerry has his biggest fans in France. Boing Boing anyone? With Dean right, but try The Nutty Professor with Stella Stevens for a potent green cocktail of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Or Jerry's zany big department store movie.

I suppose that's what we get most of the time at the Oscars, a fresh breath of nostalgia when we were younger, or a feelgood buzz from a movie we loved that makes it to the Oscars when we didn't think it had much of a chance. Or so good we knew it had to make it. But why doesn't Stephen Frears get nominated for Best Direction? Or his films for anything? This Brit moight look like a cab driver but he's got more class as a director than a trailerful of Jack Daniels. Danny Boyle could be be his younger goofy brother, with Frears knocking himself out to make the money to keep them afloat. He did My Beautiful Laundrette for BBC with Daniel Day Lewis in 1985, 24 years before Milk. If we could get a bunch of directors together on the other side of the camera, I'm sure that with the right script, we could all have a lot of fun with these geniuses.

Steve Martin would have been better off with Emma Thompson or maybe in one of the Big Five moments but more like out of that first Superman movie with Brando where there's this opening scene in some extra-galactic court room, where Steve could have judged 5 nominees for Best Something or Other. Best Caterer. On a movie everybody gets credit when the credits roll, except the caterers. Steve could fix that.

Even better how about Best Comedy? Still too way out for the Oscars? Too many accountants, too many producers, what is it? Snobbery? As Penelope Cruz, reminded us, isn't it all about Art, making movies? Didn't Shakespeare write comedies? Not a legitimate art form yet? Nice to see Penelope win, this sparkling waif from Spain, but why didn't she bring Pedro Almódovar or Woody? Woody could have explained it. After all Hollywood produces more comedies than the serious sort of movies the Academy prefers.

Every time there's a great comedy or a great comic performance it's ignored by the Academy. Did Bob Hope ever get one for one of his many fabulous performances? Did Charlie Chaplin? Peter Sellers did get a nomination for Dr Strangelove but Rex Harrison won for My Fair Lady. What about Steve Martin for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? Or Jim Carrey for Dumb and Dumber? Kevin Kline did get one for his over the top performance in A Fish Called Wanda, but maybe that was the first and last time at the Oscars. Since Kline wasn't branded a comedian until then, he just missed being hit by the Hollywood curse on comedians. Thanks and here's your lunch pail. You can't eat at the Craft table, the crew will choke on their paté sandwiches. And comedians keep insulting the producers. Nowadays there's 30 of them on any shoot minding everybody's business except their own. Imagine even one comedian at lunch in the producers' tent. Who is this guy? Don't we have any real actors in this movie?

OK I'm lying. Comedians aren't socially ostracized or unappreciated in Hollywood. The writers are. They don't even let them on set or into parties. Writers look like nobodies. Steve should go to the Academy and complain. Maybe he could get Ben Stiller to poke his head in first through the Academy doors. The lost and crazy Rabbi would be a shoe-in, though all the critics said it was Joaquin Phoenix in the beard, but he wasn't rapping, so I don't know. But if there was a comic moment on the 2009 Oscars, that was it. Now I see maybe I am right about Hollywood's dirty little secret, the curse on comedy.

I really missed all the other missing bits of comedy, even the dumb standup jokes we used to get or the brilliant montages from Billy Crystal, the dancing. Though there was one fluff piece on comedies in review by who were these guys anyway? Who did an off the wall sort of Ted and Bill's Excellent Adventure with a foreign cinematographer on a TV couch. Ouch. That's us again, watching all this stuff. Why doesn't Coke send us all tickets for next year's Oscars instead of spending billions on advertising? Are you there Coke? Or is it all about the money? C'mon, let the good times roll! For people, not just for actors on Coke commercials. This is supposed to rub off on us, all of Italy, if we scrounge around for a Coke Cooler, and break one open? C'mon. Suddenly every girl's a model with her Diet Coke? Heart health with Diet Coke? Bull or bulimia. Stop this crazy stuff. We got to live!

It was a friendlier and more generous Oscars too. The Big Five moments certainly made all the losers happier. Great tributes to all the talented actors who might have all won Oscars if they were giving out 5 at a time. They're not solid gold anymore, though heavy enough silver-gold electrum dipped in pure gold.

It was a happy show with no worries about long boring acceptance speeches. Were they all coached on rehearsal night by friends of Ryan Seacrest? This is what we do on Idol. Let me find Simon and the gang. We do Idol at the Kodak anyway. Cut to: later. I thought it was good, but not good enough, I can hear Simon complaining. Remember you've won the Oscar. Talk like a winner. You still look like a loser thanking people we don't know, don't care about. So what if she's your mother?

No trouble with the politically incorrect or activists like Michael Moore who started the 7 second delay when he went balistic for Bush. Steve was there as Oscar's Host. Maybe that's why he was sort of glum with Jenn? Off the cuff Steve delivered the best quip in Oscar History. Don't worry Michael. We've got some Teamsters outside who'll drive you home, in the trunk of your limo. A quiet night.

There was an incident almost. Sean Penn did break through the 7 second delay with his You Commie homo-loving sons of guns. A bit more of that and the kill button for sure.

But Sean throttled through with his charm and made us all feel good about the courage it took to be real in Hollywood, at least once in awhile. Might have worked out better if the Academy hadn't ignored Brokeback Mountain and Heath Ledger last time. A bittersweet victory too late. You know Hollywood. The Dark Knight the moviegoers' favorite only got dusted with two technical Oscars, got one for Heath too.

When was the last time an actor with a ton of makeup got an Oscar? There was Jack, but not for his Joker, which was formidable like Heath's.

It's a bit of Academy snobbery and we see the need for snobbery sometimes, to enshrine Art and keep the popular pop stuff in its place. Funny though the Academy often ignores the big Art picture for a mainstream yawn. Usually they're foreign pictures anyway and too Arty which some of them aren't. Some are simply fantastic. Even American classics have been ignored like Citizen Kane, your king-size Art House picture. Even the more stylistically subdued great pictures like the 1985 White Nights with Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines should have won. John Frankenheimer, a legendary American director with films like The Train with Burt Lancaster in 1965, through to the 1998 Ronin with Deniro. Art movies that happen to be action pictures. And he never got a single Academy Nomination for Best Director. Then there are tons of other Art movies from Europe. Some of Wim Wenders, some of Lars Von Trier, a great trove of really super movies from France like Tavernier, Bertrand Blier, Claude Berry and many more great and charming directors and their work.

Nice that Heath was remembered. Nobody could complain, not even the losers losing to Heath. But if it's any consolation, rumor has it that many actors really don't get much out of an Oscar after the glow wears off. Maybe it's another curse. It doesn't make sense, but some actors become one hit wonders.
Maybe they lose out because the scripts that come in later are for do this bit again will ya? Or don't come in because, well we don't have the budget for an Oscar Winner. Of course Meryl Streep proves all this wrong, with 15 nominations and two wins. Once again she was there nominated, and could have won a dozen other times. But then some who don't win go into depression and others get more work, better scripts, more money and a steady career. So don't worry Mickey Rourke.

The highpoint came with Sean Penn's win for Milk, but as important and more in keeping with Art house films, The Reader gave Kate Winslet her well deserved Oscar. It helps if you're sexy and a serious actress too, sorry actor. Perfectly good word "actress" with a long history of them, with actresses as royal mistresses back to Charles II. History not politically correct. Still isn't, but I guess we're making progress, though to what end? How often does history surprise us by turning a corner we hadn't expected? But some things don't change. In Hollywood it's still about making it.

The focus certainly was on Slumdog, a Hollywood fable that made it to the screen like a Cinderella that might have turned into pumkin curry if not for a bit of luck. Imagine only one producer! And he was always short of cash. Almost didn't happen many times. With Slumdog the Oscars picked one of their dreams to come true. But it was a great movie, so everybody was happy, except maybe the Benjamin Button people who had all the fireworks, a gimmick, and a big star.

Nice work too on the songs from Slumdog, with Japanese drumming thrown in, though it worked.

It was Danny Boyle's golden moment and the kids from Slumdog too who are all heros now back in India. Touching really, that Bollywood is finally celebrated in Hollywood. Sure took a long time, but we're glad that moviegoers might now get lucky and dip into some new DVDs that might be released from a giant archive of splashy Indian musicals that you could only get in some Indian shops along with brass and incense. Not long ago it was scratchy washed-out pirated transfers on Betamax from the shoebox under the counter. You are wanting these? We have new Battlestar Galactica in Hindi?

Hooray for Hollywood!