These were the winners in the major categories at the Academy Awards held last night.
(The Academy’s clumsy system means that the awards for 2008 films are held in 2009, leading to constant future confusion about which year the awards were “for.” But let’s not be bitter.)
- Best actress: Kate Winslet for The Reader
- Best actor: Sean Penn for Milk
- Best supporting actress: Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Best supporting actor: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight
- Best director: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
- Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Ledger is only the second person to win an acting Oscar after death. The first was Peter Finch, the raving “I’m not going to take it any more” newscaster from the 1976 film Network. Finch died of a heart attack two months before winning best actor in 1977. Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose in January of 2008, 13 months before his Oscar win.
Winslet had been nominated five times before without winning: for Sense and Sensibility (1995, supporting role); Titanic (1997, leading role); Iris (2001, supporting role); Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, leading role); and Little Children (2006, leading role).
Slumdog Millionaire was the night’s big winner, picking up eight total Oscars: best picture, director, cinematography, adapted screenplay, film editing, sound mixing, original score and song.
The success of Slumdog Millionaire made it a banner year for British nominees, who won nearly half of all the available Oscars.