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The only thing more disappointing was how subdued Jerry Lewis was in accepting his Jean Herscholt Humanitarian award. Not a single "Hey laaaaadies." He must've been on his meds.
IT'S AN EIGHT-DOG NIGHT
Slumdog Millionaire Takes Home Eight Oscars, Including Best Picture
The little film that could definitely did on Oscar night, as Slumdog Millionaire mirrored its raga-to-riches saga by winning eight of the coveted statues, including Best Picture, Best Director for Danny Boyle and two for composer A.R. Rahman at the 81st annual ceremony. It was the most for an honoree since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won 11 in 2004.

For the most part, the evening went according to the pre-show touts. The other top awards went to Best Actor Sean Penn for his portrayal of the late gay rights activist Harvey Milk and Kate Winslet as Best Actress as an illiterate concentration camp guard in The Reader. Supporting nods went to the late Heath Ledger's final performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight and Penelope Cruz as Javier Bardem's ditzy ex-wife in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

With filmmakers Laurence Mark and Bill Condon handling the production, the show itself seemed to be the most relevant in years, the awards being given out in a narrative resembling how movies themselves are made, from pre- to post-production, with the year in various film genres such as comedy, romance, action and animation summarized in film packages. In another departure, the acting nominees in each category were introduced by past winners, a chance to roll out some old-school glamor, including Sophia Loren, and the glittering set, with its multiple screens and special effects, looked just fine in high-def.

Host Hugh Jackman, a departure from the stand-up comics usually called in, proved an adept and charming MC, participating in a couple of full-on dance numbers, including a salute to classic movie music with Beyonce, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens.

The much-ballyhooed Bollywood production, featuring a medley of the nominated songs, had the two Slumdog Millionaire entries, "O Saya" and the winning "Jai Ho," sandwiched around Wall-E's "Down to Earth," sung by John Legend instead of Peter Gabriel, who turned down the opportunity when he learned it wouldn't be a full performance.

Some of the evening's highlights included Ben Stiller in a Joaquin Phoenix beard and chewing gum, a reference to the actor's recent David Letterman appearance which seemed to go over the audience's head; a Pineapple Express parody with Seth Rogen and James Franco revewing the year's comedies from their couch, and the Japanese winner for Best Animated short finishing his acceptance speech in halting English with a nod to Styx by uttering, "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto."

The night's one big upset came in the Best Foreign Film category, where the obscure Japanese entry, Departures, beat out the much-touted Israeli movie Waltz With Bashir and the French entry, The Class, which had to be chalked up to an Anti-Zionist conspiracy. The only thing more disappointing was how subdued Jerry Lewis was in accepting his Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award. Not a single "Hey laaaaady." He must've been on his meds.

For a full list of winners, go to www.oscar.com.

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