2009 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
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Academy Awards History (By Decade):
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
Winners Charts:
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®


2009

Picture:
"THE HURT LOCKER", "Avatar," "The Blind Side," "District 9," "An Education,""Inglourious Basterds," "Precious," "A Serious Man," "Up," "Up in the Air"
Animated Feature Film:
"UP," "Coraline," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "The Princess and the Frog," "The Secret of Kells"
Actor:
JEFF BRIDGES in "Crazy Heart," George Clooney in "Up in the Air," Colin Firth in "A Single Man," Morgan Freeman in "Invictus," Jeremy Renner in "The Hurt Locker"
Actress:
SANDRA BULLOCK in "The Blind Side," Helen Mirren in "The Last Station," Carey Mulligan in "An Education," Gabourey Sidibe in "Precious," Meryl Streep in "Julie & Julia"
Supporting Actor:
CHRISTOPH WALTZ in "Inglourious Basterds," Matt Damon in "Invictus," Woody Harrelson in "The Messenger," Christopher Plummer in "The Last Station," Stanley Tucci in "The Lovely Bones"
Supporting Actress:
MO'NIQUE in "Precious," Penelope Cruz in "Nine," Vera Farmiga in "Up in the Air," Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Crazy Heart," Anna Kendrick in "Up in the Air"
Director:
KATHRYN BIGELOW for "The Hurt Locker," James Cameron for "Avatar," Lee Daniels for "Precious," Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air," Quentin Tarantino for "Inglourious Basterds"


The Hurt Locker (2009)In 2009, the Academy decided to return to featuring an expanded field of nominees for Best Picture. From now on, there would be ten films nominated for Best Picture instead of five - the last time this happened was 1943 (66 years ago). [From 1931 to 1943, the Oscars had between eight and 12 Best Picture nominees.] This change was expected to result in:

  1. a box-office (or DVD sales) boost for more pictures, with some smaller movies getting more exposure
  2. a possible increase in TV ratings for the awards ceremony (held two weeks later than last year), and
  3. enhanced interest in a broader and varied range of types of films that were more populist or mainstream in nature (e.g., the sports weepie The Blind Side, Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, the animated Up and the gritty sci-fi alien drama District 9), mixed in with independent fare and specialty films

Unexpectedly, there were no foreign-language, traditional comedies, musicals or documentary choices in the expanded Best Picture category. This year featured one of the most even distributions of top nominees, with five films receiving at least six nominations, and no film receiving more than nine. Six of the top 10 contenders were released in the fourth quarter of the year -- only Up, The Hurt Locker, District 9, and Inglourious Basterds were released earlier. In addition to Avatar, four Best Picture-nominated films had grossed over $100 million domestically. [Last year, only one of the five Best Picture nominees had done so, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).]

The Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, a low-budget film from Summit Entertainment with a production budget of $15 million, turned out to be the lowest-grossing winner of all-time, at $14.7 million at the time of its win. It was also the fifth consecutive R-rated Best Picture winner, and the second of only two Best Picture winners to be a film festival acquisition (the first was in 2005).

Two films shared the most Oscar nominations (nine) and competed in a dead heat in the period between the nominations and awards: the science-fiction/fantasy visual effects masterpiece Avatar and the tense, nail-biting Iraq war-related drama The Hurt Locker from female director Kathryn Bigelow. Bigelow's film went on to earn six wins (Best Original Screenplay (Mark Boal), Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing, Best Director and Best Picture) and upended Cameron's (and Fox's) blockbuster film of all-time (at $720 million when the Oscars were presented). It marked a milestone win for a female director (and American director), the first ever. The suspenseful tale was about bomb defuser SFC Willliam James (nominated Jeremy Renner) whose recklessness and addiction to risk endangered his bomb squad support team.

In addition, Disney's/Pixar's animated film Up, the second animated film ever nominated for Best Picture (and the first computer-animated film ever nominated for Best Picture), won two Oscar awards: Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Score, and was one of the top moneymakers of the year (at $293 million to date).

Five other Best Picture nominees scored at least one win, including (in descending order):

There were four Best Picture nominees that were complete shut-outs!

The nominees for Best Director represented a very diverse group (including ex-spouses). All five Best Director nominees were attached to Best Picture nominees, though unsurprising due to the presence of ten Best Picture nominations rather than the usual five. The films of the five Best Director-nominees had the highest number of nominations for Best Picture. It is fairly safe to assume that if there had only been 5 Best Picture nominees, the picks would have paralleled the five nominated directors. There were two first-time nominees, and three second-time nominees.

The Best Director winner was 58 year-old Kathryn Bigelow (her first nomination) for The Hurt Locker. It was an historic win - she became the first woman ever to win in the category. [Note: Bigelow was the second American woman nominated as Best Director (following Sofia Coppola in 2003), and only the fourth woman nominated in the category. Bigelow won the Directors Guild Award, the first woman ever to win the top award from the DGA, a solid predictor of her eventual win since the DGA feature film award winner went on to win the Academy Award for Best Director all but six times since 1948. Ironically, Bigelow was James Cameron's ex-wife. Action film director Bigelow had been a collaborator with fellow nominee James Cameron, who executive-produced Point Break (1991) and was also writer-producer for her film Strange Days (1995). The longtime Oscar snub Bigelow also directed such overlooked films as Near Dark (1987) and Blue Steel (1989).]

The other Best Director nominees were:

For the first time since 2002, there were enough eligible animated films released (17) to warrant five nominations instead of three. Strangely, the nominees included two classically cel-animated films, two stop-motion animated films, and only one CGI-animated film! Did this signal a trend back to traditional animation techniques? Three animated films received at least two nominations, an unprecedented feat in Oscar history.

The Animated Feature Film winner was the heavily-favored, Best Picture-nominated Disney/Pixar film Up (with five nominations and two wins including Best Original Score), a CGI-animated film about cantankerous, bitter 70 year-old widower Carl Fredricksen (voice of Edward Asner) who launched his house into the air using hundreds of helium balloons to travel to South America, while slowly befriending an accidental 8 year-old stowaway Boy Scout named Russell. It was the third consecutive Oscar in this category for Disney/Pixar, following Ratatouille (2007) and Wall-E (2008), that has now won 5/9 awards since the new category was established in 2001.

The other four nominees were:

Among the 20 nominees for acting nominations, there were 12 first-time nominees, 5 previous Oscar winners, and 3 previous Oscar contenders (with Meryl Streep as the only two-time winner in contention again). Three of the four acting awards went to first-time nominees. All four winners were favorites that were almost universally predicted to win: previous nominee Jeff Bridges and first-timer Sandra Bullock (both with long careers without wins), and first-timers with formidable performances: Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique.

The Best Actor winner was front-runner, 60 year-old Jeff Bridges (his fifth nomination and first win) for his performance as broken-down, aging, boozy country-music singer Bad Blake, in first-time director Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart (three nominations, not including Best Picture, with two wins, Best Actor and Best Original Song "The Weary Kind"). (Bridges previously had an unsuccessful lead nomination for Starman (1984), and three unsuccessful supporting nominations for The Last Picture Show (1971), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) and The Contender (2000)) [Note: Real-life country singer Waylon Jennings was sought for the role, a combination of Jennings himself, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, but passed away before he could be cast. Bridges did his own singing and guitar playing in the film, including Jennings' own "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way."]

The other Best Actor nominees included:

The Best Actress nominations included Meryl Streep's astounding 16th acting nomination, but the award went to the actress with the most momentum, 45 year-old Sandra Bullock (her first nomination) as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a saintly, strong-willed, wealthy Southern suburban mother who took in a homeless African-American teen - football player Michael Oher (now a star player for the Baltimore Ravens), in The Blind Side.
[Bullock was previously a longtime Oscar snub, despite her performances in Speed (1994), While You Were Sleeping (1995), Practical Magic (1998), Miss Congeniality (2000), Crash (2004), and Infamous (2006). Already the winner of the Critics Choice Award, the Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for her lead role in The Blind Side, Bullock received her first, long-overdue Oscar. However, she also marked a career low-point as the Razzie winner for Worst Actress and Worst Screen Couple (shared with co-star Bradley Cooper) for her role in Worst Picture-nominated flop All About Steve - a film she produced! Bullock became the first person ever to win a Razzie and an Oscar in the same year.]

The other Best Actress nominees were:

The Best Supporting Actor nominations included nods for two actors, Christopher Plummer and Stanley Tucci, whose work had been long overlooked by the Academy. However, the winner was the expected victor: 53 year-old Austrian Christoph Waltz (with his first nomination) as diabolical, over-the-top, seductively-charming villainous "Jew hunter" and quadri-lingual Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (whose performance has been compared to Javier Bardem's in No Country For Old Men (2007)), in Inglourious Basterds.

The other Best Supporting Actor nominees were:

The Best Supporting Actress nominations included two nominations for Up in the Air, and four first-time nominees. The winner was the heavily-favored nominee, 42 year-old Mo'Nique (with her first nomination) for her role as the reprehensible Mary - the cruel abusive, inner-city welfare mother of a pregnant 16 year-old high school student who turns a blind eye to her husband's incestuous rape of her daughter, in Precious.

The other Best Supporting Actress nominees were:

Oscar Snubs and Omissions:

Although the popular rebooted franchise film Star Trek received four technical nominations (including Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects and an expected win for Best Makeup), it was denied a spot in the enlarged Best Picture category. With its single Best Makeup win, it became the first Academy Award-winner in the entire history of the Star Trek series. It was unlikely that the top-grossing R-rated comedy The Hangover would also be one of the top nominees, but its omission was noticed. Clint Eastwood's Invictus, about Nelson Mandela's interaction with a white rugby team, came up with two acting nominations (Best Actor for Morgan Freeman as Mandela, and Best Supporting Actor for Matt Damon, although their categories seemed inexplicably switched), but there was no Best Picture or Best Director nod (for a director who won two of his three Oscars for directing Best Picture champs: Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004)).

Past Oscar-winning Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, an adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel, received only one nomination, for Best Supporting Actor (Stanley Tucci) - although Tucci should have more appropriately received a nod for his portrayal of Julia Child's supportive husband Paul in Julie & Julia. And Rob Marshall's musical Nine came up with only four nominations (Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song, and Best Supporting Actress - Penelope Cruz) and no wins, although it had many prominent stars in the ensemble cast including Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman and Marion Cotillard. An Education's three nominations with no wins (Best Actress, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay) neglected Alfred Molina's supporting role as Jenny's overprotective, bigoted suburban London father Jack.

Many of 2009's films admired by some film critics, such as Michael Jackson's This is It, the post-apocalyptic tale The Road starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron, Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! with Matt Damon, Michael Mann's gangster-crime drama Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp (as John Dillinger), and Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are, were unaccounted for, as were director Mira Nair's highly tauted Amelia with two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as the legendary flyer, and British director Joe Wright's biographical drama The Soloist featuring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx (as real-life homeless street musician Nathaniel Ayers). Although nominated for three Oscars (including Best Art Direction, and Best Makeup) with a sole win for Best Costume Design, the romantic love story The Young Victoria was devoid of an acting nomination for Emily Blunt as the lead character. Director Marc Webb's offbeat breakup dramedy (500) Days of Summer was conspicuously absent from the list of Best Screenplay nominees.

Some of the populist, mainstream hits with tremendous box-office success (all of the following films topped $100 million, and are listed in descending order of box-office clout) were virtually non-existent in terms of Oscar:

However, big box-office wasn't a deterrent for a number of films, such as the British political satire In the Loop (with one nomination, Best Adapted Screenplay) - the first instance that a film that premiered on VOD (video-on-demand) concurrent with its theatrical release was nominated for a major Oscar. Or for Oren Moverman's The Messenger (with two nominations, Best Supporting Actor - Woody Harrelson and Best Original Screenplay - the only non-Best Picture-nominee to get a screenplay nod) - an Iraq-themed Sundance movie distributed by upstart Oscilloscope. The latter film could have had other cast members additionally nominated, including Ben Foster as reluctant, injured war hero SSgt. Will Montgomery assigned to the US Army Casualty Notification Office to assist Harrelson in delivering death news, and Samantha Morton as Army wife Olivia Pitterson - a newly-widowed mother. In The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner's co-stars Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty were conspicuously ignored, as was the central character in Best Picture-nominated District 9: the bumbling, incompetent, and beleaguered MNU field operative Wikus van de Merwe (portrayed by Sharlto Copley in an astounding debut performance).

The litle-seen exhilarating crime thriller Julia, due possibly to a token US film release, was little seen and completely neglected, including the Best Actress caliber performance of Tilda Swinton as desperate, troublesome, promiscuous, out-of-control alcoholic title character Julia who botched a get-rich-quick, crackpot kidnapping scheme. Also, outrageous Danish director Lars von Trier's controversial, nihilistic horror film Antichrist was shut out, although Charlotte Gainsbourg's portrayal of a grieving, pained, devastated mother (named She) was phenomenal (she was the Best Actress prize-winner at Cannes) - although it was tremendously shocking (with graphic scenes of genital mutilation).

Two actresses appeared to be denied recognition in supporting roles: Julianne Moore (who has never won an Oscar!) for her scene-stealing performance as British divorcee party girl Charley (opposite Best Actor-nominated Colin Firth) in the sorrowful love story A Single Man, and German actress Diane Kruger for her role as German movie starlet turned Allied spy Bridget von Hammersmark in Quentin Tarantino's lengthy WWII epic Inglourious Basterds. Brad Pitt was also bypassed in Tarantino's film as Tennessee-born Lt. Aldo Raine - leader of the Jewish commandoes eager for Nazi scalps. Actor Michael Stuhlbarg was missing from the nominees for his central role as physics professor Larry Gopnik in A Serious Man. Christian McKay was ignored for his supporting performance as the legendary filmmaker Orson Welles in Me and Orson Welles. Also neglected was Sam Rockwell's tour-de-force role in director Duncan Jones' Moon (no nominations, for either its director or screenplay) as solitary lunar mining specialist Sam Bell slowly driven insane and interacting with a mysterious doppelganger of himself. Both Oscar-nominated actors George Clooney and Jeff Bridges might have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for their roles as US Army psychic soldiers (dubbed "Jedi Warriors" in a New Earth Army), Lyn Cassady and Bill Django, in the M*A*S*H (1970)-like satire The Men Who Stare At Goats, Grant Heslov's directorial debut film.

The recognition given to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker was well deserved, but two other women were denied Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay nominations: Nora Ephron for Julie & Julia (with its sole nomination for Meryl Streep), and New Zealander writer/director Jane Campion for the romantic period piece about young British poet John Keats, Bright Star (with only one nomination for Best Costume Design). In the latter film, Abbie Cornish was also ignored for her critically-praised performance as Frances "Fanny" Brawne, an outspoken student who began a passionate but tragically short love affair with the poet.

In the Best Animated Feature Film category, Hayao Miyazaki's critically-acclaimed Ponyo was left out, as was the heavily-marketed animation Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Also ignored was Shane Acker's 9, a frightening, awe-inspiring PG-13 CGI-animated, post-apocalyptic film about small burlap "stitchpunk" robots who attempt to survive in a dark world full of terrifying machines; the film itself was an expansion of Acker's Oscar-nominated short 9 (2004).



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