Here are the results for the 81st ACADEMY AWARDS. Of course, if you just want to know what should have been nominated and who really should have won these awards, just head on out to the 2008 Golden Mugs.

● Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

● Director: Danny Boyle

● Actor: Sean Penn (Milk)
– Should Win: Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) –

● Actress: Kate Winslet (The Reader)
– Should Win: Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) –

● Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

● Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona)
– Should Win: Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) –

● Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire

● Original Screenplay: Milk

● Foreign Film: Waltz with Bashir
– Should Win: The Class Really, I’d be happy with any of the other films because I couldn’t stand the experience of watching Waltz with Bashir but it seems to be a juggernaut on its way to picking up the statuette.
– Did Win: Departures –

● Documentary Feature: Man on Wire

● Animated Feature Film: WALL·E

● Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire

● Film Editing: Slumdog Millionaire

● Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

● Costume: The Duchess

● Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

● Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

● Sound Editing: The Dark Knight

● Sound Mixing: The Dark Knight
– Did Win: Slumdog Millionaire –

● Original Score: A.R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire)

● Original Song: “Jai Ho” (Slumdog Millionaire)

● Documentary Short Subject: The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306
– Did Win: Smile Pinki –

● Animated Short Film: Presto
– Did Win: La Maison en Petits Cubes –

● Live Action Short Film: Toyland

The Aftermath: This year was my best ever; I got 20 out of 24 (83%) correct, including a perfect 8 out of 8 in the major categories (Picture, Director, Acting & Screenplay awards). And considering three of those incorrect picks dealt with the more esoteric categories that have slightly altered voting structures, I’m really pleased with the result.

As for the show, I will say that Hugh Jackman did an okay job … at least in the sense of staying out of the way. Sure, he had a few musical numbers (which largely missed the mark or were flat out terrible like that hot mess celebrating the popularity of the musical) but there was a large stretch where he seemed to disappear completely and I didn’t even notice until he resurfaced.

Also, while I know there’s a lot of bias in this statement, I’d rather Anne Hathaway have hosted because she’s got a terrific singing voice, is easy on the eyes and exudes such wonderful compassion and sincerity that I could have forgiven so much of the trite mediocrity that dominated the material Jackman had to perform.

I’ll start with the negative aspects I suppose, just to switch things up. First off, when will the Academy learn to shave the runtime of the show to under two and half hours? There’s no need (aside from selling commericals) to drag the whole proceeding out. If you can award the last three awards (picture, actor, actress) all in about 15 minutes, what makes it so hard to do the others in a similar manner of time?

I will admit that the number of video packages seemed to have been reduced this year, so I’m thankful for that. However, there’s still room to cut even more. What the hell were the genre retrospectives? While the comedy package was mildly amusing because of Seth Rogen and James Franco doing their bit, the others were just a waste of time.

Also, the idea of bringing out past winners to speak about each of the actors up for awards was a complete time-suck. Their speeches were too obviously scripted and felt overly sentimental.

The Best Song musical compilation performance was a disaster. First off, thanks to the ridiculously convoluted nomination process, there were many songs (most notably “The Wrester” by Bruce Springsteen) that were left out. As a result, only three songs made the nominations cut. At that point, why are you cutting each of them down and compiling them into a medley? Let us enjoy these wonderful songs … don’t think that cutting a few minutes from this portion justifies one of the useless video packages, Academy.

The Memorium section got a revamp and it was pretty much all for the worse. While Queen Latifah gave an excellent performance, the focus of this element should be on those in the industry who have passed on. By cutting back to Latifah, panning the camera repeatedly around the main screen and constantly switching from wide to close shots, it became difficult to focus on remembering all the great work of those fallen actors, directors, writers and craftsmen and women.

And for those of you wondering why there was no Heath Ledger tribute, keep in mind that he died on January 22nd of 2008, and was included in last year’s Memorium package.

Last on my naughty list is the Best Picture montage video piece during the award presentation. By inserting a number of other Best Picture nominated films into the sequence, it completely detracted from the films nominated this year and cheapened their impact. More often than not, I was too busy being annoyed at how much the clip of some prior film didn’t match up with the current film to remember the good things about them.

Okay, so what DID go right this year? Well, I guess I can say that the show overall didn’t annoy me as much as it has in the past. Of course, that’s because it was so bland from start to finish that I could never really build up some of the vitriolic bile I’m accustomed to. (While many must have found the Ben Stiller / Joaquin Phoenix bit to be funny, if you had seen the Independent Spirit Awards, they did it far better and even mixed it in with the Christian Bale debacle.)

And normally, I can point to at least one production element that worked well but nothing that was produced for the show gave me any sort of satisfaction. Actually, every single good element was a result of the acceptance speeches:

After winning Best Original Screenplay for Milk, writer Dustin Lance Black delivered a poignant and heartfelt speech about tolerance.

Kunio Kato (Animated Short – La Maison en Petit Cubes) erased much of the sting of being wrong about the category by uttering “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto”.

The family members of Heath Ledger gave a concise, diginified speech about Heath’s performance and impact on the world.

After Man on Wire took the Best Documentary award, Philip Petit (literally the man on the wire) was quite charming performing a simple coin disappearance and making a few humorous comments.

And although some of what Sean Penn talked about in relation to basic civil rights (especially as pertaining to the gay community) came off as a bit preachy, I loved that he called all those who voted for him “commie, homo-loving sons of guns” and that he singled out Mickey Rourke’s performance as being particularly excellent and worthy. However, in not thanking his wife, I’m hoping he’s not sleeping on the couch this week.

So, that’s really about it. Normally, I rant and rave a bit more but there really wasn’t much at all to speak of this year. “Bland” is the best word to describe the effort and I can only hope that next year, for better or worse, there are more elements to love and/or hate – just to make it more interesting.

So now that the awards have been handed out, I can only hope that something in 2009 inspires me as much as “Slumdog Millionaire” or “The Wrestler” so that when the 82nd Oscars rear their monstrous head in about year, I’m just as excited about watching deserving films get their just dues.