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    And the winner is…

Helen MirrenLast night’s Academy Awards were less about the winners and their fantastic outfits, and more about the sheer pleasure in being nominated. Host Ellen DeGeneres applauded the nominees and brought out a full gospel choir to serenade them. This year, for the first time it seemed the phrase “It’s an honor just to be nominated” was actually true.

It should be an honor just to be nominated. For the rest of your life you are known as “Oscar Nominee so-and-so”. You will forever be in a class of actors and movie professionals above the rest of Hollywood.

This year, especially, it must have been wonderful just to be nominated. In a year when Dame Judy Dench tells gamblers not to bet on her for Best Actress, you know the competition is fierce. Of course, the good Dame was right, as another British Dame won that coveted title. Helen Mirren took home the golden statue for her performance in The Queen.

There were three somewhat unexpected nominees this year, at least in my opinion. Abigail Breslin for Best Supporting Actress in Little Miss Sunshine, Ryan Gosling for Best Actor in Half Nelson and Mark Wahlberg for Best Supporting Actor in The Departed. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t say these are surprising because they’re not good actors. Quite the opposite, actually. I didn’t think the Academy would recognize the talents of slightly offbeat actors. Breslin is, after all, only ten-years-old. Gosling is one of my favorite actors, but in Half Nelson he plays a drug addict school teacher – not exactly a role model. Wahlberg, who I would cast in any movie ever, is a rougher, harder-edged actor than the Academy likes to recognize. To prove my point, none of them won in their respective categories.

Mark WahlbergOverall the winners seemed deserved. Helen Mirren was fantastic as Queen Elizabeth II. Martin Scorsese finally won for Director, and his film The Departed won the coveted Best Picture Award as well as for Best Adapted Screenplay.

I can’t speak to the Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories, since I didn’t see the movies that won (Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland, Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine and Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls, respectively). However, I know who I would have liked to win the first two: either Ryan Gosling or Will Smith for Best Actor, and Mark Wahlberg for Best Supporting Actor.

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