British Sweep Oscars, Germany Leaves With Short Film Award | Culture | Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 23.02.2009

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British Sweep Oscars, Germany Leaves With Short Film Award

The 81st Academy Awards which took place at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday unfolded more or less according to predictions -- and that included long faces among the Germans present.

The big acting winners: Kate Winslet, Sean Penn and Penelope Cruz

The big acting winners: Kate Winslet, Sean Penn and Penelope Cruz

The stars of the biggest night of the year in the film world, Hollywood's annual Oscar gala, were the cast and crew of "Slumdog Millionaire," a feelgood movie about Mumbai slum-dwellers.

British director Danny Boyle's latest movie capped its rags-to- riches story on Sunday, Feb. 22, when it earned eight of the coveted statuettes.

Director Danny Boyle's tale about the rise of an impoverished orphan to the final of India's most popular quiz show earned the top gong for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, cinematography, original score, sound mixing, film editing and original song.

Sean Penn won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of a the first openly gay politician in the US in the movie "Milk," while Kate Winslet won the Oscar for Best Actress.

A sensitive subject

Kate Winslet

It remains to be seen what Germany makes of "The Reader"

It was a first win for the British actress, after five unsuccessful nominations. Winslet won for her portrayal of an illiterate former Nazi prison guard in the movie "The Reader," based on the bestselling 1995 novel by German writer Bernhard Schlink.

The film is set for general release in Germany later this week but has already divided opinion among critics in Britain, where it opened last month.

"Everyone involved in this film is of the highest possible caliber, but their combined and formidable talents could not annul my queasiness that the question of Nazi war guilt and the death camps had been reimagined in terms of a middlebrow sentimental-erotic fantasy," wrote The Guardian's film critic Peter Bradshaw in January.

Other winners

Australian actor Heath Ledger, meanwhile, won the Oscar for best-supporting actor, more than a year after he died from an accidental drug overdose at the age of 28. Ledger was honored for his portrayal of the manic criminal the Joker in the Batman movie "The Dark Knight."

His award was accepted by his family, who received a standing ovation as they made their way to the stage.

The first prize of the evening went to Penelope Cruz for best-supporting actress in Woody Allen's movie Vicky Christina Barcelona.

German hopes dashed

A poster for The Baader Meinhof Complex

Eichinger's movie failed to resonate with the Academy judges

Germany went home empty-handed in the full-length film categories, losing out on the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar to Japan's "Departures," a film about a classical musician who prepares bodies for burial. Its win was one of the evening's surprises, beating the favored Israeli entry "Waltz With Bashir," one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year.

German entry "The Baader Meinhof Complex," about far-left radicals the Red Army Faction -- which carried out a 30-year campaign of bombings, killings, and kidnappings in Germany -- was represented by producer Bernd Eichinger, director Uli Ede and actors Johanna Wokalek, Moritz Bleibtreu and Martina Gedeck.

It was Eichinger's second nomination and second disappointment. Four years ago, his movie "Downfall" about Hitler's last days also failed to snag a best foreign film trophy.

However, Jochen Alexander Freydank's "Spielzeugland" (Toyland) went home with the Oscar for the Best Short Film (Live Action). The story of a young German boy who believes his Jewish neighbors are going to Toyland was the first Academy Award nomination for Freydank.

Author: Jane Paulick based on the sources dpa, AP

Edited: Nick Amies

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