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March 1, 2009

Did you miss the Oscars?

By Sister Helena Burns, FSP


So, who wants to rehash old news? Well, you know how pizza often tastes better the next day? For those who missed the Oscars or fell asleep during the Oscars or didn’t watch even half of the Oscar-nominated movies, this mini retrospective is for you.

Of course you know that “Slumdog Millionaire” swept the Oscars with eight wins. Why? Probably because it’s the little movie that could. It might as well be called “Underdog Millionaire.”

Various winners of the night reiterated: “Anything is possible. Work hard. Don’t give up.” Perhaps “Slumdog” encapsulates this Hollywood dream. It boasts an unusual story line (along with being fantastically unbelievable), amazing child actors and is a feel-good romp with a pounding, dance-friendly, Bollywoodmeets- Harlem soundtrack (which won Best Original Score and Song).

Decide for yourself if it should have won eight awards including Best Picture.

My pick for best picture: “Benjamin Button” — a beautiful and difficult story to tell, an incredible moviemaking feat, pulled off with flying technicolors.

“Benjamin Button” did win for Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects. These were important categories for it to win because these are what made the movie. It wasn’t really an actors’ movie. However, it was a director’s movie, and I think David Fincher should have won.

Best Actor: Sean Penn for “Milk,” the story of California’s first openly homosexual elected official. Both Penn and writer Lance Black (who won Best Original Screenplay) took the opportunity to advocate for “gay marriage rights.”

I actually have no problem with celebrities using their notoriety or award ceremonies for political activism, but, of course, there is no such thing as “gay marriage,” and Penn and Black are only adding to the confusion.

The part of Black’s tearful speech about the fact that God loves same-sex attracted people (my terminology) and that they deserve to be treated with dignity was truly touching, and I couldn't agree more.

The curious case here is that if Hollywood espouses a cause, celebrities may blather all they want about it. But do you remember the rebuke Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon received simply mentioning their opposition to the second Iraq War?

For all their hatred of censorship, Hollywood demands that its stars espouse the “right” causes only.

Best Actress: Uber-talented Kate Winslet for “The Reader,” nominated six times with no previous wins. This Oscar felt misplaced (like Denzel Washington winning for “Training Day” when he should have won for “Malcolm X”), especially with the other incredible female performances “The Reader” was up against here.

Burns, who ministers in Chicago, has a philosophy/ theology degree from St. John’s University, N.Y., and studied screenwriting at the University of California-Los Angeles.

To read more of Burns’ thoughts on the Oscars visit