By CAINE GARDNER
The glitter has dulled, the red carpet has been rolled up and again the Oscar has astounded me.
Even though I missed three picks, I was overall happy with the awards and host Hugh Jackman. Jackman's easy-going demeanor suits the show well and doesn't try to steal the show from the true reason people tune into the show.
The only issue I had came down to one of the final awards of the night. I've been pulling for Mickey Rourke most of the awards season, had my fingers crossed for Brad Pitt, would have accepted Frank Langella and didn't think Richard Jenkins had too much of a chance. I think all of these men are fine actors and deserved the recognition they received.
Then there is Sean Penn.
An obviously gifted actor, I knew he couldn't resist using the spotlight as his own soapbox to climb upon and spew his political beliefs to all of those watching. I have no problem with him saying a few words at the press conference or in the multitude of interview opportunities that follow the Oscars, but I can't stand for any actor to tell me, and all of America, how what we should believe. It's not an issue of what he said, it's an issue of timing.
Some actors and actresses have been part of or have formed organizations that bring focus to issues they believe strongly in and I support that, but when I tune into the Oscars, I want to see stars. I want to see the people who make the magic happen and see a select few singled out for their outstanding performances.
I don't want to see an actor use it as a platform to tell me what I should feel or believe. A well-informed person can do that all by himself or herself and doesn't need an actor to enlighten them.
Other than that, I thought the Oscars were a great success. The show moved at a decent pace, the winners were gracious and it seemed that everyone was having a good time. I liked the addition of previous winners announcing individual nominees in the major categories. I hope it's a tradition that continues.
The most powerful moment of the night belonged to the family of the late Heath Ledger. I was impressed with the fact that once his name was announced, you could see the reverence the audience had in their eyes. It was wonderful to see this outstanding actor awarded for a haunting performance no one will soon forget.
To all the winners -- bravo and thanks for a great year at the movies.