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81st Oscars 11:26 p.m.

Posted by Wesley Morris  February 22, 2009 11:26 PM

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That is a titanic best-actress assembly to pay tribute to this year's actress nominees. MacLaine. Berry. Kidman. Cotillard. And Loren. I'm tearing up. I'm not sure why. It's really quite wonderful. MacLaine's words to Anne Hathaway are really those of an acting coach and a grandmother: a private, seemingly heartfelt appreciation for the whole world to hear. Under these circumstances, they're all winners, but the Oscar goes to Kate Winslet, and the crowd goes a little bit nuts. She's just asked her father to whistle so she can find him. He does. Who is this man, with the nice hat and sly grin? Mickey Rourke eat your heart out. (Quick research reveals Papa Winslet is an actor, too.) This is Winslet's best speech of her recent circuit. The "suck it up" moment to Meryl Streep is practically Streepian.

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