The 81st Annual Academy Awards

oscarI’ll admit it: one of the reasons I watch the Academy Awards is the dresses. But really, is it not so for most women? It’s been hailed as the fashion event to watch, with the world’s top designers all thrown together in one place, and press releases issued by fashion houses hours before the show to stake their claim on the stars who are wearing their designs to the greatest awards show of the year. It’s how people know about the daring, unconventional Elie Saab gown Halle Berry slopped all over the year she won the Best Actress Oscar, the sweet pink Chanel and vibrant yellow Lanvin-Castillo Nicole Kidman and Jada Pinkett-Smith wore respectively the year Halle Berry slopped all over her Elie Saab, the regal Vera Wang that made Keira Knightley look just a little less like a beanpole, the dramatic Christian Dior that Charlize Theron gift-wrapped herself in (contrary to most of the fashion critics, I absolutely love this gown, and I wish I had the height and frame to pull it off), and, of course, The Swan, a dress so heinously infamous it needs no other form of introduction, and whose designer and endorser nobody cared to know anymore.

Another reason I watch the Academy Awards is the host. Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, and my favorite — Whoopi Goldberg. And this year, when Hugh Jackman was announced as the host of the 81st Academy Awards, I went, “Ooooohhh!” right before my left eyebrow hoisted itself up. As much of a fan as I am, I had never seen Hugh Jackman in any comedic roles, and God knows everyone was in need of some comic relief to lift them out — if only for one night — of the slump the flailing economy had stomped them into.

But after finally catching a rerun of the show, I have to say that this year’s show was one of the most entertaining I’ve watched in a long time, and largely thanks to the host. It was extremely refreshing to see him in a role that didn’t require metal of any sort, and even though he had previously hosted the 2004 Tony Awards, this Oscar stint has succeeded in breaking him out of the buffed-up superhero stereotype. The man can sing, dance, play host and work his charm in a way that is rarely seen in today’s woefully synthetic, talentless world conquered by reality shows, and the performances made this year’s show the one most worth watching in recent years.

Hugh Jackman’s opening number with Anne Hathaway

“The musical is back!” With Beyoncé Knowles, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Amanda Seyfried and Benjamin Cooper

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