Congratulations to Heath Ledger and his family for the late actor’s Academy Award honoring his nuanced take on iconic Batman villain the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster film, The Dark Knight. Ledger’s victory in the Best Supporting Actor category comes as a surprise to nearly no one, as the real-life drama surrounding the 28-year-old actor’s untimely death coupled with his critically-acclaimed performance almost demanded Academy recognition.
However, one wonders if Ledger’s turn as the Clown Prince of Crime would have gotten the Oscar recognition that it received had Ledger been alive to accept the award himself. Would the Academy have voted similarly if Ledger’s arguably brilliant performance was not among his last? As host of the 81st Academy Awards and X-Men star Hugh Jackman pointed out in the ceremony’s opening number, comic book films typically aren’t top-shelf choices for awards outside of technical categories. Sadly, we’ll never quite know what kind of role emotion truly played in the Academy’s selection process.
Kudos are also in order for the big winners of the night, namely Sean Penn for his lauded performance as gay rights activist Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant’s Milk, Penélope Cruz for her supporting role in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Kate Winslet for her leading role as an ex-Nazi prison guard in Stephen Daldry’s The Reader and Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which picked up a staggering eight awards including Best Director and Best Picture.
Visit Oscar.com for a full list of winners and nominees.