I had the pleasure of being in the HTF chat room last evening with a few members who stopped on in to hang out and comment on the evening's festivities. Within the first 40 minutes, many of us were commenting on just how good this year's show was. It became obvious that finally, after all these years, someone had taken the initiative to approach this tired awards show and take it in an entirely new direction. I have to be honest that I was shuddering at the fact that Hugh Jackman would be this year's host. First, I had hoped that Billy Crystal would return. Secondly, I knew that with Hugh Jackman at the helm, there would be too much singing and dancing and not enough comedy to keep the show interesting. From the opening number, I knew that I was totally in the wrong. A very able and confident Hugh Jackman took and commanded the stage for the entire evening. The song and dance numbers were so well thought and choreographed that they completely put to shame the lame productions of years past. This year's opening number is one for the books. If that wasn't enough, the producers this year did something totally brave and unimaginable --- they brought intimacy to the show. A small circle of nominees were brought to a winner's circle, forefront, bordering the stage. Instead of someone simply reading the names of the nominees and showing clips of their performance, the task was turned to a group of 5 major award winners of past years who spoke directly to each of the nominees. To sit and watch the tears fill the eyes of each nominee as they were praised, surely had an equal affect on this viewer. Never before has an award show been able to draw so much emotion from those who care so much about each other's work. I don't think there were any major surprises as far as winners are concerned. This was one year I think the major winners were pretty obvious, and for that, I think most all of us accurately predicted them. I was most gratified to see Jerry Lewis honored. Since I was a kid, I have adored Mr. Lewis and his body of work. I have never laughed at anything as much as his films. I had always dreamed of meeting him one day. I hope that dream may one day be fulfilled. In all, this year's 81st Academy Awards did what oscar shows should do -- trim the fat, cut the baloney, and get down to the essentials of honoring the industries best.