Given the obviousness of the winners, America's Sean Penn fans had a chance at the coveted 24-for-24 Oscar pool last night, until Japan's Departures upset acclaimed nomineesThe Class and Waltz With Bashir for Best Foreign Language Film. To the credit of crazed L.A. Times Oscar-blogger Tom O'Neil, he called it, based on inside knowledge that both the French and Israeli films were not loved by voters but pushed onto the ballot by the Academy's quality-control gurus, tasked with avoiding a repeat of last year's 4 Months ... debacle. So director Yojiro Takito made it to the podium, giving the second-best speech by a Japanese director all night. (The best was, of course, Best Animated Short director, Kunio Kato, who ended his speech, "Domo arigato, Mister Roboto.")
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