WARNING: I started writing this on the train, then lost all interest, and you will too. Just some rubbish about the Oscars by a man far from the know.
Once upon a time, I loved The Oscars. I would stay up through the night, watching the bon mots of Billy Crystal or the joyous jabs of Steve Martin, scrunch my face up a little when some other mediocre ballad was sung and hailed one of the best songs of the year, and look down at my Oscars sweepstake spreadsheet to see if I would win the jackpot £163 that would be clasped by the most prescient cineaste. I was never bothered by actresses weeping copiously or going insane upon victory, and I never really understood why the press would snipe. There are actors, are you surprised if they are overly emotive upon victory? The Academy Awards is considered the pinnacle of achievement, even if recipients don’t always go on to better things. Mind you, Ben Kingsley was very believable in the nudie alien guts and bowel romp Species.
The last ceremony I can remember watching with joy was presented by Steve Martin. His delivery of lines such as “not many people know this, but Mickey Rooney is actually as old as the earth” and, after Michael Moore was booed and cheered during his acceptance speech, “what a great sense of camaraderie there is tonight, I just saw the teamsters helping Michael Moore into the boot of his car”, was delightful (apologies for lines re-edited due to shortcomings of memory).
There were icky moments in them all. The worst for me was the line up of surviving Oscar winners where the elderly and, in some cases, bewildered winners of previous years were stuck on tiered seating on stage to be stared at looked uncomfortable for all concerned.
“stare at Karl Malden, go on, really stare, doesn’t he look confused. See your own ravaged and uncertain future young Hollywood before we freeze dry and store what is left of this golden age”. Then there was the Jack Nicholson worship, where each host would have to say, “and look who is over there, IT’S JACK!” and the crowd would go apeshit as he leered and arched his face, and all ogled in the hope they too may one day become the god Pan in a jacuzzi of the bikini clad, just like their hero.
The last time I remember watching it was when Bill Murray was nominated for Lost in Translation and, on hearing he was not the winner, looked grouchy rather than the usual facial glaze of the “I am so happy for the human who has crushed me in what should have been my moment of triumph” smile.
I must have seen it one more time, as I sat in a voluminous studio in Isleworth talking rot with Claudia Winkleman for the Oscar coverage (when only an hour before I had been kicked repeatedly by Bill Bailey’s son while dancing as a bear for Tim Minchin at a WSPA benefit at Hammersmith Apollo).
I know it is not the Oscars that have changed, it is me, oh, and my dislike for the fact that each year it seems just a little bit more about the dresses worn, and a little less about the films. Let’s see a year where the red carpet is heavy with people in dungarees and baggy jumpers, where the interest in necklaces and shiny shoes is replaced with a lengthy talk by some cinematographer talking about an outback dusk or lighting detritus.
It seems ludicrous to say, but it seems the Oscars has waded out to new shallows.
But of course, that is revisionist bullshit. Back in 1976 , Rocky beat Network to best film, oh, and Taxi Driver and All the President’s Men. In 1980, Ordinary People beat Raging Bull and The Elephant Man and some years, the best film category doesn’t have one film in it that would be in my top 20 of that year. In the 1980s, it was the overly emotive, the heart string tuggers that kept the voters weeping and voting. Now, it seems to be films about people who really existed, fiction is out, the story must be based on fact, and the actors win because “they did the voice really well and looked like them a bit too, clever that”.
And I have no idea what I am talking about. Who cares, it is all showbiz and a reminder that Ross King may well be the most successful former Pebble Mill at One presenter there has ever been as he stands near the Vanity Fair party and talks to Lorraine Kelly.
People I know were nominated for an oscar once. They told me the famous goody bags of the most glamorous things are not for all nominees. As you go around the “gifting mall”, all the sparkly stuff, grand holidays and moccasins made of emeralds and elephant skin are hidden from the eyes of scummy writers, tech people etc and saved for the Clooneyish.
I still haven’t seen Seabiscuit.
I am off to Huddersfield, Sheffield, Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, Bromsgrove and a town near you, plus Bad Book Club is back and dirty. for all show info see HERE
My new DVD, three hours long and with exciting new technology that means it plays in a different order with different intro each time, is HERE