Thrills, surprises, and now we know why that carpet is red – the biggest camp-fest in the world hit our screens again. America punches above its weight in showbiz, and the annual shindig always strikes a high note.
Never mind that it is less sophisticated than a provincial Edwardian musical hall, just with a bigger stage and fake diamonds: this year we saw one burst of unaccustomed honesty, which shocked the world.
The heavyweights of the industry all gathered in one room, filled with confidence and with whatever they managed to smuggle into the cloakrooms, were all there to celebrate themselves, their bank balances, their escape from the Epstein probe and most of all to laugh at everyone else; the little people who gave them every dollar they own.
The stars hit red carpet early – the men dressed to the nines; the women undressed to them, and the lens-men knowing what the newspaper wants to see to sell papers to men pretending to be interested in the art. We have missed all this over the lockdowns – not having the Oscars ceremony left a hole in the social calendar that showed us more than anything how much we did not miss it.
I feel for the academicians, pounded into submission by studio bruisers and frightened by social justice warriors, and each of them with a future career in the balance attacked from both sides.
To the punchline though: the awards themselves.
The most coveted award, Best Picture, pulled off a shock – award-watchers were convinced that any film where the protagonist is a whoopsie would sweep the field, but Power of the Dog lost it at the punch to an outsider – a film about a disabled family, CODA walloped its rival – a brilliant entry to tug the wokestrings that astoundingly was actually well made, and that in itself is a shock for recent Oscar trends. Benedict Cumberbatch struck out, but we have to applaud him for carrying a western film alone without shooting any of the crew dead during filming.
Kenneth Branagh, a big-hitter for half a lifetime, at last won the ‘Being Kenneth Branagh’ Award that has eluded him for all these years – and no one mentioned that one his his past wives has effortlessly won two.
For best actor though – Will Smith beat them all (and on camera too) – he’s not caused a gasp like that since he lamped that genie. But best not give him any publicity, eh?
Viewers may have clocked the real winner of the night: Dune was awarded all the categories that indicate ‘Not woke enough to win but it’s the real best film’.
It was good too to see that actress who used to have bit-parts in Mitchell and Webb tapped with a Best-Actress nomination, which she never got for the ‘Avocado Bathroom’ sketch.
A new award for the audience favourite curdled the purists of this fake-festival, but a thumping great action film should win recognition. Army of the Dead though? Appropriate I suppose for a ceremony that is becoming zombified.
At least no one talked about Bruno, except Frank Bruno for some reason.
We may be reaching the end of the road of the Oscars. It was clobbered by COVID and has taken a body-blow from changes in the market. Audiences are dropping and the world of glitter and painted-on dresses is ever further away from the audience, for most of whom the cinema is a quaint word for a place they have never been. Next year will it even be held? The whisper is that it will be combined with the WBA World Championship.
- Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath
- The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray
- Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay (1841)
- 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, by Jordan B Peterson
- By Boris Johnson: