The glamour of Sunday’s awards ceremony will be a potent symbol that Hollywood is back at work, writes Michael Dwyer in Los Angeles
WITH just two days to go before the 80th Academy Awards ceremony, Los Angeles is consumed with anticipation and speculation. Everywhere there is talk of Oscars, and not just in film circles, but in bars and restaurants and at department store check-outs. Offices have organised pools in which staff compete to predict the outcome in every category.
The media is awash with Oscar coverage, shoving Iraq, the economy and the Clinton/Obama duel far down the news agenda. The stories are not just about the movies in contention, but about what’s on the menu at the academy governor’s ball, or who’s going to whose party after the ball, and there are reams of newsprint on who’s wearing what.
Most women walking up the red carpet on Sunday night will be wearing borrowed clothes. The leading designers compete vigorously to get the most stellar attendees to wear their outrageously expensive new frocks and jewels. Julie Christie, a best actress nominee this year, is one of the few women who refuse to become walking advertisements, and her appearance at the recent Screen Actors Guild awards actually made headline news in the Hollywood Reporter: “Julie Christie wears her own clothes.”
There is palpable relief all over Los Angeles that the long-running writers’ strike finally ended last week, and not just because there’s no longer any threat to a fullscale Oscars show going ahead. Movies are America’s biggest export after aviation, and Los Angeles, the epicentre of the US film industry, has been hard hit over the three months of the strike.
Most film and TV production ground to a halt, with economic consequences for people working across the industry and all the ancillary areas that benefit from it.
The full-on glamour and glitz of Sunday’s show will be a potent symbol that Hollywood is back at work and celebrating its own in an orgy of self-congratulation. The downside of the strike ending is that Oscar presenters will be force-fed dollops of platitudinous lines stating self-evident facts: that without a cinematographer, we would have nothing to look at, or without a composer, there would be no music.
Some winners inevitably will cry with joy, while their fellow nominees, knowing that the cameras are on them, too, will hold back their tears and pretend to be delighted that somebody else has won. They will have the consolation of being cheered as they arrive for the ceremony at the Kodak Theatre.
Eager movie fans line the closed-off streets well in advance to secure the best star-spotting vantage point. And traffic grinds to a crawl, given that most of the nominees and presenters will arrive, two to a car, in unfeasibly long stretch limos, even though some will flaunt their green credentials on stage soon afterwards.
Like the movies it is honouring – and the standard is unusually high this year – the Academy Awards are all about performance. Everyone is keenly aware that their every move is being monitored, as a cast of thousands take their places in the auditorium for a show that annually attracts hundreds of millions of viewers across the world. Bring it on.
The 80th Academy Awards show begins at 5.30pm, Los Angeles time on Sunday (1.30am, Monday, in Ireland). It will be shown live on Sky Movies
Edited highlights will be shown on RTÉ2 on Monday at 9pm
Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, composers of the Oscar-nominated song Falling Slowly in Once (left). Far left: Saoirse Ronan – nominated as best supporting actress for Atonement