Os­car wild

The glam­our of Sun­day’s awards cer­e­mony will be a po­tent sym­bol that Hol­ly­wood is back at work, writes Michael Dwyer in Los An­ge­les

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

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

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