So the 88th Academy Awards did not disappoint. Leonardo DiCaprio, heavily tipped to take Best Actor, was triumphant at his sixth attempt, and good on him. His director Alejandro G. Inarritu also scored, with his second directing win in a row, for the The Revenant. The grizzly bear-faced flick landed the most nominations of the season, at twelve, and went away growling like a goodun with three.
Leo and Alej did a bit of basking in glory; well you would, wouldnt you; but they got serious a while later when asked about the subjects theyd touched on in their acceptance speeches: notably, Hollywood diversity and climate change.
Inarritu said that honestly, he couldnt be happier.
Every film is like a song, he opined. I love this film as I love Birdman, he went on. Im sharing this experience with Leo and all the nominees and the crew, and I think all the warmth Im getting is on behalf of them.
As for DiCaprio, everybody knows that this, his first-ever Oscar win, has been a lifelong dream.
I grew up in East Los Angeles, very close to the Hollywood studio system, he said. So to have parents that allowed me to be a part of this – taking me to auditions and so on. It has been my dream since I was four years old.
Storytelling, they reckoned, is what it is all about for both of them.
Storytelling is a way to confront a huge amount of emotions – of possibilities, Alejandro explained. It is a way to control life, to have an oxygen capsule of life without suffering for real.
No. Me neither. A good thing, then, that the line of questioning shifted slightly, to the odd couples twin passion issues.
The debate is not only about black and white people, gruffed Alejandro, in reference to Oscars host Chris Rocks opening gambit: a deliciously vicious monologue pegged to the Oscars So White controversy. He had a good old slam at the lot of them: Jada Pinkett Smith in particular, and Hollywoods tired and past-it culture in general. You had to say, they had it coming. Alejandro even mused, he couldnt help himself, clearly, whether next years theme might be Oscars So Brown.
The complexity is more than just one or another – the debate is becoming polarized without exploring the complexity of this country being so mixed. Still we are dragging this tribal thing, he ventured.
Eh? Lost in translation? Anyway, he warmed to it.
One of the problems we are suffering from is that there are no moderate platforms to talk about something deeply that is deciding the destiny of the people of the world by the colour of their skin. Yes, me too.
DiCaprio yapped on a bit more about climate change, this and that, all very worthy, and happened to mention in passing that hes been making a documentary on the subject. Well of course.
This is the most existential crisis our society has ever known and the time is now. Its imperative that we act, he implored. Tonight, I feel so overwhelmed with gratitude, but I also feel that there is a ticking clock; theres a sense of urgency that we must all do something proactive. If you do not believe in climate change and empirical science and truth, then you will be on the wrong side of history.
Sylvester Stallone sloped off disappointed and looking as though he needed to punch someone, in the major upset of the evening. The jowly one lost out to perky Mark Rylance as Best Supporting Actor in Bridge of Spies. But never mind.
It was, in the end, a bonkers night. Mad Max: Fury Road cleaned up with six statuettes gleaned from ten nominations, did I mention?
At the first after-party for Academy Awards attendees, the lavish Governors Ball, uber-glam guests munched on little salmon Oscars created by celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck. Thats not rhyming slang, by the way. I have to say, Id rather have a mouthful on toast. But the forty Alaskan King crabs were impressive. They cost about three hundred quid a pop. Eat them, or frame them: whats a girl to do?
Elton Johns own Oscar party never disappoints. The annual auction is the highlight of the evening. A five-night stay at Steven Tyler’s Maui holiday shack went for fifty thousand dollars. The red and white platform shoes sported by Lady Gaga with her twinkly red suit to sing the American national anthem at the Super Bowl fetched fifty five thousand. Have these people more money than brain cells? You could invest in those heels, or you could feed Nicaragua.
The final lot a pair of tickets to the Vanity Fair Oscar post-party, with the winners departing straight from this bash in West Hollywood to the magazine’s superstar-studded fete over in Beverly Hills gasp, gag, get me there at any cost, oh, hang on a minute, been there, done that – sold for a hundred thousand dollars. You couldnt make it up. All proceeds go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, so at least that. The modest little raffle prizes, get this, were Bulgari watches.
All that remained was for Elton himself to get up and do the annual turn.
Now I have to go change into something fabulous, darling, he said. I’ll be right back.
Famous last words.
THE MAIN WINNERS
Best Picture – Spotlight
Best Actress – Brie Larson, Room
Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Best Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Best Director – Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
Best Animated Feature Film – Inside Out
Best Original Screenplay – Spotlight
Best Adapted Screenplay – The Big Short
Best Documentary Feature – Amy (the Amy Winehouse story)
Best Original Song – Writings on the Wall from the James Bond movie Spectre, by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
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