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An Englishman In New York: 83rd Annual Oscar Awards

David Thomasesson found that this year's overblown Oscar show "lacked a certain element of style, and class; the sort of qualities that only come from the generation of movie stars that had it. Think David Niven, Cary Grant and others of their ilk.''

Do visit David's hugely entertaining Web site http://www.britoninnewyork.com/

The annual American bardic brown-nosing brouhaha aired last Sunday night. There was so much sucking up to colleagues’ and friends I'm surprised their make-up wasn’t more smudged.

The Academy's attempt to play to a younger demographic (or should that have been down to…) hoping perhaps to be hip (Daddyo?) to the Facebook crowd backfired, which just goes to show that young people should never be patronized. One of the opening gags involving Anne Hathaway’s mother was somewhat childish and contrived. You may recall that the late great W.C. Fields always advised against working with animals and children. Well, there were no animals so perhaps the Academy has now realized the virtue of his advice. In fact I wonder if James and Anne they got home in time for their milk and cookies, not that they deserved any. He also said you should always travel with a bottle of Scotch in case of snake-bite, he also said you never travel without a snake, but that’s another story.

Overall a very dull show indeed, not even enlivened by Franco’s insane grinning.

Fortunately the tedium of the co-presenters was relieved by the appearance of Mr. Oscar Night himself (at least in the PBH era…Post Bob Hope…) to remind us all how it can be done. Did the show’s producers realize they’d need to administer oxygen part way through? Imagine the conversation….yeah, is that Billy? OK, listen we’ve got a bad feeling about this one. Eat somewhere local, if we need ya we’ll send a limo. If you’re wearing a white shirt, hold the spaghetti, and go easy on the sauce.

The show also lacked a certain element of style, and class; the sort of qualities that only come from the generation of movie stars that had it. Think David Niven, Cary Grant and others of their ilk.

So we watched with some nervousness when they announced that the next awards would be presented by whom else, but Spartacus himself. Uh ho I thought, this might not be good (think Dick Clark on New Year’s Eve). With one side of his face and speech affected by a 1990’s stroke, but with the famous dimple still etched resolutely in his chin, Kirk made a valiant attempt at announcing the Best Supporting Actress role. And you know what, there’s life in the old dog yet. You could almost see that old twinkle in his eye, as he actually looked to be enjoying himself.

But still a character, even down to a Colombo-esque moment as he opened the envelope to name the winner he started to say "you know". I guess it never goes away… the whiff of greasepaint, the bright lights and an audience. What a trooper; one of the silver screen giants still alive, if not quite kicking. Still, better on stage with a pulse than part of the parade of the fallen.

Quite noticeable this year, apart from giving Kirk an airing, was the lack of other golden oldies on show such as Clint Eastwood http://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/clint_eastwood and Michael Caine. Are their days now numbered before it's time for the hypocritical "Contribution to Hollywood" award.

Sadly the winner, a certain Melissa Leo (who you are asking, I know I was…never heard of her), proved that the apple never falls far from the tree by dropping the F-bomb in her acceptance speech. Nobody told her you that such speeches aren’t required to be given “in character”. From class to classless in one fell swoop. Apparently this was the first time in the history of the Academy Awards that a winner has used the F- word in an acceptance speech. It was censored from the broadcast, as the show had a five-second delay, with the exception of international audiences, including Australia, where the curse word was left uncensored. How quaint that the Aussies didn’t require censorship of this word. Still, if the cap fits…

Great to see Inception win for special effects, a bit predictable. I saw some of the film but it bored me. Still not every day we get to see the streets of Paris inverted. Was this a metaphor for something or were they satisfying every Englishman’s secret desire; turn the French upside down and shake some sense into them! Just shows, winning an Oscar can be a roll of the dice, or in the case of Inception, a roll of the Dreidel.

Did you notice the latest Award Show accessory of the evening? Yes, a British co-presence. Almost every time there was a winner of the lesser, perhaps more technical type of award, up pops a Brit to help accept the joint award. It’s “The British are coming” all over again, one chap at a time. You could tell the Brit from the American winner as they had that scruffy just out of bed, slightly unshaven, loose tie look; Colin Firth excepted. After all anyone who can portray Mr. Darcy, or similar men-in-tights roles surely doesn’t blink at putting on the nines for the Oscar ceremony. After all it's only acting right? As they say, class will always out. Unlike Christian Bale, what a common little man he is. And what is that beard all about?

Did you notice the difference between American and Brit acceptance speech composition? The Brits generally thanked their family before worrying about the next meal-ticket. The Yanks, being insecure in knowing where their next almighty dollar is coming thank everyone, their dog, and their dog’s hairdresser. God forbid they get snubbed in the street, at The Ivy or one of Wolfie Puck’s lunch spots.

Not being much of a fashionista I didn't see any obvious errors, except that Cate Blanchette unwisely donning a dress with a circle the size of a dinner plate outlined on her chest. Darling, if you're a touch light in the milk-shake department best not to highlight it with a bulls-eye. Oh and what is it about Helena Bonham-Carter. Does she have to dress in cast-offs from hubby Tim Burton’s more esoteric Twilight type movies? Pretty-faced Natalie Portman wisely chose not to do a Bjork in support of her film “Black Swan”.

But you know it's not the same is it, there’s no sense of glamour anymore. The bean counters are in charge, the old moguls with their idiosyncratic ways are all gone. Sadly the most creative people in Hollywood now are the Accountants. Rumors abound that the "talent" should never ever, pain of death never, sign-on for a piece of the action after any net profit has been struck. You see, such a figure doesn’t exist in La La Land. Unless your film grosses squillions worldwide, forget about ever receiving one cent of such an amount. No, the wise heads take a percentage off the gross, right off the top. That way, the book-keeping department doesn’t get to work their wizardry. These people make alchemists look like amateurs, and Enron bookies like angels. No, there’s is a higher calling working for the all important Bottom Line. Using arcane accounting methods passed down through the ages they have perfected the unusual art of turning box office gold into scrap metal. A process especially effective if you're on a piece of the net. Reverse alchemy if you will.

Did you notice a new trend, the all black ensemble? The younger actors don't seem to like to don the formal bow tie look, probably a passive-aggressive way of complying with the Academy dress code. Only one problem, they look like they're attending a funeral not a celebration. But if that's your pleasure at least look smart, there’s black tie, lounge suits, but there's no such thing as scruffy or smartly scruffy; just scruffy. And cut your hair while you're about it.

Now, where's my pipe and slippers...


Related articles
Oscars 2011 Superlatives Go To Kirk Douglas, Christian Bale, More (mtv.com) http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1658863/oscars-kirk-douglas-christian-bale.jhtmlOscars 2011: British Best Actor winners (telegraph.co.uk) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/oscars/8351892/Oscars-2011-British-Best-Actor-winners.html

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