Sunday 17 November 2019

Claire O’Mahony: And the award for making us cringe goes to . . . Oscars

IF by this stage you have been overcome by awards season ennui, it's hardly surprising. So far this year, we've already had the People's Choice Awards, the Critics' Choice Awards, Golden Globes, the IFTAs, the BAFTAs and the Grammys.

But even if you think you might chew your own wrist off at the sight of an actress in a fishtail gown or listen to one more cheesy acceptance speech, you will need to gird your loins. This week, prepare yourself for a full-on Oscar assault in the lead-up to what is award season's zenith, as the 85th Academy Awards happen on Sunday.

Do the Oscars really matter any more? While it's a curious thing to reduce the arts to a competition, where unlike sports the route to victory isn't so obvious, they're important – to the industry players, at least.

In his article in 'The New Yorker' magazine, called 'Why I Hate the Oscars', film critic David Edelstein says that while you can't discount the financial gain or the prospect of better parts an Oscar win brings for an actor, it's the silencing of the inner voice that says 'I'm not worthy' that is the greatest reward.

As to how important the rest of us rate the Academy Awards, we're still enjoying the glitz and celeb spotting.

According to a completely unscientific study I conducted, people struggled for a moment to remember the name of last year's winner of the Best Actor gong (FYI, Jean Dujardin for 'The Artist').

But everybody remembered Angelina Jolie's leg. The actress's curious gait where she exposed her right leg, henceforth known as leg-bombing, became an internet sensation, to all intents and purposes overshadowing the 2012 Oscars.

Although if you do plan on watching the Oscars, you're likely to only be catching the highlights. One would need to be a hardcore film fan – and in the full of your health – to watch the Oscars live and in their entirety, partly because of the ungodly hour they're shown at and the fact that you need Sky Movies to see the live ceremony.

But the main problem with the Oscars, as with all these awards, is that they seem to go on forever. Chris O'Dowd nailed it when he joked on Twitter that the IFTAs went on for so long that Amy Huberman – who was in attendance on the night and gave birth the following morning – wasn't even pregnant when the ceremony started.

The Oscars tend to run for more than three hours and it feels like longer. Whereas viewers at home can potter around and make cups of tea during the boring bits, pity the poor attendees who must sit and clap and grimace for the duration.

Not to mention the gut-churning apprehension that nominees must also endure, although it's still not enough to justify the annual swag bag that they receive, which last year amounted to $62,023 in value.

Aside from griping about its interminable length, and even if you have scant interest in what frock will be worn and who picks up what golden statue for what film, one of the most appealing aspects of the Oscars, certainly as opposed to European awards ceremonies, is their sense of pageantry. Nowhere celebrates success quite so enthusiastically as in the US.

Sure, we have the IFTAs, but we Irish are too self-deprecating for them to become a luvvie-fest. In terms of self-congratulatory, self-indulgence with the cringiest of acceptance speeches, the IFTAs fall far short of the mark when compared with the Oscars.

In the past, the Oscars represented an opportunity to gaze upon the glamorous, ridiculously wealthy, beautiful people. Now, not so much. We generally know what they like to eat for breakfast, where they go for their colonics and whom they're sleeping with. Thanks to myriad paps and gossip websites, any mystique Hollywood once had has vanished.

Which now makes watching this slightly stilted event, with its potential for wardrobe malfunctions and autocue faux pas, even more enjoyable – these celebrities might be presenting an exterior of polished perfection on the night, but we know the messy details of their latest rehab stint. Now, pass the popcorn, please.

Irish Independent

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