Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Everything is Awesome at the Oscars

Everything is Awesome (2015) photo by Pants

Or perhaps just beautiful, like at the ballet. Everyone who gets an award certainly thinks everything is beautiful. They all have beautiful lives and wives and children and god-bestowed fortune. Julianne Moore says winning an Oscar adds five years to your life. Probably more importantly, it adds five zeros to your bank account. I've chosen to post the picture above because it is the only animated, not to mention colourful, moment in the three-and-a-half tedious hours. If not for the mandatorily gaudy tinsel backdrop, we could easily conclude that we are viewing in black-and-white. Honestly, ever since George Clooney married that human rights lawyer, Hollywood's gone all dignified and causey. But I'm racing ahead.

Holiday season is well and truly over and it's February which means that my little family is back together again. Barney and The Question Why returned on Saturday from their ashram stay. Long-time readers may recall that Barney formed a lasting bond with The Maharajah of Katpur some years ago and is now on the path to enlightenment via the Elizabeth Gilbert method, with rather more emphasis on the eating element, judging by the size of his girth. I have not seen my pearls for some years either. 

Our day begins with a pre-Oscars perusal of Hollywood Reporter where we learn of the demise of the Mani-Cam.  Yes, we are baffled too so we follow the link to The New York Times where we learn that some bolshy leading ladies have indeed refused to allow their cuticles to be curated. Genuine actor activism. We learn also that Plastic Jesus is up to his old tricks, placing a life-size, cocaine-snorting Oscar on Hollywood Boulevard, presumably as a tribute to the late Robin Williams.

We miss the opening number as we are arguing over what canapés to have with our Chardonnay and completely lose track of time. I want abalone-wrapped quail eggs and mini Lindy's cheesecakes but Barney claims the drones are both on important missions for his new business partner - none other than David Walsh of MONA fame - so cannot be spared to fly to Mallacoota and New York. Well, DW is a big hero of mine so I content myself with Barney's Eggs Vladivostok and Vodkamisu. As Barney says, 'it's been good enough for you every other year.' Too true. 

It's a shame but we later find Neil Patrick Harris's Broadway-inspired opener on the internet and it isn't half bad. Not that we like 'not half bad'. In all honesty, we prefer dismally bad because it's much more fun to write about. The lyrics are rather clever. The video is difficult to watch as Larrikin's End is experiencing a raging thunderstorm which means I don't have to water the tomatoes and lettuces but also that our already dodgy internet connection is about as good as it gets in Dakar during a monsoon. It is also a shame that we miss it because, in defiance of Robert McKee's excellent advice, (thou shalt save the best for last), it seems the best was gotten over in double quick time.

We arrive just as NPH cracks the worst joke since Methuselah wore a onesie,

'This lady is so lovely, you could eat her up with a spoon. It's Reese Witherspoon!'

And then, we fall into a coma until...

Laurie Poitras wins Best Documentary for Citizenfour. This is thrilling news. We haven't seen the film yet but we have read Glenn Greenwald's book, No Place to Hide. The award is a triumph for global citizen rights. In Hollywood, however,

‘The subject of the film, Edward Snowden, could not be here tonight for some treason.’

Poitras now sensibly lives in Berlin where they mothballed the zeal for spying on each other a couple of decades ago.

The win for the song Glory - performed on a replica of the Edmund Pettus Bridge - incites tears and rage in equal measure as John Legend lets fly with a spirited, 'The struggle for justice is now!' which he underscores with the fact that there are more black men incarcerated in the United States today than there were under slavery in 1850. Pretty disgraceful. It's equally reprehensible that the Academy fell over itself to honour a film about slavery last year but disdains a film about freedom fighters this year.

It's taken NPH three hours but he finally comes up with a decent joke. 'Benedict Cumberbatch is the sound you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce Ben Affleck.'

It's about the time for some poor sod you thought died before the Berlin Wall came down to be wheeled out. Any sighting of John Travolta is an alert. Who could forget last year's cautionary plastic-surgery shocker with Kim Novak and Barney hasn't slept properly since Kirk Douglas appeared a few years back.

I try to attract Barney's attention for some Chardonnay but he's constantly on the phone with David Walsh. He's reciting numbers like he's auditioning for Theory of Everything 2. Does he even know what 'skin in the game means?'

This year's relic is Julie Andrews. What a relief. She looks alive, more or less. There are no tubes that we can see. It's fifty years since The Sound of Music. Imagine! Lady Gaga struggles through a medley missing more than a few high notes along the way, and demonstrating exactly why Marni Nixon had such a long and productive career. Gaga's inner-arm tat clashes violently with that confection of a dress.

'What is that?' asks TQW, 'an Exocet missile.'

Could be an Exocet, or maybe a bugle?

Eddie Murphy is in the top five of highest paid actors of all time and doesn't need to work, NPH informs us. Just as well as, clearly, he can't remember how to.

Graham Moore wins the Best Adapted Screenplay award for The Imitation Game and discloses that he nearly committed suicide at sixteen because he felt 'weird and different,' unlike every other sixteen-year-old on the planet, obviously. He concludes with a defiant,

‘Stay weird, stay different and when you’re standing on this stage pass the message along.’

Oh, the arrogance of privilege. 

When will this festival of thought placards end? It's not that we don't agree with all these heartfelt statements, it's just that we're finding it a little tough to take from the same folks who last year insisted we dream big dreams and lose ourselves in the magic of, well, themselves.

Ben Affleck arrives with a much-needed Frank Capra invocation.

'There are no rules in cinema,' he lectures, 'only sins and the cardinal sin is dullness.' Oh, the irony.

Alejandro Iñárritu wins the Best Director Oscar for Birdman and injects some enigmatic Spanish-style mysticism into the proceedings. 'If someone wins, it means someone has to lose.' 

'That did need crystallising,' allows TQW.

Enter the insufferable Cate Blanchett to present the award for Best Actor to Eddie Redmayne. We have to admit that he does get Stephen Hawking's facial movements exactly right and, given that there is not an actual award for that talent, it's right that he should be given the Best Actor Oscar instead.

'This belongs to all the people around the world battling ALS,' he announces before leaping about like a cricket on meth, just because he now can, presumably.

'ALS?' queries TQW.

'The new name for motor neurone disease,' says Barney. Where does he get this stuff?

And now it's the turn of St Matthew of McConnaughey to present the Best Actress with her five extra years of longevity and a little statue to commemorate the moment. He doesn't say anything daft. Miracles do happen. After Moore finishes congratulating herself on her excellent choice of husband and children and her all-round good fortune, she redirects us to item No. 3 on our cause-of-the-day sheets - Alzheimer's.

Well, no surprises so far. You're playing tragic illness or crippled genius? Go right ahead and clear a space on the mantelpiece straight after the wrap party. Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown? Meryl Streep as The Iron Lady?

The relentlessly grooming-resistant Sean Penn has the ultimate honour of handing over the Oscar for Best Picture. None of us is in a position to pronounce on the merits of these films as I'm the only one who's even seen one of them. I watched Grand Budapest Hotel while waiting for my car to be serviced as there was a free screening at the library nearby. All the other participants were ferried in from retirement villages. It wasn't ideal as there was a lot of commentary and clattering of teacups. I liked it well enough and it certainly was colourful.

Birdman wins Best Picture. Sean Penn prefaces the announcement with a hearty,

'Who gave this son of a bitch his Green Card,'

artfully unravelling an entire evening of earnestness. You gotta love these people.

Accepting as director, Iñárritu counters with, 

'Two Mexicans in a row. Someone's gonna get suspicious.' 

Alejandro, if it was a fix, you certainly wouldn't be standing there, unless...

TQW and I turn to face Barney who is grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Owly-Cat.

'Our bank account just acquired five extra zeros,' he informs us. I guess his friendship with David Walsh isn't such a bad thing after all.

We are indebted to Sean Elder of Newsweek for supplementing those bits of our memory that were lost to indiscipline and/or Chardonnay.