While we warmly embraced the festive spirit, January and February patiently waited with its supply of blues to administer over their 59 days. It is, to say the least, a challenging transition to make for us here in northern Europe. The light is harsh, it’s cold, and there’s the emerging sense of guilt and shame as we recall our alcohol and calorie intake over the holidays. Then there are new year’s resolutions to break, a mountain of emails to go through on our return to the office and for some, there’s the threat of a dry month.
It is then with gratitude we turn our hearts to face the luminaries of the silver screen and ask them humbly to come and save us from slipping into a quagmire of despair with the awards season. Dutifully, as guardians of humanity they gladly, each year, acquiesce.
…it gives me gre’t pleasure …Bruce Willis in 1987
Most will notice a flurry of showbiz feathers and bespoke black ties early in the new year but in fact, the Film Award Season extends over a few months starting in October. The Governors Awards is the first to roll out the red carpet, and Academy Awards rolls it back in at the end of February. With approximately twenty awards taking place, the majority take place in, of course, Los Angeles. However, excursions are red-eyed out East to New York City for The National Board of Review and the Film Critics Circle and further East, yet still, to London for the British Academy Awards in February. One wonders where the great and the good find time to make movies with such a hectic schedule of self-gratification.
Lighting the way, Mark Wahlberg
Staying with the Oscars, the big daddy event of them all, it started way back in 1929 as a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, albeit with 270 guests. Since then, it has handed out (at the time of writing in January 2019) 3072 awards. Only members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) can vote in the 24 categories, of which there around 8000 voters representing the many film making disciplines. For a movie to be considered, it must have opened the previous year from the 1st January at midnight to midnight on the 31st December (in LA) and played for seven consecutive nights. That unfortunately discounts our World Cup punditary videos from last year.
Steve McQueen Best Picture for 12 Years a Slave. 2014
The Oscars home, like the entertainment industry that supports it, is Hollywood in Los Angeles. Unlike in 2019, there is usually a host and the hosts that do well, more often than not, are comedians. It is, however, a tough job akin to telling jokes on a high wire. One must strike a balance between the commoner at home, acknowledging the faint ridiculousness of it all, but not so much so that it upsets the captains of industry and the network hosting the event. Oh and just be funny! Billy Crystal and Bob Hope have done sterling jobs in the past. In a recent response to the broader issue of a lack of diversity, the Oscars have attempted to address this with employing the likes of Ellen Degeneres and Chris Rock with the latter delivering a sizzling opening monologue at The Awards in 2016.
Ellen Degeneres & the famous selfie from 2014
When the camera pans across the Oscars audience, it provides us with a phantasmagorical display of celebrity with their faces painfully fixed in unwanted smiles as their nemesis blorts through a list of thank yous and couldn’t-have-done-it-withouts. Look more closely at the audience, and you will not find any common folk in that number. In fact, the genpop does not get the slightest of look-ins for this gig. It’s invite-only, and all tickets are snapped up but the studios. Those closest to the fame flame fly free, while those in more distant orbits pay anywhere between $150 to $750 for a balcony seat.
Helen Mirren at the Brit Academy Awards 2007
In this business of showing off, show-offs will take any opportunity to show off. Historically, men wear black tie and women evening dresses. For men, the anxiety levels are less than our female counterparts. Yes, there are subtitles and style choices available in a black tie, definitely has to be bespoke, but there is relative sartorial safety found in this ensemble. For women, however, the freedom afforded them in design also allows, unfortunately, for certain people to judge the more unconventional dresses. The red carpet, for its short distant, is one the most scrutinised stretches of flooring found and woe betide anyone who unwillingly steps on to it.
Taking ownership, Charlize Theron
So let’s spare a thought for those who go boldly go where there was never an invite for us. Let’s thank them for the lives they lead and be grateful to them for putting themselves between us and the full force of late winter. For it is always darkest before the dawn, and it is with their light they illuminate the path ahead.