Like most people who have to live with a pandemic, I had forgotten that the Oscars ceremony was still relevant. Thankfully, director Steven Soderbergh was on hand to distract us from the lateral flow tests and the Rule of Six, giving details of the lavish work slated for later this month. We turned it into a sort of cocktail, basically, said Soderbergh, who produced the event. Guests should dress as usual as there will be some red [carpet] stuff on the ground. Phew!
Organizers are setting up hubs in London and Paris for nominees who do not want to travel to Los Angeles for the ceremony, even though Hollywood is not immune from deadly pandemics. Those who decide to attend in person will be delighted to learn that they will be entitled to a shorter quarantine period if they are clearly traveling Business Class or First Class, turning left offers people at least a degree of immunity from the restrictions that normal people must adhere to. by. Apparently, a state-of-the-art test facility will be put in place for the nominees and the crew, which begs the question: With all the billions at Hollywood’s disposal, did Soderbergh manage to find a Covid test that does not make your eyes watery and your eyes. throat gag? Cause if I was about to walk a red carpet with a face full of makeup I woulddo notI appreciate having a very large cotton swab stuck in my nostril moments before.
And what about those brave nominees who don’t want to leave their homes? Could they join via Zoom? The Z word? Soderbergh snorted. Listen, let’s just say we hope it doesn’t.
While some might admire the departure spirit of the organizers, I can’t help but think that they should have seen the pandemic as an opportunity to give this tired old festival of self-congratulations a rest. It’s not about further undermining the undeniable talents of the nominees, it’s about acknowledging that no one is actually hitting any of this. Few of us got to see any of the nominated films. At this point in the pandemic proceeding, where the local cinema really looks like something out of an apocalyptic blockbuster, asking us to get excited for the Oscars is a bit like trying to get the excitement for the Fort Lift Truck Association. Awards (I checked they happen).
And in the current climate, the garish glitter of the Oscars doesn’t quite hold up well. About 15 years ago, before the bank collapse or the pandemics, I was sent to Los Angeles on one of my toughest journalistic assignments yet: we want you to live like a candidate. at the Oscars, said my editor, before boarding a plane to Los Angeles for the week before the ceremony. It was here, from the base of a five-star hotel on Sunset Boulevard, that I fearlessly discovered what you got for the Oscar-nominated multi-millionaire who has it all: you give them more free stuff. I couldn’t move around to offer suites, where top movie stars were lavished in everything from diamonds to Botox. On Rodeo Drive, I watched the starlets rubbed, peeled and massaged before the big day. At a hotel near Beverly Hills, the rich and famous chose Graff jewelry like the rest of us might eat vegetables in a supermarket. At one of the famous Oscar parties, Sharon Osbourne had bought her plastic surgeon as a date. Elton John had opted for Donatella Versace. Paris Hilton arrived in a peacock feather dress. Even I, a humble journalist, left with a gift bag containing several thousand dollars of face cream and some cutting edge technology, which I quickly put on eBay so I could afford more pints in the pub. on my return. in the real world.
In 2006, such an excess was made public and celebrated. It was a sight to savor and enjoy. But in 2021, the circus surrounding the Oscars seems a bit grotesque. How do you admire what the stars wear on the red carpet when these dresses are probably more expensive than what most of us make in one go and no one has changed their pajamas in a year? And who wants to attend a cocktail party in real life when the closest to us to make it happen are a few cans of gin and tonic in a friends garden?
It’s a shame, of course, given that for the first time in recent history the Academy has produced a shortlist that is genuinely relevant. Several actors who are not white. Directors who are gasp! women. Films about rape culture and refugees in recession. For this reason, and this one alone, the nominees deserve a little celebration. Don’t expect me to stay awake until the early hours of the morning to listen.
You can read Bryony Gordons’ column every Saturday. Click here to read last week’s column
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