Ryan Seacrest covered in 'Kim Jong Il's ashes'

Did you watch the Red Carpet at the Oscars? If you did maybe you caught this little piece of inspired film promotion by Sacha Baron Cohen aka Admiral General Aladeen from his upcoming film The Dictator. He had warned the Academy organisers he would come in full military ruler regalia and they did warn him not to but then…

Poor host and TV/Radio personality Ryan Seacrest was the unwitting target of this relatively harmless prank. Well, harmless because Ryan is a mild-mannered guy who probably didn’t even know how to react to the situation apart from looking bewildered and borrowing a towel from a fellow Red Carpet presenter (what were they doing with towels, even he asked). Mind you, had it been another star Sacha had emptied those ashes on he’d probably have been punched in the face. George Clooney would not have been as forgiving.

Carpet security did usher Sacha ahead on the Red Carpet, along with his two sultry lady armed guards in a parody of slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who had crack female commandos as bodyguards.

Anyway, I’d say good for Sacha and for us that we got to see some fun at the usually straightlaced Academy Awards. Yes there was all the ‘What are you wearing?’ and ‘You look absolutely lovely’ going on too.

And then the show went on with everyone’s favourite host Billy Crystal and a little song and dance ode to the nine nominated films. Everyone was pleased as punch to see him back.

No point in giving you a run down of the whole evening, you must have watched it or read about it. The highlights then:

Jean Dujardin and Oscar

Nominated for 10 Oscars and winning five, the French-made film The Artist won top awards: Best Picture, Directing (Michel Hazanavicius), Actor in a Leading Role (Jean Dujardin, who of course cannot act in any other American films unless he learns English or gets another silent film), Original Score (Ludovic Bource) as I had predicted  and Costume Design (Mark Bridges). This after Hugo started off with big wins in the mainly technical categories of Art Direction, Sound, Cinematography and Visual Effects. But then do you really think the Academy would give an Oscar to a 3D film? I mean really!

As every Oscar went out to The Artist and it’s bunch of English-challenged winners (mumbling away) you got a sense that some in the audience weren’t too happy with it all. A French film winning American Awards maybe didn’t go down too well. Also, not everyone thinks The Artist is a great film. It’s not. It’s good. What it had going for it was a brilliant gimmick (black and white and silent) that was executed marvelously. The story was mediocre. The other stories in the reckoning weren’t that unique either. You’ve seen films on the typical Hollywood formula done many times before. So The Artist had a USP that made it an interesting choice.

Another anomaly of the evening was in the Actress in a Leading Role category (Streep won for The Iron Lady). In my article Oscar Musings we had mentioned Meryl Streep’s endless nominations at the Oscars but she hadn’t won in ages (her last one being in 1982 for Sophie’s Choice). This year’s favourite was Viola Davis from The Help  but she didn’t get it (her teary co-actor Octavia Spencer won Supporting Actress though). Why? Maybe because the Academy members felt Streep’s dry spell of over 25 years needed to end. Sometimes the decisions are indeed made in this way.

Emotional Octavia


Angelina Jolie’s dress with the slit upto her hips and her leg popping out as she presented awards made big news and twitter trends. She did look like she was trying out for America’s Next Top Model but perhaps it was just a little inside joke she was playing with someone.

Angelina Jolie's leg dress


So a lot of people here in India commented (and rightly so) on the amazing production values, class and talent put together for the 84th Academy Awards Ceremony. Why can’t we in India with our huge industry and popular Bollywood actors put up a show even half as good? There was this poster circulating on Facebook:

I totally agree that Indian awards shows lack finesse, charm, sophistication and talent. They are often crass, vulgar and fail to exhibit any talented performances. But then in all fairness, it’s probably what the masses want to see. Would our audiences be dazzled by the awesome Cirque Du Soleil performance that we saw at this year’s Oscars? I would, but I can’t speak for the callous rabble that pollute and sully Mumbai and India with their uncouth and vile behaviour. Yes that is a bit of angst on my part.

I loved that talking faces part on the show where actors and filmmakers talked about the movies and their favourite ones growing up. It showed they are talented, intelligent individuals. Could you get Bollywood actors to talk that way? Maybe. Very few. India’s claim to fame at the Oscars is having AR Rahman play music for the show this year. Yay, we’re so proud!

As I had predicted (and hoped for) in Oscar Musings, The Tree of Life and War Horse didn’t win anything. Moneyball was also a big loser on the evening, which is unfortunate.

Billy Crystal did a great job with fun gags and interesting fillers with the help of actors like George Clooney. He made wisecracks about the Academy’s president after his speech saying how ‘rousing it was’ and ‘boy is he fun fellow’ obviously being sarcastic about the big boss’s dull speech.

Bridesmaids Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy

Each presenter had so much to offer the show, little gags, titbits of information (Chris Rock’s funny take on how easy it is to make money in animated films) and some funny gimmick (Robert Downey Jr’s documentary style of presenting!). Ben Stiller and Emma Stone’s moment was funny too.

Christopher Plummer as the oldest ever recipient (82 years old) of an Academy Award was stellar in his acceptance speech with poise, grace and class.

Watching the awards season I have been privileged to see many wonderful films this year after a long time and got to know of some interesting offbeat ones too, which though they aren’t in theatres (yet) I will watch on DVD: 50/50, Take Shelter, Margin Call, A Separation, Albert Nobbs and Beginners.

What did you think of the Oscars? For a complete list of winners and other information visit http://oscar.go.com/

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