"Thus open the gates of paradise."

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2002 Academy Awards

06 Apr 2002

If you're like most, and I don't mean to be insulting by suggesting that, but if you are, then you've probably already forgotten who was nominated for what, who was rooked, and who was justly rewarded for their excellence in whatever from last year. It's nothing to be ashamed of -- that's just the way celebrity works. Here today, what's-her-name tomorrow. So read these comments fast, they won't make sense by next week.

Fashion Nonsense

I don't understand why so many women dress like whores for the Academy Awards. Take the woman on the left, for example. Bad eye makeup, unflattering sheer top. What is that thing around her neck? What happened to her hair? Where is the beautiful woman we first saw in "Seven" and "Emma"? 

Now consider the lovely Sissy Spacek on the right, radiant in the knowledge that she turned in an outstanding performance in "In The Bedroom", confident in her skill.


Gwyneth Paltrow on Oscar night.
Photo: oscar.com

Sissy Spacek (right).
Photo: BBC web site

A bit of understatement goes so far sometimes. 

Jim Broadbent

I think I first saw Jim Broadbent in Terry Gilliam's 1985 film, "Brazil." He plays Dr. Jaffe, a cosmetic surgeon. Perhaps you remember him as the bartender from "The Crying Game", or as the father in Mike Leigh's film "Life Is Sweet." How about Buckingham in "Richard III"? Or as Mr. Boo, the oily impresario in "Little Voice"? Or Gilbert in "Topsy-Turvy"? Year after year, Broadbent has been turning in one good performance after another, and it's about time he was recognized, this time for his portrayal of John Bayley in "Iris".
Jim Broadbent
Photo: AP

Howard Shore

Howard Shore won the award for best score for his work on "Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Rings", or LOTRTFOTR for short, though not by much. Shore has also scored almost every film David Cronenberg has made. He used to work on Saturday Night Live in the early years. And yet, I don't like his work. Never have. I don't think his music complements the films he works for, and to my ear is more of a distraction than silence. However, this award is given in recognition of extraordinary work, and since I believe in saluting hard work, I say congratulations. Congratulations for working very hard to produce a score I didn't care for.  

Halle Berry

I am tempted to let Berry speak for herself. Let's give an abridged listen:

"Oh my God. I'm sorry. This moment is so much bigger than me.

This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women that stand beside me - Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett and it's for every nameless, faceless woman of colour that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.

Thank you. I'm so honoured. I am so honoured and thank the academy for choosing me to be the vessel from which this blessing might flow. Thank you.

I want to thank my agents CAA, Josh Lieberman especially. I have to thank my agents, Kevin Huvane - thank you, thank you for never kicking me out and sending me somewhere else - thank you.

 I - who else - I have so many people that I know I need to thank um... my lawyers Neil Meyer. Thank you - OK wait a minute - I gotta take this - 74 years here - OK I've gotta take this time."

When the normally lucid Juliette Binoche won the best supporting actress award in 1997, she closed her acceptance speech saying, "It's like a dream. A French dream." Later, she admitted that it made no sense whatsoever, so I really can't fault someone for babbling a bit. But I draw the line at describing yourself as a "vessel" from which blessings flow. Steady on, old girl. 

But the main thought in my mind as I listened to her speech was the emphasis on the colour of her skin. Was it really more significant than the details of her work? Pick up a paper, and you see articles about how black actors won this year, and how progressive everyone the Academy is. If the Academy was so progressive, then why is this being talked about at all? I still cling to the hope that someone, somewhere believes that it's the quality of the performance that's the thing. 

Like Christmas, the Oscars are something I look forward to for weeks on end, at once affecting an nonchalant air, but also harboring a deep seated sense of self-righteous conviction about who the winners should be. And then, in a blink of a sleepy eye, it's over for another year. Laughter, tears, curtain.

Related Sites

74th Annual Academy Awards
Iris (Official site)