Although I didn’t think too much about it at the time, was I the only child who grew up in a house arrayed with ornaments that played makeshift for famous trophies, awards and gongs? The 12” super-heavy glass vase my mum kept for flowers she never received was dusted off at soccer World Cup finals and raised aloft in the back garden – all part of my beautifully depicted role-playing victoire. A big silver platter that lay unloved in the bottom kitchen drawer was my Venus Rosewater dish given to the Wimbledon Ladies’ champion every first Saturday in July. There I’d pseudo gloat, standing on the grass or at the top of the stairs, imagining it was I being presented with sport’s most celebrated prizes. I’d dirty my knees and spray fake sweat from a water bottle for effect. Canned applause would cheer from the speakers of my Sanyo high fidelity. The moment was captured of my own taking by a 110mm film camera. My sporting dreams realised – if only in my own low-tech imagination.
Such imaginary talented prowess wasn’t restricted to sporting occasions, oh no – so step in the Oscars. Though not quite technically an ornament, I’m sure til this day my mum never knew her 750ml cans of L’oreal Elnett were paraded in front of the bathroom mirror year on year as I made my Best Actress in a Leading Role speech. Lauded by Whoopi standing in the shower, cheered by Chevy leaning on the cistern, my acceptances grew grander as I grew taller, giving Gwyneth Paltrow a run for her money in the tears category. With the exception of Moonlighting broadcast late on Monday nights, the Academy Awards was the only show I was allowed to stay up late to watch on a school night. Those were the days when the Beeb held the UK rights and Sky TV hadn’t as yet monopolised our telly channels.
If you google imaged ‘Oscar’ this week, it wasn’t necessarily a foot-high, gold plated piece of britannium that popped up first. In the same week as the start of Mr Pistorius’ trial, perhaps the shinier of the two Oscars will struggle to bounce to the top of the Bing tree. At the ceremony itself, there’s bound to be the usual cheers, jeers, back slapping and front stabbing that’s become pre-requisite. I recently discovered there’s even been the odd streaker. In 1974, David Niven kept the cool and quipped, post-streak, that ‘probably the only laugh that man will get in his life is by stripping off and showing his short comings.’ Goes to show, even debonair, leading loveys can be catty on the big night.
‘The greatest promotion scheme that any industry ever devised for itself.’ – William Friedkin, Academy Award-winning film director and former producer of the ceremony.
Not without its critics, Marlon Brando’s non-appearance in 1972 for his Best Actor award was probably the most striking rebuff. Having a bit of beef with Hollywood’s misrepresentation of Native Americans, he sent in his place a young lady called Sacheen Littlefeather to ruffle some. Joe Pesci’s acceptance speech for his supporting role in Goodfellas goes down in the annals – all one second of it. Documentary man Michael Moore having a go at Dubbya Bush for his part in the invasion of Iraq was another telly treasure. Some say there’s no place for politics at the Oscars, but hey, a sweet’s no fun without the sticky.
‘The whole thing is a goddamn meat parade. I don’t want any part of it.’ – Academy Award-winning actor, George C. Scott.
Love it or loathe it – and I LOVE IT – just as I did all those years ago, there’ll be a whole swarm of budding fantasists around the world standing in front of the mirror giving it gushing prattle with a big torch or a bottle of Lucozade in hand while their relatives bang on the bathroom door. That’s what the Oscars do to us plebs. In saying that, with only a day to go until the big night, I’ve as much chance as Matthew McConaghey of picking up an Oscar. See there’s one on Ebay and I’ve currently got the highest bid. . . Hooray for Hollywood!