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Oscar and Me



“Mom, I’m on the red carpet at the Oscars!” whispered a man behind me
excitedly into his mobile and I knew I wasn’t the only one overwhelmed
to be at the most glamorous event in the world.

I boldly pulled out my camera and quickly snapped a shot of the gigantic
Oscar beside me. It’s not cool but who cares, no-one can be cool at the
starriest party on earth.

I’ve attended a few major movie events now but the Oscars carpet has a
magic of its own.

The BAFTAs may have come a long way in the glamour stakes in recent
years. And Cannes, despite passé sequins and visible bra straps, may have the
beaches and sunshine but nothing can top Hollywood’s biggest night of
the year.

Yes, we’re talking The Academy Awards. That’s Oscar to you and me. It’s
the glitziest party of the year.

But first problem? How do you ever get an invite without a nomination or
a blood tie to Mr Spielberg?

It was a question that plagued me often as I sat at home in front of the
television each year watching the parade of gorgeous gowns and tear
sodden acceptance speeches.

What would it be like, I dreamed, to be in the midst of all that
glamour, all that glitz, all that silicone…?

Then lady-luck brought me a friend who had ‘connections.’ A few pleading
calls suggesting he sell his first born to get me a pass and hey presto!
Quicker than you can say ‘blackmail’ ‘threat’ or ‘I’ve got the
photographs’, I had it.

One minute I was in cold, grey London, the next I was strolling up the
red carpet alongside the good the great and the beautiful seeing first
hand why they call this business ‘show’.

The Oscars is the one night of the year when every actor looks every
inch a movie star.

It all starts in the middle of the afternoon but has the feel of a dream
throughout. You see more superstars than you can shake a designer clutch
bag at.

Heck, you can’t move for tripping over a megastar.

Virtually everyone you’ve ever seen up on the silver screen in your life
flashes before your eyes as you make your way up the carpet.

Quite honestly, where is a girl to look

If you turn to the left and see Julia, you’ll miss Mr Hanks who is
passing on your right and you almost certainly won’t be able to swear
that it was indeed George who brushed past you and not just one of his
minders. There’s Reese over there, Harrison over here, Di Caprio’s head
just visible beyond the cameras and oh my God, Clint Eastwood coming
right at you!

The first bit of unreality hits even before you enter the carpet area.
The row of impossibly long limousines starts somewhere near the border
with Mexico. Then you get into a queue of your own for the security
checks and who knows who might be having their bag prodded right next to

I felt someone stepping on the hem of my dress. I turned round and there
was Catherine Zeta Jones, looking very elegant, very Ava Gardener and
unfortunately very overdone.

Sorry Cathy but you really don’t need all that stage slap, you’re
beautiful enough without it. I was tempted to remind the poor girl of
the first rule of makeup – blend, blend and BLEND! But I settled for a
timid “excuse me, you’re standing on my dress.”

Catherine, is healthy looking but most of the actresses, though much
prettier in the flesh than on screen, are frighteningly skinny and
surprisingly tiny. Although practically obese as a British size 8, being
petite is probably another reason why security didnt escort me off as an
imposter. They probably just assumed I was the wife/ girlfriend of a
powerful movie executive – who (gasp) still eats.

The women are all beautiful but there is a real dearth of good-looking
men. Ben Affleck is handsome but he has zero charisma and so his fine
chiselled looks quickly become bland.

Any men out there who are halfway decent looking and heterosexual,
should, I suggest, make a beeline for Hollywood on a night like this. I
guarantee you’d be mobbed!

There’s no doubt there is a way of working the red carpet and you either
have it or you don’t.

As I watched the stars doing the rounds of interviews with the scores of
journalists from around the world I began to understand why some make it
big and others don’t despite greater talent or better looks. The
superstars have an almost visible aura around them that cannot be
diminished by a bad outfit or a flop film.

After the red carpet, the awards are something of a chore, unless you
win one. The show goes on for longer than Lord of the Rings, parts 1,2
and 3 with maybe two instalments of the The Hobbit thrown in for good

After the awards come the parties. Dozens are held across the city.
Everyone in Hollywood is either ‘in the business,’ or desperately trying
to get into it. So, even a get together of some friends with a few
packets of potato chips turns into ‘an Oscar party.’

The big ones of course are the ones the biggest stars attend. Unless
you’re carrying an Oscar or on the arm of someone who is, it’s pretty
impossible to get into one of these. Security is tighter than a gnat’s
you what. Rottweilers masquerading as PR girls are on the desks where
you have to ‘register’ and provide practically your entire life history
in order to get in for a quick canapé and a gawp at Penelope Cruz.

My friend and I managed to get into a few, including Elton John’s bash
(dull guests and sticky beer all over the floor – we left after 10

It was more entertaining to go outside and watch some very big
celebrities being refused entry to the Vanity Fair party because they
could not convince the PR dragons at the door that they really were who
they claimed to be!

By this stage the night gets even more star studded, so much so that you
find yourself getting blasé. Television stars, supermodels? Pah! Who
cares. Where are the bona fide movie stars?
And boy do they come at you from all angles as they skip from the
Governor’s ball to the Vanity Fair bash to the triumphant studio

This is the best part of the night. You can either strike it lucky and
meet a chatty A lister or end up with the desperate, stick thin, cookie
cutter blonde ‘actress’ who tells you with a huge smile that people
can’t believe she’s done so much and is still only 26. I mostly couldn’t
believe it either. I would have bet my life savings that said 26 year
old was at least 47.
Largely though, I struck lucky. I ended up sharing travel tips with
Annette Bening and Warren Beatty and chatting about foot and mouth
disease with Dustin Hoffman ( it’s a long story)!

By 5am though it’s best to call it a day and head home as it becomes
clear that many of your new best friends have been indulging in illegal
substances. The conversations get more and more bizarre and some people
have difficulty standing up straight and focusing.

And, well, it’s best to leave before you start naming names!
All in all the Oscars live is the most surreal experience, I’ve had.
Ironically it seems much more real on television!

Oscars 2018




2017 was not overly kind to Hollywood. A drop in cinema audiences. Dismal summer box office. Increasing competition from the rise of Netflix and compelling television shows. Decreasing ratings for movie awards shows. Justice League.
And please, nobody even mention Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey.

In short it all went a bit Pete Tong for La La Land last year.
In fact the La La Land /Moonlight mix up at the Oscars in February now seems a rare bright spot in the 2017 tinsel town calendar. Reading out the wrong best picture winner? Light relief! Oh, how we can laugh now at a ‘wrong envelope mishap’ in the wake of #metoo and #sheknew

So, where and when did the rot start?
I’d suggest November 2016. On 8th November to be precise. Hollywood was tux and gown ready to celebrate the presidential victory of the woman whose campaign many A listers had funded to the tune of millions. However, 60 million Americans had a different plan. Enter the Donald!
The rest is outrage history.

Hollywood has since used Twitter, late night chat shows the press and most of all, awards shows to bash Trump……….and by association the 60 million who voted for him. 60 million potential movie fans.

Some love the political content of awards shows. Some are infuriated by it. But for many the politics has just got old really quickly. All they want from their movie and tv stars is entertainment. Yet the one industry that has the power to bring polarised communities together isn’t managing it. Nor does the entertainment media help.

The dumbest question on the movie red carpet in 2017 was one that was repeated the most, earnestly each time as if it was something unbelievably profound: what do you think will Trump voters make of your film?
Alexander Payne when asked it at the Venice film festival was one of the few who refused to be baited. He said he hoped that he made films for everybody. Unfortunately for him, his film Downsizing didn’t exactly please everybody but at least he recognised that his role is as a filmmaker not political campaigner. Similarly, while other stars have lost fans due to their relentless political tirades, Frances McDormand has been gaining them by being funny, entertaining and making it clear that her politics are her private business. But Payne and McDormand are rare. Too many stars and filmmakers take the media bait or can’t resist lecturing the world on the cause du jour when it isn’t the time and place to do so.

That is the issue. There is a time and place to make earnest speeches, to berate, to demand change, to highlight injustice. The Oscars podium isn’t it.

I’ve been lucky enough to go to the Oscars. It was a terrific experience. It was everything I’d imagined the Oscars to be; glamorous, fun, starry and an escape from the norm. The dresses were colourful and gorgeous. The jokes were funny. Everyone was out to party!
Was it frivolous, unreal and superficial. Yep. And it was all the more wonderful for that because I’d come to the event from conducting a 15 day case in the High court about a paedophile ring. So I know about the real world, thank you. And so do the millions who watch the Oscars on television around the world. The Oscars is their escape from the real world, as it was mine.

Yes, the Oscars has always been political to a degree; Marlon Brando sending a Native American woman to collect his Oscar for The Godfather, Michael Moore leading the charge against President Bush and the Iraq war, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon highlighting Haiti and many more issues. But those were moments in a lengthy ceremony. The rest of the show remained light and fun. The atmosphere overall wasn’t somber, even funereal. In the last 3-4 years the politics has completely overshadowed the films and the film stars.

The Oscars now seems to be first about race, sexuality, political affiliation, hashtag movements with the actual work second.

The #oscarssowhite in 2016 campaign was the first year that I can remember when a cause dominated the coverage, pushing the films and actors in contention for the awards out of the limelight. But it has continued. Last year the subject was President Trump. This year it’s #metoo and #TimesUp.
Around Oscar time I get asked 3 main questions: which of the nominated films do I recommend? Who do I think will win? Who had the best dress?

The first suggests that being nominated/winning really does help a film’s box office. And since the Oscars is essentially an industry event at which the film business shows off its wares, that’s a good thing. The second shows that humans are a competitive lot at heart. It’s why we love sport. No one truly likes ‘participation prizes’. We want there to be a ‘best’ so we can endlessly argue about it for evermore afterwards.
And yes, the third question is every bit as legitimate as the first two. Hollywood is the epitome of glamour. Fashion is big business that employs many people. The Oscars brings the two together on a world stage. And yes, women get asked about their dresses because it’s what many people tune in to see. The men’s tuxedos are the same each year. They aren’t the draw.
Funnily, the questions that don’t crop up are ‘what does Chris Hemsworth think about Brexit’ or ‘ What are Rebel Wilson’s views on the fiscal crisis’.
Maybe, just maybe, people don’t really care.

As I write this, some media outlets are reporting that Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster will present the best actress award this year instead of Casey Affleck. He withdrew recently from the tradition of the previous best actor winner presenting the new best actress winner with her gong, most likely, because he didn’t want or need the media coverage that would have dogged him in respect of allegations of sexual misconduct which were subject to an agreement between him and two women. None of the trio are legally allowed to speak publicly about the agreement. No one outside their respective close circles and legal advisers knows what the terms of the agreement were. Affleck could have agreed terms because he’s guilty as hell and didn’t want a court trial to prove it. The women could have been lying through their teeth and didn’t want a court trial to prove it.

Or, you know, the truth could lie somewhere in the middle. As it often does. Point is, we will never know.

That, of course didn’t stop hysterical speculation last year on social media of what Casey Affleck was ‘definitely, absolutely, 100% guilty of” – because – wait for it- he always plays creepy guys on screen! And it wouldn’t have stopped it this year, specially in the wake of #metoo. So Affleck stepped aside.

If it’s true that Lawrence and Foster will replace him, has the Academy really thought it through? What’s the message here:

That it takes two women to replace one man?

That there are no men left in Hollywood who can even safely present a woman with an award?

That only women can present an award to a woman because gender segregation is where we’re at in 2018??!!

See, this is what happens when you add politics to the mix. You may think you’re doing something right but it can come out all wrong.

On Oscar night on Sunday, armed police and security guards will protect stars who will go on stage and speak passionately against guns. Actresses who cheered and gave standing ovations to convicted child rapist Roman Polanski will now speak passionately against sexual predators. The list is endless of hypocrisies Hollywood can be called out for, so the wise thing to do might be to leave politics outside the door and, you know, entertain on the biggest night of the glamour industry.

However, I’m not betting on it.

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#Oscars90 2018 Academy Award Winners




Best Director: Guillermo Del Toro (The Shape of Water)

Best Actor: Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)

Best Actress: Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney (I,Tonya)

Best Original Screenplay: Get Out 

Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name

Best Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049

Best Costume Design: Phantom Thread

Best Hair and Make-Up: Darkest Hour

Best Documentary: Icarus

Best Original Score: The Shape Of Water

Best Original Song: Remember Me from Coco

Best Editing: Dunkirk

Best Visual Effects: Blade Runner 2049

Best Animated Film: Coco

Best Live Action Short: The Silent Child

Best Animated Short: Dear Basketball

Best Documentary Short: Heaven is a Traffic Jam

Best Sound Editing: Dunkirk

Best Sound Mixing: Dunkirk

Best Production Design: The Shape Of Water

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Oscar Night 2018

2018 Academy Awards – Our Predictions



Best Picture

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Darryl’s Prediction: GET OUT

Luke’s Prediction: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Jordan Peele – Get Out
Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson – Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape of Water

Darryl’s Prediction: GUILLERMO DEL TORO (The Shape Of Water)

Luke’s Prediction: GUILLERMO DEL TORO (The Shape Of Water)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird
Meryl Streep – The Post

Darryl’s Prediction: FRANCES MCDORMAND (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Luke’s Prediction: FRANCES MCDORMAND (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Timothée Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out
Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington – Roman J. Israel, Esq

Darryl’s Prediction: TIMOTHEE CHALAMET (Call Me By Your Name)

Luke’s Prediction: GARY OLDMAN (Darkest Hour)

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Darryl’s Prediction: GET OUT


Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly’s Game

Darryl’s Prediction: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Luke’s Prediction: CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Best Original Song

Remember Me (from Coco)
Mystery of Love (from Call Me By Your Name)
This Is Me (from The Greatest Showman)
Mighty River (from Mudbound)
Stand Up For Something (from Marshall)

Darryl’s Prediction: THIS IS ME (The Greatest Showman)

Luke’s Prediction: REMEMBER ME (Coco)

Best Supporting Actress

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound
Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Leslie Manville – Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Darryl’s Prediction: ALLISON JANNEY (I, Tonya)

Luke’s Prediction: ALLISON JANNEY (I, Tonya)

Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins – The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Darryl’s Prediction: SAM ROCKWELL (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Luke’s Prediction: SAM ROCKWELL (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)

Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Insult  (Lebanon)
Loveless  (Russia)
The Square (Sweden)

Darryl’s Prediction: A FANTASTIC WOMAN (Chile)

Luke’s Prediction: The Square (Sweden)


Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Darryl’s Prediction: BLADE RUNNER 2049

Luke’s Prediction: BLADE RUNNER 2049

Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes



Best Animated Feature

Loving Vincent
The Breadwinner
The Boss Baby

Darryl’s Prediction: COCO

Luke’s Prediction: COCO

Best Animated Short Film

Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes

Darryl’s Prediction: DEAR BASKETBALL

Luke’s Prediction: Garden Party

Film Editing

Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Darryl’s Prediction: DUNKIRK

Luke’s Prediction: DUNKIRK

Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul

Darryl’s Prediction: DARKEST HOUR

Luke’s Prediction: DARKEST HOUR

Best Production Design

Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water

Darryl’s Prediction: THE SHAPE OF WATER

Luke’s Prediction: THE SHAPE OF WATER

Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul

Darryl’s Prediction: PHANTOM THREAD

Darryl’s Prediction: THE SHAPE OF WATER

Original Score

Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Darryl’s Prediction: THE SHAPE OF WATER

Luke’s Prediction: DUNKIRK

Sound Mixing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Darryl’s Prediction: BABY DRIVER

Luke’s Prediction: BABY DRIVER

Sound Editing

Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Darryl’s Prediction: DUNKIRK

Luke’s Prediction: DUNKIRK

Best Live-Action Short

Dekalb Elementary
The 11 O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
All Of Us

Darryl’s Prediction: THE SILENT CHILD

Luke’s Prediction: THE SILENT CHILD

Best Documentary Short

Edith & Eddie
Heaven is a Traffic Jam
Traffic Stop

Darryl’s Prediction: EDITH AND EDDIE

Darryl’s Prediction: HEROIN(e)

Best Documentary Feature

Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island

Darryl’s Prediction: LAST MEN IN ALEPPO

Luke’s Prediction: LAST MEN IN ALEPPO

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