Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Klaxon noise! Klaxon noise! Oscar meltdown!

Screenwriter muses on his pathetic failure as an Oscar pundit.

Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 22:33


I am a pathetic man who doesn’t deserve even the meagre respect that I occasionally receive from readers in this place. Until this point, I have, however, been able to point to my record as an Oscar pundit with some pride. It’s not much of an achievement. That bloke who caught the giant pike that hangs above the bar in the Duck and Duck probably deserves greater respect. But I have had a very good record of working out which way Ampas is likely to jump. Until now.

It was a very odd year at the Oscars. You couldn’t reasonably argue that my picks, published in Saturday’s paper, were crazily eccentric. I did plump for Emmanuelle Riva, but a lot of only slightly crazy people thought she was catching up on Jennifer Lawrence in the best actress race. Anyway, out of eight picks, I got only four right. Last year, I got seven out of eight (bloody Meryl Streep!). What happened, basically, is that a lot of second and third favourites came good. Brave managed to beat out Wreck-It Ralph. Christoph Waltz barged ahead of Tommy Lee Jones. Jennifer Lawrence held off the elderly French surge. Ang Lee managed to nudge ahead of Spielberg for best director. None of those were enormous surprises. But I just seem to have moistened the wrong side of my finger.

There are no excuses. I now intend to do what, in a W Somerset Maugham story, would count as the decent thing and retire to the conservatory with a bottle of gin and a pearl-handled revolver.

Before I go, let’s mention a few more things about the Oscars. Firstly, let us raise a shout for Seth MacFarlane. The slightly weird show demonstrated the real division at the Oscar producers’ heart. They want to appeal to “young people” (whatever those may be). But they don’t really want to put on the sort of show that “young people” like. MacFarlane was, by his standards, fairly restrained, but you still heard the odd sharp intake of breath at his more risqué quips. They really didn’t like the joke about Denzel Washington being in all those “Nutty Professor” films. Really? Loosen up, for Christ’s sake.

Also, here are some things we missed. The dance number between Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron was lovely, but we really did feel that some sort of cheeky beefcake flirting between Tatum and Matthew McConaughey was due. Does Magic Mike mean nothing to you? And another thing. Why the hell weren’t Emmanuelle Riva and (cut ‘n’ paste for the 90th time this season) Quvenzhané Wallis dragged on stage to do some sort of sentimental shtick. That was the whole point of nominating the 86-year-old and the nine-year-old. Was it not? Better that than the utterly, utterly baffling routine between Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy. That was the most puzzling, indulgent piece of anti-humour I’ve seen since, well, those two actors appeared together in This is 40. Neat huh?