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Tube Talk: Make (Oscar) Love, Not War


Make (Oscar) Love, Not War: the 2003 Oscars Show reviewed

By John Forde

It’s Hollywood’s annual night of trash – a gratuitious love-in where ageing movie stars and the hottest young surgically enhanced starlets converge to worship their own inflated egos. The dresses, the awards, the losing nominees smiling through their teeth as they clap and think silently, “Why did that talentless bitch win?” – naturally, it makes for a great four hours of TV viewing.

Celebrity stylists everywhere almost lost their livelihood this year, as Oscar organisers announced the red carpet parade would be pared back out of respect to the war in Iraq. A nice thought – but who are they kidding? Asking Hollywood to be tasteful and restrained is like asking George Dubya Bush not to sleep with a rifle under his pillow.

Sure enough, the red carpet was in place –but celebrity guests chose mostly toned-down attire. No scary pictures of Gwyneth with saggy boobies and panda-eyes in Alexander McQueen this year – actresses wore mainly black (Julia Roberts, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nicole Kidman), black-and-white (a gorgeous Salma Hayek) or pastels (Marcia Gay Harden in turquoise, Diane Lane and Halle Berry in gold, Hilary Swank in pink), with only redhead Julianne Moore breaking out in green.

With the exception of the fabulously busty duo Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah (singing I Move On from Chicago), cleavage was largely non-existent, or strategically engineered to give as little offence as possible.

Worst dressed was undoubtedly Renee Zellweger – wearing a red doily that accentuated her flat chested and seriously emaciated frame. Someone get that girl back on a Bridget Jones diet of hamburgers and red wine – pronto!

Host Steve Martin wasted no time in cutting through the crap – taking in the hideously tacky 80s Solid Gold set and sneering, “Well, thank God they cut down on the glitz!” Martin was a refreshingly pert and cynical presence amid a tedious first hour. “There are no losers yet in this room,” he declared, “But we’re about to change all that!”

Still, the first winners were predictable enough. Chris Cooper for Best Supporting Orchid Thief with No Front Teeth – check. Best Visual Effects for the makers of Gollum in Lord of the Rings – check. A glowing Catherine Zeta-Jones for Best Supporting Ambitious Showgirl – check. (OK, so Catherine was kinda cute – as she accepted her award from “her Scotsman” Sean Connery, she seemed genuinely moved – and more Welsh-accented than she’s sounded in years).

Things really picked up when Bowling For Columbine director Michael Moore, Best Documentary Oscar in hand, bravely slagged off President Bush for launching a “fictional” war. “Shame on you!” he bellowed, as the startled audience booed and cheered by turns. Moore may never work in Hollywood again, but he sure knows how to fire up a party!

From there, things got more and more chaotic – Barbra Streisand presenting the Best Song award to an absent Eminem, Olivia de Havilland being exhumed to introduce a line-up of fellow geriatric Oscar winners, and Meryl Streep French-kissing honorary Oscar recipient Peter O’Toole.

A teary Nicole and her prosthetic honker won Best Actress, while somewhere on location in rural New Zealand, Tom Cruise kicked himself. That’ll teach you, Tommy, you soulless homewrecker!

But shock Best Actor winner Adrien Brody was the man of the night – managing to be both sleazy (planting a kiss on Halle Berry), endearing (by bringing his mother as his date) and eloquent (by hushing up the orchestra to deliver an empassioned peace speech). Well, his agent will be having a good night!

Another surprise winner was Roman Polanski, who took the Best Director gong for The Pianist. Eight-time losing nominee Martin Scorcese, looking like Grumpy the Dwarf in a tuxedo, lead the standing ovation for Polanski, who hasn’t been in America since fleeing a rape charge in the 1970s. But that’s the charming unfairness of Hollywood – talented criminals are applauded with open arms, and talentless hos like J. Lo gets to wear apple green eyeshadow and marry Ben Affleck.

In a year of peace protests and an uncharacteristically sober, flat-chested line-up of Best Film nominees, the breezy Chicago took out top honours. Maybe The Hours was a better film, but Chicago celebrates everything that America does best – tits, teeth, escapism and getting away with murder. If it’s good enough for Bush…

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