Oscar fever broke Sunday night with recognition of those greats in the film industry who had won by a hair's breadth over the competition.
Since I have seen only two of the movies tapped for any kind of award ("Blue Valentine" and "The King's Speech"), my interest in the whole affair was mild. Yet I admit to having had a slight feeling of "I know how to pick 'em" when I told my friend Chrysanne, with whom I saw "The King's Speech," that even though I hadn't seen the other contenders, I just knew Colin Firth would get the award for best actor.
You see, some years ago, I had won in a similar way after seeing Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman." Though I had not seen any of the other movies nominated in the Best Actor category, I knew Pacino would get it. Waging four to one odds in her favor, I bet a student $5 that Pacino would win. If any other actor won, I would pay her $5. If Pacino won, she would owe me. Pacino's win and instantly becoming $5 richer was enough of an ego boost that I was willing to give it another shot.
With Firth's win, my only regret was that I had not made a monetary bet this year. On the down side, I was sure Geoffrey Rush had it all sewn up for best supporting actor in the same film. When he didn't, I quickly rationalized my loss by telling neighbors Sue and Paula, with whom I was watching the Oscars, how difficult it is to choose a winner among five great contenders!
Most of my thoughts centered on other aspects of the awards besides who won. I loved watching the fashion parade of elegantly dressed men and women and deciding with Sue and Paula which actors looked phenomenal and who could use just a bit of tweaking - whether in the gown or hairstyle department. Of course, all remarks were made in the safety of home, where we could judge without fear of the tables being turned on us.
Natalie Portman made pregnancy look elegant in her flowing eggplant gown; on the other hand, I could have done without the frou-frou that was part of a few others. And speaking of all the beautiful women who paraded on and off stage, what has happened to voluptuous? As Paula remarked, almost all the glamorous celebs we saw had stick-thin figures. Maybe that's the new voluptuous.
As far as the acceptance speeches went, we heard the usual thanking of this one and that one. Some of the speeches were short and to the point; others went on way too long. But the coup de grace was Melissa Leo's few minutes of infamy. Did she really have to use the "F" word to show appreciation? (Gee, the bleeping did a lot to cover it up; I'm sure the kiddies, great lip readers that they are, had that one nailed even before it was time for milk and cookies.)
I'm not accepting jitters as an excuse. Most nominees had their speeches well in mind (one winner even had it well in hand!). Where was Leo's self-control, her sense of decorum, her respect for the occasion? People say that after a few drinks, the real self comes out. Maybe the Oscar acceptance speeches can be the cinematic equivalent.
To me the highlight of practically every speech was the heartfelt thanks to wives and husbands. I have no idea how many divorces it took to say, in essence, "My beloved wife (husband), you're the greatest. Thank you for your understanding and accepting my two great loves: family and career." Nobody thanked a paramour or "my three hottie girlfriends."
I also loved seeing old footage of the late Academy Award icon Bob Hope and was glad to see Kirk Douglas and Billy Crystal still have that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that endears them to audiences. However, I must say that the highlight of the whole shebang was President Obama taking a few seconds from his schedule of dealing with national and international crises to make a cameo appearance and tell the country that his favorite movie theme song is "As Time Goes By."
I went to bed at 9:30 p.m., too sleepy to find out which film won in the best picture category. The next day, I was talking to a friend at 6:15 a.m. who had stayed up to watch the whole thing. I made a little wager with him. If my pick won, he owed me nothing. If any other picture did, I would donate $10 to his favorite charity. He agreed. "The King's Speech," I said with just a hint of insecurity in my voice. Indeed it was the winner.
Even though I'm not much of a moviegoer, maybe I should be an Oscar-betting woman more often.
Barbara Russek welcomes comments at Babette2@comcast.net