And the winner is…Academy Awards 2013

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Not too many surprises this year…DDL got Best Actor for Lincoln (although no one else was seriously in the running).

Best Actress to Jennifer Lawrence – I did think this might go to Emmanuelle Riva for Amour but I think Lawrence is a popular winner.

Best Film – Argo. Well deserved, shame Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for Best Director, as Ang Lee winning for Life of Pi seems completely odd, an outlier win if ever there was!

Still, that’s part of the fun of Oscar, you never know which way his sword will swing.

Full list of winners can be found on the Oscar website right here.

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And the Oscar could go to…

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Difficult to judge where the little tin/copper, gold plated men will go to this year as many of the contenders for awards (Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, The Sessions) are yet to be released in the UK.

The next 3 weeks should see to that, so I will revisit this initial assessment but, based on what I’ve seen and Oscar’s own personal tastes, this is what I predict right now will win in the main four categories:

 

Best Picture – Lincoln. Friends in America have been none to impressed by this judging it to be long and dull, but the critics seem happy and it’s not as if a big Civil War epic hasn’t cleaned up before (ahem, Gone With the Wind).

Best Director – Steven Spielberg for Lincoln. It usually follows that the Best Director made the Best Picture. None of the other nominations, with the possible exception of Benh Zeitlin for the acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild would, in my mind, stand much of a chance. The other films are good, but Lincoln has that old style craftsmanship and tells a good political/moral that could tickle older Academy voters (according to this incisive investigation by the LA Times , the average age is 62) and see it through.

Best Actor – Joaquin Phoenix for The Master. This was a stunning turn. As much as I think Daniel Day-Lewis deserves it for Lincoln (and on the basis of the trailer, his performance is just as extraordinary), Phoenix is a revelation as the physical personification of a tortured, confused soul. Definitely not Hugh Jackman (Les Mis is a musical and musicals don’t usually win for the lead actor roles).

Best Actress – difficult one to call as the actresses here are all great. Oscar could be sentimental and give it to their oldest Best Actress nominee Emanuelle Riva for Amour but, Marion Cotillard aside as an anomaly French actress winning for speaking French in a French film, my money would be on Naomi Watts in The Impossible (tragedy, human interest – Oscar can still be sentimental).

 

 

Awards season kicks off – BAFTA Film nominations announced

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Steven Spielberg’s yet to be released in the UK American Civil War biopic Lincoln leads the way at this year’s BAFTA Film awards with 10 nominations. The full list of nominees can be read on BAFTA’s site here.

And for the Oscars – stay tuned for tomorrow’s announcement.

Victoria & Albert Museum – ‘Hollywood Costume’

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*** SPOILER ALERT!***

So despite the posters proudly displaying Judy Garland in the iconic gingham dress from The Wizard of Oz you don’t actually get to see the famous red slippers. Well, not the real ones at least because the originals featured only at the start of this exhibition, then being returned to America where they had other plans. The one’s you see at this impressively thorough cat-walk of perhaps the greatest costumes used in American movies over the past 100 or so years are direct copies made from the originals. The impressive signage that abounds at this V&A curation explains it all clearly…but it’s right at the very end of a long walk so, depending on how much you have enjoyed all of the previous pieces or how tired one is by then, you’ll either feel slightly short changed or downright miffed.

But no matter when the dazzling array of clothing and the in depth research that accompanies them is so impressive.

The curators have not only sourced the correct quotes from the designers/actors/directors involved in their creation but also reveal how the clothing was physically put together, the sometimes arduous and finger-busting weeks put into breathing such vivid life into fabric, feather and sequin and how this final product created it’s own particular corner of Hollywood mise en scene (this is when the whole design of a film contributes to a sense of time and place in the film and also a characters mood and/or thoughts).

There are particularly florid, but helpful, contributions from scions of this art such as Gilbert Adrian (MGM’s in house designer during the studios Golden Age) and Edith Head (working closely with Ingrid Bergman and on films for Alfred Hitchcock), people who not only defined the actresses they clothed, but also defined eras (Travis Banton’s suggestion that Marlene Dietrich wear top hat and tails in Morocco caused a sensation that helped boost Dietrich’s fledgling American career and encouraged many other women to wear trousers).

Smartly, the curators have arranged the costumes into three distinct sections, each representing one of the three parts of the creative process. Deconstruction (the research phase), Dialogue (exploring the collaboration between designers and film-makers) and Finale (this, a roll call of the most famous outfits used in Hollywood films, feel like entering a decapitated but very familiar night club, where the heads of the most famous stars in cinema are replaced with TV screen projections).

There is obvious cross-over between some of the costumes in any of these sections and, obviously, one can see how the dialogue section might actually come first in some cases (particularly with Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which Steven Spielberg had a vision in his head already about how Indiana Jones should look – designer Deborah Nadoolman, one of the curators, went on to fine tune the look that made Harrison Ford a star). There are also some detractions – Michelle Pfeiffer’s catwoman outfit from Batman Returns is almost missed by having her crouched and half-hidden atop a wall.

But these are minor worries when, for a movie geek such as I, there is such an awesome range of real pieces to feast your eyes on. Greta Garbo’s velvet dress in Queen Christina (1933 and, my, wasn’t she small in real life?), Hedy Lamarr’s lamarvellous, ridiculous attire from De Mille’s equally ridiculous Samson and Delilah (1949) to blasts from the past Bessie Love in The Broadway Melody (1929) and the largely forgotten silent vamp Louise Glaum in the titillatingly titled Sex (1920).

Aside from these extravagant dresses, one thing that really does hit home is how you never quite realise how the more ordinary clothing in a film (Robert Pattinson’s plain suits in the Twlight films to Brad Pitt’s red jacket in Fight Club) helps create a sense of a character’s self just as effectively, but in a more subtle, nuanced way than any Ostrich feather fascinator or intricately sequined Tudor era frock can.

More information about the exhibition can be found here.

An article by Deborah Nadoolman about the exhibition can be found here.

Events – Victoria & Albert ‘Hollywood Costumes’

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The V&A in South Kensington have an exhibition on, running from 20 Oct 2012 – 27 January 2013 that looks at how costume has played a central role in Hollywood cinema over the past 100 years. So whether you want to have a look at Dorothy’s slippers from The Wizard of Oz  or Kate Winslett’s clothes in Titanic, this is the show for you. And yes, I have tickets to go, from a very kind friend indeed. More details about the exhibition here.