Hoopla at Hollywood: At the Oscars
The Academy Award of Merit, was named “The Oscar” officially from 1939 onwards
After Will Smith’s stinging slap of Chris Rock at last year’s Academy Awards over a joke that Rock cracked on Smith’s wife, the Oscar ceremony gathered a bit of opprobrium. That video of the ‘Slapgate’ will haunt Will Smith forever, because he’s been banned from attending the awards ceremony for a decade. So there is no losing sleep over any kerfuffle at this year’s Oscars on Will he or won’t he?
Millions around the world watch online the prestigious Oscar ceremony at the famed Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. These awards have gathered layers of golden memories over the years and the Oscar this year is a venerable nonagenarian at 95.
Once bitten (slapped!) twice shy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is almost in battle mode to tackle any crisis. A new crisis team in rapid action mode is in place to handle any untoward incident.
The prelude to the main event on March 12, was the unspooling of the ‘red carpet’ a week ago, except that it happens to be champagne coloured this year. That carpet is the entry point of stars of varying luminosity who dazzle with their attire and one liners and play to the gallery full -on before they enter the hall.
Jimmy Kimmel, the late-night television host and comedian anchored the Oscar awards for the third time. Not as bad as Slapgate but he was involved in an ‘Envelope- gate’ incident when the presenters flubbed the envelopes in 2017. Instead of declaring ‘Moonlight’ as the best picture , ‘La La Land’ crew was called out for the award by the presenters . But the mix-up was resolved instantly.
The much awaited announcement of: “And the Oscar goes to…” is the result of close scrutiny and assessment by an impressive jury in various categories. The golden Oscar statuette that is grabbed and kissed in joy by all winners was designed by Cedric Gibbons, Metro Goldwyn Mayers (MGM) art Director in 1929. It is a figure of a knight standing on a film reel and gripping a crusader’s sword. The sculptor George Stanley made the design in 3D and the prestigious trophy was born.
Officially named as the Academy Award of Merit, the story goes that it got its nickname Oscar because the Academy librarian thought it reminded her of her Uncle Oscar. Finally “The Oscar” it was officially from 1939 onwards.
Films and events associated with it the world over are glitz and glamour in huge dollops. But there have been voices of protest raised amidst this hoopla that pierce this cocoon. At the Oscars in 1973, Sacheen Littlefeather, an Apache Indian activist ruffled many feathers when she stood in for Marlon Brando and read out his speech declining the Best Actor award for his role in the movie, ‘The GodFather’ to protest Hollywood ‘s treatment of Native Americans.
Those were early days and she was booed at the Oscars and suffered decades of harassment . In a more ‘woke’ society now the Academy apologised fifty years later to Sacheen Littlefeather. Her reply was magnanimous: “ We Indians are very patient people, it’s only been 50 years.”
Recently at the Kolkata Film Festival , Shahrukh Khan in his speech spoke about boycott calls for his film ‘Pathaan’, which went on to become a runaway hit, would only promote prejudice. Cinema as a medium, he rightly said, should spread positivity.
Indian cinema created a huge buzz at the Oscars this year. For the first time we had three nominations at the Oscars. The hit foot- tapping track ‘Naatu Naatu’ from the film ‘RRR’ for the Original Song category, ‘All That Breathes' by Shaunak Sen running in Documentary Feature category and ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ in Documentary Short. The excitement doesn’t end there. Deepika Padukone was amping the glamour quotient by being one of the award presenters.