I’m just trying to matter

Academy Awards 2006: The Highlights


First of all, I made it. By avoiding the radio and TV news all day and averting my eyes from certain websites and the cover of the London Evening Standard I was able to survive until 10pm, at which point we sat down, oblivious, to watch Sky One’s Oscar highlights show. The full results are here. I was pleased to have predicted Best Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon) and Best Director (Ang Lee). I was even more pleased, though, to be surprised by Best Picture for Crash (and not, as everyone in the Kodak Theater presumed, Brokeback Mountain). Having watched Crash again only last night, and with its complexities, Magnolia echoes and layers of LA racism fresh in my mind, I feel it’s a deserving winner, although I might have said the same about Brokeback if last night I’d watched Jack and Ennis keeping each other warm in Wyoming. The point is: I like surprises at the Oscars. I also prefer the big awards to be spread out a bit, as they were this year. Nothing more boring than when one film sweeps the board. I was chuffed to see my hero George Clooney picking up Best Supporting Actor for Syriana (all that pasta wasn’t wasted), and Rachel Weisz Best Supporting Actress for Constant Gardener (although quite why this was a supporting role is beyond me). However, there was one major problem with the 78th Annual Academy Awards and it was this:

Sky’s coverage. Fucking hell. What a shower: intrusive, stiff, dumb, amateurish, technically inept and a drain on the excitement and glamour of the actual event it purported to be covering. Instead of, I don’t know, call me a crazy maverick, showing the highlights from the Oscars, they kept cutting back to Jamie Theakston and Amanda Byram, firstly on the fringes of the red carpet elbowing for glitz, latterly standing outside the Vanity Fair party like two people outside a party which I suspect they weren’t going into at any stage after the cameras stopped rolling. I had nothing against Ms Byram; she was vaccuous and overexcited, but these are forgiveable qualities on Oscar night, even admirable ones, and at least she flirted with some of the stars as they ambled past, eliciting an almost candid response from one or two of them. Theakston, though, God bless him, is totally miscast as suave, dinner-suited Osacrs achorman. He looked like a competition winner. The smile that plays about his lips as he towers above everybody transmits a natural irreverence and archness that don’t come over well at inflated occasions like this. You can’t take the piss. You either do it, or you don’t. It’s as if he had to hand in his personality at the suit hire shop and doesn’t get it back until the morning. At one point, he said of Good Night, And Good Luck (and I’m paraphrasing), “I really loved it, but will that be enough to win it the Oscar?” That you loved it, Jamie? Possibly not.

As if the presentation wasn’t ropey enough, the pair of them seemed not to be miked up at the party, and sounded, during every link, like they weren’t hosting Britain’s exclusive television coverage, but gatecrashing it with a camera-phone. Before each ad break, they ran up some spurious Top Ten or asked every buttonholed star the same burning question (“What are your pre-awards rituals?”, “Are you nervous?”, “Do you have any idea who we are?”), as if the show was aimed squarely at the Heat readers celebrated by Julie Burchill in the authored documentary that ran on Sky One directly before this.

Final complaint: I tuned in with great anticipation over Jon Stewart’s links. I saw hardly any of them. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a swiz. Next year, we sign up for Sky Movies 1, tape the whole thing, and watch it the next morning. At least that way, we might get to see the highlights of the Academy Awards, as advertised.


8 thoughts on “I’m just trying to matter

  1. I would have stayed up to watch it live, and was reasonably content to wait to see the highlights – but! I don’t have sky TV. so, I couldn’t watch it live, NOR could I watch the effing highlights. a few seconds on the news is all I managed. Now remind me again what I pay my license fee for… (apart from the wonderful 6music, and Spooks, of course!) Shouldn’t the BBC cover something as big as The Oscars? Mind you, The Brits are on ITV, the NME awards on channel 4…

  2. I suspect it’s spin. When I worked on the MTV Europe Music Awards, they always spoke of a global audience of a billion. I bet it’s just the available audience ie. those that have access to MTV, rather than those who are actually watching it. The Oscar billion, however, is probably just a big fat lie.

  3. ‘I’m just trying to matter’ struck me as a strange thing for Reese Witherspoon’s mother (was it mother?) to have said, a bit Victorian – do some people not matter? I’m probably reading too much into it, just seemed less heart-warming than was perhaps intended.

  4. Highlights of the Oscars for me were the acceptance speeches given by George Clooney and Philip Seymour Hoffman and the momment Crash was announced as best picture.

  5. Sorry, it was June Carter not Reese Witherspoon’s mum. I can see that ‘I’m just trying to matter’ is a fine thing to say if you’re fighting descrimination (or being ironic). Still not sure about Reese Witherspoon saying it though, although it was nice of her to quote June Carter I suppose. Memorable line too – definitely the line of the night (even though I only saw it on the news).

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