Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Critical Week: Oscar night

It was the United Nations of Oscar on Sunday night, with the four acting winners coming from England, America, Spain and Australia, and the Best Picture winner from India. I was up all night here in London (the show airs live from 1.30 to 5am), this year watching from BBC Radio Five Live, where I was on the air throughout the show.

As expected, host Hugh Jackman brought a splash of musical theatre to the night, with two full-on song and dance numbers. The change in the theatre was terrific, with nominees gathered around the stage, making the whole night feel more intimate. And the acting awards being presented by five former winners was a great idea that probably worked even better than the show's producers thought it would. I'd love to see them do this for writers and directors as well.

The funniest presenters were Steve Martin and Tina Fey, who gave out the screenwriting awards. It was great to see Martin recapture his surreal comedy genius. The most heartfelt thank-you came from screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, whose powerfully personal speech included a blast of honest politics. And the most memorable moment was when Philippe Petit balanced the Oscar for Man on Wire on his chin.

And after sleeping in until noon on Monday, I was back at work. This week's press screening schedule includes this year's most anticipated blockbuster (to date) Watchmen, the new Peter Morgan-Michael Sheen collaboration The Damned United, Renee Zellweger's New in Town, Jennifer Aniston's Marley & Me, Paris Hilton's Repo! The Genetic Opera, the indie British rom-com I Can't Think Straight, the indie British prison drama Bronson, the indie British rites-of-passage drama Shank, Bruce Campbell's self-mocking My Name Is Bruce, the Norwegian award winner O'Horten and the Swedish award winner Everlasting Moments.

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