And the Oscars go to… the Brits
It was another resounding victory for the mother country last night, with the Anglo-Indian production Slumdog Millionaire picking up eight Oscars, and additional trophies going to Kate Winslett, along with that English bloke who won one of the technical awards but whose name and title I can’t remember. It’s at events like the Oscars and the Grammys, when British (multi-) culture all but cleans up, that I most feel my twinges of national pride. And why not? Culture – whether it be pop culture, fine arts or something inbetween, which is where I’d place Slumdog Millionaire – is what the Brits do best. And having only just seen the winning movie last Thursday, and feeling so deeply affected by it, I couldn’t help but cheer along at its success, even though I have no vested interest in proceedings.
I have more empathy for the Oscars than the Grammys, and I’m trying to figure out the reasons. I think it’s because the Grammys invariably lean to conservative choices, whereas the Oscars live up to Hollywood’s image as a bastion of (admittedly, wealthy) liberalism. That doesn’t mean the “best” films always get nominated, let alone that they win, but the focus on dramatic movies at the expense of the expensive action flicks and tawdry comedies that attract most of the popcorn-buying audience every week, provides some form of acknowledgment for the process of quality over mass entertainment. The Grammys always seem to grasp for quality, but end up taking the safest option and rewarding conventionality, endurance and plodding workmanship.
My leaning towards the Oscars over the Grammys might also be, this year, because I loved Slumdog Millionaire to bits, whereas I listened to Coldplay’s album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends yet again today on the iPod and found it, as I have every other time I’ve give it an hour of my day, almost entirely lacking in character, substance and imagination. If anyone can explain why this band is as big as it is – especially now, with this album – please do so: it’s beyond me.