The last few years have seen flagging interest in the Oscars. Predictable/undesirable outcomes, a change in pop cultural priorities, and just plain tediousness are all possibly accountable. And this year, there was a very good chance that the Oscars wouldn’t take place at all, due to the grave writer’s strike that ended only weeks ago. The normal buzz leading up to the Academy Awards was tempered this year by the sheer absence of the Golden Globes, which are considered the Oscar warm-up, as the winners were only announced during a mere press conference. What was happening to that hallmark of adulated Americana known as Hollywood?!?!
Not to worry. Last night’s awards ceremony was a return to form in more ways than one. Not only was it the Academy’s 80th soiree, it was also a night of undeniable, heady glamour, a ceremony that somehow felt ‘significant’ even though it shouldn’t in the grand scheme of things. The decor was formal and glamorous, the fashion was vital and truly exquisite, and Jon Steward did an adorable job as the host. And the nominees had their fair share of notable Frenchies; both Julian Schnabel (director of the riveting Diving Bell and Butterfly) and the darkly comic Persepolis were in the running for Oscars.
But the night of course belonged to Marion Cotillard, whose stark and visceral embodiment of Edith Piaf in La Mome/Le Vie en Rose earned her a much-deserved first Academy Award. Her jubilation was sincere and heartfelt, her gratitude and shock contagious. And what a beauty! This film apparently enjoyed more critical acclaim in the US than it did in France – which is quite confusing, to say the least, as the film portrays a French folk legend. But no bother – congratulations to the first French performer in 48 years to win a statuette (since Simone Signoret in 1960)!