An Oscar-ful of Surprises!

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oscar.jpgThe Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences mostly honour films released in America. However, for the first time in the history of the Oscars, the Europeans swept away the acting Oscars with wins in all the four major categories, including a stunning Best Actress win for Marion Cotillard. Cotillard came to the awards show as an outsider and Oscar watchers and pundits had ruled out any surprises in this category, considering Cotillard was nominated for a foreign-language film. However, Cotillard rode the ‘big studios, big publicity, big bucks’ bandwagon to become just the third actor to win an acting Oscar for a foreign-language film, joining the Sophia Loren and Roberto Bengini in this exclusive club. Cotillard, 32, won for her astounding performance as tragic chanteuse Edith Piaf in the film La Vie en Rose, in the process becoming the first Frenchwoman since Simone Signoret in 1960 to win the Best Actress Oscar. She left behind in this category, more famed competitors, including veteran and Academy “Darling” Julie Christie, who had won a major of the critics and other pre-Oscar awards, and Ellen Page, the Canadian who was the crowd’s favourite to win the sleeper box office hit Juno.

The other major surprise of the evening was Tilda Swinton’s upsetting win for the Best Supporting Actress win over the famed Cate Blanchett. Blanchett, a double nominee this year for I’m Not There and Elizabeth: The Golden Age was a strong favourite to win the trophy for the second time, but the Michael Clayton star took home her first Oscar. Swinton’s win follows the pattern of upsets that have characterized the Oscar acting awards with the supporting acting prizes being given more than once to rank outsiders. However, the evening belonged to the winners as the crowd cheered and clapped for them. Director duo Ethan and Joel Coen’s violent drama, No Country For Old Men won four prizes including the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and the Best Supporting Actor went to Javier Bardem.Daniel Day Lewis won his second Oscar for his portrayal as the turn-of-the-century oil prospect in There Will Be Blood. Diablo Cody won the award for the Best Original Screenplay for Juno. Besides the top acting prizes, There Will Be Blood and La Vie en Rose also won another Oscar each; TWBB for Cinematography and Rose for Best Make-Up. The night also saw a standing ovation when Austrian film, Die Falscher won the prize for the Best Foreign Language Film. Michael Moore, the controversial documentary director and Palm‘d Or winner, was up for the Best Documentary feature for his tough critic of the American healthcare industry, Sicko, but lost to Charles Ferguson’s No End In Sight.After weeks of protests by writers, the Oscars were a perfect opportunity for the Academy to present a unified team and it managed to do so. Perhaps, Cotillard in her winning speech best summed up the feeling of the evening. “Thank you life, thank you love. It is true that there are some angels in this city. Thank you so, so much.”

Anupam Dhar

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