Oscar, say goodbye to Hollywood

Updated: 2013-02-25 15:06

By Lee Hannon (China Daily)

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Oscar, say goodbye to Hollywood

On the eve of the "biggest night" on the movie calendar, I'm afraid old Oscar is in desperate need of a makeover, a rewrite, and dare I suggest, a change of scenery.

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Los Angeles has played host to the movie industry's grand gala since the annual back-slapping began in 1929, and yet it is aired at a time when most of Europe and Africa is sleeping, while Asia and Australia are struggling with a Monday morning commute.

Only in North America, stuffed snugly into their sofas for this primetime TV face-stuffing of microwave cheese-filled snacks washed down with an overdose of celebrity flattery, is this nauseating nonsense really watched.

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Even in LA, the capital of Botox, extra injections are needed by the plastic fantastic to muster an exhausted smile at the end of a grueling and often predictable awards race.

Oscar, say goodbye to Hollywood

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Oscar has long been in need of a makeover, and moving the ceremony to another continent for a change in the normal sea of white faces would be an encouraging sign from an industry harvesting the majority of their profits from overseas markets.

It is also time to accept the Chinese mainland's rise to the second biggest movie market in the world and question why it has only been nominated for an Oscar twice in the foreign language category, despite dwarfing the Oscar nominees when comparing audience numbers.

Hosting the Oscars outside the US - the Olympics and World Cup rotate cities - could be the industry's awakening and time to end the secret cabal of 6,000 who decide who is crowned and who will cry. Note to nominees: Both is preferred with a brief mention of a near wardrobe malfunction, humble upbringing, and a childhood dream granted by "one of the greatest living directors" sitting in the auditorium.

Directors are a pretentious bunch who despise actors who think they can match their artistic magic, so it is satisfying to see Ben Affleck's brilliant Iranian hostage thriller Argo catapult ahead of Lincoln in the race for Best Picture.

Affleck directing and acting in a movie where he is told "you could teach a rhesus monkey to direct in a day" was never going to endear him to artistic elites, who consider themselves the tail that wags the movie dog.

But with barking hilarity, he was snubbed from the Oscar directing award, while scooping up the equivalent gong at every fringe awards so far and will no doubt win Best Picture, leaving Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis to scoop the directing and acting awards for Lincoln.

History is littered with the wreckage of biopic movies that fail to strike a chord with the audience for numerous reasons. Great thrillers reflect the anxieties of their age, and it is hard to watch Argo while not thinking of Benghazi, US foreign policy, or any other city burning from the Arab Spring.

Having your hair shaved and teeth pulled and prostituting yourself in a coffin is what Oscar dreams are made of and will win the supporting actress gong for Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables. The Master of the House scene should win a special Oscar for best depiction of what an Oscar after-party looks like.

But my personal parlay, if Oscar surprises exist, is Jennifer Lawrence winning for her role in Silver Lining Playbook, while Robert De Niro wins best supporting actor.

Kathryn Bigelow, who directed Zero Dark Thirty is in for a torturous night and could go home feeling as empty as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after his 183rd waterboarding.

At the end of Argo, Hollywood producer Lester Siegel misquotes Karl Marx, calling the rescue mission "a farce that turns into a tragedy". The actual quote is, "History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, and second as a farce."

But the misquote is exactly what Argo is. The farce is Hollywood. The tragedy would be a triumphant Affleck not clutching the Best Picture gong while proudly telling Tinseltown's finest: "Argo-pluck-yourself."