Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Other Red Carpet

While the lion's share of award attention this weekend goes to the Oscars, one of the more interesting awards shows took place tonight inside a beachfront tent in Santa Monica. Currently in its 26th year, the Independent Spirit Awards honors the top achievements in indie film -- Best Feature, Actor, Actress, Screenplay etc. and often does not follow the trends of the other awards which makes it immensely more interesting.

The winners tonight included:

Best Feature: Black Swan
    Best Director: Darren Arronofsky, Black Swan
Best Female Lead: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Male Lead: James Franco, 127 Hours
Best Foreign Film: The King's Speech
Best Screenplay: The Kids Are Alright

Sponsored by Elle Magazine, Piaget and and the Independent Film Channel (along with a host of others), the vibe is much more low key and relaxed as seen by the red carpet arrivals.

Nicole Kidman

Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt

The Fighter's Melissa Leo
 Amanda Peet (right)

Private Practice's Kate Walsh

Jennifer Lawrence

Indie favorite Terrence Howard

Photo Credits: IFC

The Oscar Speech

The Academy Award  acceptance speech is a funny thing. It can be spontaneous (ok, you have had several months to prepare so don't act like you jotted it down on a napkin on the limo ride over), cringeworthy (Angelina Jolie and her brother), boastful (director James Cameron's "I'm king of the world" fell a bit flat), short and sweet (Joe Pesci uttered six words) or grateful to the point of thanking everyone in the family tree. Here are a few classic moments that were not drowned out by the orchestra:

Cate Blanchett (above) as she accepted the Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator (2000) "Thank you to Martin Scorsese. I hope my son will marry your daughter."

Adrien Brody lays on one a startled Halle Berry when he won the award for Best Actor for The Pianist in 2002. Audiences gasped. "I bet they didn't tell you that was in the gift bag," Brody quipped.

"You like me, you really like me" was Sally Field's exclamation when she won Best Actress for Places in the Heart in l985. The comment was the butt of Oscar jokes for years to come. To her credit, it was a reference from a line from her first Oscar winning role in Norma Rae. Unfortunately, no one got the point.

Grace Kelly said "This is one of those times I wish I smoked and drank"upon acceptance for her Best Actress award in 1954 for The Country Girl.

Robin Williams won Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting in 1998 and humorously remarked,
"It's like winning the golden dude. A great honor. Before I didn't have the chance of the Jamaican bobsled team of I do."

While he was actually introducing Elizabeth Taylor and not accepting an award, who could forget David Niven's priceless observation as a streaker ran past him...."Well ladies and gentlemen, that was almost bound to happen. But isn't it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?"

Tom  Hanks chose the moment to thank  a former teacher who was "one of the finest gay Americans" when he accepted his award for Best Actor in Philadelphia. Problem is the teacher had not come out of the closet. Oops. Wasn't this recreated in a film with Kevin Kline years later?

"Hello Gorgeous." Pure Streisand as Babs accepted her Best Actress award for Funny Girl in l968.

"This is the only naked man who will be in my bedroom" noted Melissa Etheridge for her Best Song win ("I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth).

Forget the speech...  City Slickers actor Jack Palance chose to do push-ups instead.

And while it the moment didn't involve speeches, I would have to vote for Rob Lowe and Snow White's opening number at the 1989 Oscars possibly the most cringeworthy moment in Oscar history. The twenty minute dance number of Proud Mary was excruciating and left audiences wondering, "what were they thinking?" Thankfully Lowe's career survived.

Only in Hollywood...

Happy Oscar weekend and many thanks to The New Yorker for the Designs on Film review!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

And the Losers Were...

While the award winners are at the core of next week's Academy Awards celebration, the red carpet fashions always run a close second. Much will be written, photographed, critiqued (and knocked off the day after) about Hollywood's version of fashion week. One thing continues to puzzle me -- with all the loaned jewelry, couture dresses and stylists available, why are there so many disasters and missteps? To paraphrase Sanford Blatch in an old Sex and the City episode, "it's fashion roadkill."

Here is a walk down memory lane to some of the most controversial appearances on the red carpet. And it begs the question, what were they thinking?

Barbara Streisand wore this "at first glance it's conservative but on second look it's see-through" number when she accepted her 1969 Best Actress award for Funny Girl. As it often happens in these cases, the outfit gets as much coverage as the win! Arnold Scassi was the designer.

Cher is a perennial favorite on the worst dressed list and perhaps she likes it that way. One thing is for sure -- she will always be covered in the press. According to the LA Times, Cher wore this Bob Mackie number in protest of the Oscar dress code. Her ostrich-feather headdress reportedly weighed 50 pounds.

John Galliano of Dior designed this backwards tuxedo suit for Celine Dion in 1999. Sadly this was not interesting from the front or the back but certainly drew attention.

Christian Lacroix concocted this gown for Uma Thurman and it does nothing for her whatsoever. It appears to be a combination toga/shirtdress/mess.

Lara Flynn Boyle was skewered by the fashion critics for her pre-Black Swan ballerina ensemble.

Kim Basinger wore this homemade frock at the 1990's show. The white satin gown had cryptic lettering down the arm of the sleeve that was no doubt influenced by Prince (who was her boyfriend at the time).

Gena Davis often lands on worst dressed lists and 1992 could not have been a worst time to be singled out as she was nominated for Best Actress for Thelma and Loiuse.

Angelina Jolie took her cues from the Addams Family's Morticia in 2000 and went total Goth in this Versace gown. She took home the Oscar for Girl, Interrupted.

In terms of sheer originality, I actually rather liked this dress worn by Lizzie Gardner that was made of gold American Express Cards.  Gardner is a costume designer and won for her work in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in 1990. Amex used the photo in their ads with the tagline "You Only Need One in Your Wallet."

And last but not least, singer Bjork in yet another ballerina got bad look. At least the bird wasn't real. Enough said.

More to report next week as we hear the phrases "You look amazing" and "Who are you wearing"ad nauseum!