Hooray for Hollywood!

Inside the Dolby Theatre awaiting accolades, hissy fits and the after parties. (Photo: L.J. May S/S)


This is Brisbane! Queensland, Australia

     And the Oscar goes to...


Ah the Oscars! A time of soaring egos, sinking spirits, spin, sophistication and inappropriate remarks – and that’s just on the red carpet. As a flood of people arrived at the Dolby Theatre for the 87th Academy Awards on 22 February 2015, they nearly encountered one of their own. Ladies almost wearing designer gowns scrambled for cover and squelched across the red carpet as the heavens opened and a leak over the entrance turned into a shower.


BEST FILM – WINNER: Birdman. The nominations were: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash. Against such an excellent field it was a close-run thing, but Birdman flew off with the award in the end. The film also won BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY and director Alejandro González Iñárritu took out the award for BEST DIRECTOR.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – WINNER: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo for Birdman, a satire about an ageing movie star trying to reinvent himself as a credible Broadway actor. Alejandro González Iñárritu also won BEST DIRECTOR for this film.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – WINNER: Graham Moore for The Imitation Game. Benedict Cumberbatch (well known to viewers of the small screen as a recent incarnation of Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock) plays English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, a true genius working at Britain’s super-secret spy centre at Bletchley Park.

Alan Turing helped to crack the German Enigma codes during World War II, as well as developing The Bombe, a forerunner of the computers we use today. Winston Churchill once referred to Turing as having made ‘the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany’ – after which the Brits prosecuted him for being gay. That’s gratitude for you.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – WINNER: Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky. This is an intimate portrayal of whistleblower (or traitor, depending on your point of view) Edward Snowden, who blew the top off the US government’s covert surveillance of its citizens and other insults.

The beleaguered Snowden has found sanctuary in Russia and, surprisingly enough, could not attend. He did issue a statement expressing gratitude that the film-maker had overcome his initial reluctance to participate. ‘My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world,’ he said. Optimist!

BEST ACTOR – WINNER: Eddie Redmayne for his dazzling performance in The Theory of Everything. The film is based on the non-fiction book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Stephen Hawking’s first wife Jane Wilde. It tells the story of everybody’s favourite physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who loves black holes and is famous for the monumental work for the layman, A Brief History of Time.

Viewers may remember that Eddie Redmayne played Jack Jackson in the acclaimed television drama The Pillars of the Earth. Collecting the award, Eddie said: ‘Thank you. Thank you. I don’t think I’m capable of articulating quite how I feel right now. I’m fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man.’ We’d like to tell you more but our time is brief.

BEST ACTRESS – WINNER: Julianne Moore for her powerful portrayal of an Alzheimer sufferer in Still Alice. As well as being a talented actress with five Academy Award nominations under her belt, Julianne Moore is also well-known as the author of several children’s books. In the television film Game Change (2012), she portrayed Sarah Palin and received the Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. Apparently she can now see Russia from her home.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – WINNER: J. K. Simmons for his role as a tyrannical music teacher in Whiplash, which also won for editing and sound mixing. On television, we enjoyed J.K.’s role as Will Pope, Assistant Chief of the LAPD, in The Closer, an excellent series still missed by its many fans.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – WINNER: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood. She is best known to television viewers for her portrayal of psychic Allison DuBois in the TV series The Medium. Patricia used her acceptance speech to demand equal pay for women. Apparently, hacked Sony emails confirmed that even A-list stars such as Jennifer Lawrence suffered discrimination. Meryl Streep stood up and cheered. Alas, box office success rather than ability or ideals still remains the benchmark for the amount paid to actors of either sex. It’s complicated. Allison should have known that.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – WINNER: Glory from Selma – Lonnie Lynn (Common), John Stephens (John Legend). Selma depicts the US civil rights struggle. John Legend and Common performed this powerful song during the ceremony and reduced many in the audience to tears. In accepting the award, Legend said voting-right restrictions and incarceration rates for black men showed that there was continuing need for action. ‘The struggle for justice is right now,’ he said.

Other important awards for you film buffs out there

  • BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – WINNER: Alexandre Desplat – The Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – WINNER: The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock.

 So how was it overall?

The compère was talented, the presenters glamorous, and the entertainment entertaining. Standout on the night was the 50th Anniversary of the release of The Sound of Music, and Julie Andrews was there to celebrate. No, she didn’t sing the medley of our favourite songs. Guess who did? Would you believe LADY GAGA? Bet you didn’t see that coming.

It’s easy to dis the Gaga (or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta as she was born: you can see why she swapped it for Gaga) because of her flamboyant theatrics and hordes of fanatic little monster fans. But Gaga began playing the piano at the age of four, wrote her first piano ballad at thirteen, and started to perform at open mic nights by the age of fourteen, as well as performing lead roles in high school productions.

Lady Gaga has a well-trained and powerful voice, global album and single sales of 27 million and 135 million respectively and, as of June 201, she is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, having won six Grammy Awards and 13 MTV Video Music Awards. No lightweight singer.

So, could she cope with singing our favourites from The Sound of Music. Could she what! Channelling hair by Veronica Lake and dress by Grace Kelly, Lady Gaga climbed every mountain, got a standing ovation and made Julie Andrews cry – in a good way. The tat on the right arm didn’t quite go with the dress, but let’s not be picky; it was a great performance from Lady Gaga.

Some favourite people we lost over the year

Star of film, television, Broadway, radio and vaudeville, MICKEY ROONEY’S career spanned nearly nine decades. He appeared in more than 300 films, including the enormously popular Andy Hardy film series from 1937 to 1956. Short statured but dynamic, Rooney could sing, dance, clown and play several musical instruments. In his later career he became a cerebrated character actor and Laurence Olivier once said that he considered Mickey to be ‘the greatest actor of them all’.

British actor, film producer, film director, politician RICHARD SAMUEL ATTENBOROUGH, Baron Attenborough, CBE, was President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). He won two Academy Awards for Gandhi in 1983 as director and producer, four BAFTA Awards and four Golden Globe Awards. As an actor of note, Richard appeared in far too many films to list here. Younger viewers will remember him best as the nutty scientist who let the dinosaurs out in Jurassic Park.

A girl with sultry looks and a husky voice, LAUREN BACALL lit up the screen like a beacon. She made her debut as the leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film To Have and Have Not in 1944. Despite the age difference, they fell for each other like a ton of bricks and later married. Bacall appeared in Bogart’s film noir movies The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo, and later in romantic comedies such as How to Marry a Millionaire with Marilyn Monroe and Designing Woman with Gregory Peck. Lauren Bacall was named the 20th greatest actress of the 20th century by the American Film Institute. Bogey whistled for her on 12 August 2014, and she went.

ROBIN WILLIAMS became a part of our lives. Few deaths have caused such worldwide gloom as that of this unique man, whose manic improvisational style and witty insights brightened our days. He started out as a standup comedian in San Francisco and Los Angles and rose to fame as Mork from Ork in the TV series Mork and Mindy. His many memorable feature films included Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings and Good Will Hunting, as well as the very funny Mrs Doubtfire and the comedy The Birdcage. We miss him.

Australian film and television actor RODNEY STURT ‘ROD’ TAYLOR paved the way for Australian actors in Hollywood well after Errol Flynn and before long before Mel Gibson. He appeared in over 50 films, including lead roles in The Time Machine, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, Sunday in New York, Young Cassidy, The Liquidator and The Train Robbers. During the mid-1960s he worked mainly for MGM with such luminaries as Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Suzanne Pleshette, Doris Day and Maggie Smith. Over the years, Rod Taylor returned to Australia several times to make films, playing a 1920s travelling showman in The Picture Show Man (1977), and a paid killer in On the Run (1983). Rod died of a heart attack on 7 January 2015 in Los Angeles at the age of 84.



Go to for the Guardian quick list. To find and to find out about ‘The Theory of Everything’ go to, and for the whole schmozzle click on


Oprah Winfrey was hoping that 'Selma' would win best picture. It lost out to 'Birdman' - but it's a great picture, so go see it anyway. Now, that's what I call BIG hair! (Photo: L.J. May S/S)