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Inside this week | Oscar night: a masterclass in cringe comedy




January 18, 2014
08:12

by Ben Hamilton


I’m interested in the Oscars for two reasons. One, I like watching it: the edited highlights not the full transmission. While I’m sure many Americans were permanently scarred by being made to watch the whole show as children, the only problem I had was trying to avoid the results the next day.

I like it because like the Wimbledon tennis championship it’s the pinnacle of respectability, so if something does go wrong, the reaction and fallout is far more intense. Hopefully somebody – whether it’s Marlon Brando sending a Native American woman to pick up his award, Sean Penn haranguing Chris Rock for taking the piss out of Jude Law, or the streaker with the “shortcomings” that annoyed David Niven in 1974 (bit of trivia: he was murdered during a robbery five years later) – will do something excruciatingly embarrassing.

Sadly its mystique won’t last forever. Year by year, silly outfit after expletive after ludicrous omission (Ben Affleck, who failed to get nominated as best director of Argo last year, went on to win the Golden Globe), its reputation is deteriorating. And all the while, other award ceremonies encroach on its territory. One day it will be uttered in the same breath as the MTV Movie Awards.  

I also like betting on it, but this is also under threat. It used to be the case that you could do your research in the summer (back in July, I backed Cate Blanchett at 11/2 – she is now 1/7) and head online to find the early prices, often set by Las Vegas bookmakers prone to making mistakes. But now due to increased consolidation, the mistakes are rarer and it’s almost impossible to bet big. With miniscule maximum bets imposed on reluctantly-given fringe markets, the bookmaking industry has never been as lucrative, and beating them has never been harder.

Nothing lasts forever, like the homemade dress that unravelled in front of an entire school, which is recounted in this week’s edition of Kids Corner (here).

Had that happened on Oscar Night, we all would have died of embarrassment.