Telegraph writer attends Academy Awards | #oscars | #academywards

For seven years I have been a film critic in print and on the radio. In all that time I have wanted to go to the Academy Awards press room.  

I have applied every year, and every year I was turned down — until this year! More than 10,000 journalists from around the world applied for press room credentials; only a thousand were issued credentials.

All week I reviewed the movies, actors, actresses, screenplays and technical awards to be given. I spent Sunday making sure I had access to the press room and thought up questions to ask. I wondered if they had time for the hundreds of questions I wanted to ask (They didn’t!)

I was a nervous wreck. This was a dream come true.  

When you have credentials to the Academy Awards you watch it through their website.  It started at 3 p.m. local time with the stars arriving on the red carpet. For the last few years, the dresses have left a lot to be desired, but this year created a pleasant change. With few exceptions, most the women did not have their breasts hanging out. Their gowns were more modest and more reminiscent of years past.  

As I went through the pictures of the dresses I liked, I stopped writing them down when I got to 11, and there were many more than that. I will mention a couple: Kirsten Dunst was stunning in red. I loved Lily James’s pink dress. But my very favorite was the white beaded dress worn by Danielle Haim. It reminded me of the glamorous movie stars of the past who knew how to dress for the occasion.

I would like to remind Kristen Stewart that she was going to the fanciest party of the year, not to a picnic. Her outfit was awful. She wore shorts! I hope she immediately fires her dresser.  

And Timothy Chalamet forgot his shirt. Someone should have told him that it is not appropriate to come to the Academy Awards bare chested.

The men need to stop trying to compete with the women for gaudiest suits. I am old fashion; I think a black tuxedo on a man is sexy as all get out. A white dinner jacket is also nice. But pink, purple and flowered just looks goofy.

Hair dos seemed neater this year. In the past, most of the women looked like a dog chewed on their hair. I sometimes wonder if these people own a mirror and if the look at it before they go out. I have to believe most of them have been partying all afternoon and their vision is a little bleary from gin, rum and tequila.

Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall hosted the event. I thought Sykes and Schumer were funny but the scene with Hall playing with Jason Momoa’s and Josh Brolin’s rear ends looked like sexual harassment to me.  

The Academy made the memorial seem more like a production number than a tribute to people who have died this year. The pictures were too small and went by too fast. The focus should have been on the people who had passed and not on the performers. There shouldn’t have been performers during this segment to my way of thinking.

As the evening progressed everything was going swimmingly until Chris Rock came out on stage. Then the Award show took a turn for the worse.  

At first, I was appalled at what Rock said knowing that Jada Pinkett Smith had alopecia. It was like making fun of a cancer victim. Then Will Smith went up on stage and slapped Chris Rock. At first, I thought it was staged. Then when Smith told Rock “Keep my wife’s name out your (deleted) mouth,” I knew it wasn’t.  

Violence is never appropriate. Will Smith needs to be censured by the Academy.

Although it was bleeped to the American television audience, the press heard the whole thing. The audience and the press room were in shock. At first, you couldn’t hear a pin drop and then there was pandemonium. We started writing down the questions we planned to ask Will Smith if he won an Oscar, which he did.

He was the only Academy Award winner not to show up in the press room. Although I was disappointed, I wasn’t surprised.

After each recipient received their Oscar and made their speech, they were escorted to the press room where we had a chance to ask questions. I was disappointed because each winner we really wanted to question only answered four or five of our inquiries.  Of course, they were anxious to go back to the audience and watch the proceedings and not be interrogated.  

Jessica Chastain who won Best Actress for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” was asked where she was going to put her Oscar. She had a shocked look on her face and said she really didn’t know. Now, I didn’t believe that for a second. I write screenplays and if I won an Oscar, I know exactly where I would place it and it would be in a very conspicuous place where everyone who walked in my house would see it!  

I loved the answer by Jenny Beavan who won for Best Costume Design for “Cruella”. She said all her designs begin with the script. As a screenwriter, I thought that was most appropriate; without a script there is no movie.

Kenneth Branagh won best original script with “Belfast” which was my favorite movie. I was so hoping that would win best picture. While Will Smith won Best Actor won for “King Richard” I was hoping it was Andrew Garfield’s year. He had two good movies, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and “Tick, Tick…Boom.”  

“Coda” won Troy Kotur a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and Ariana DeBose won Best Supporting actress for “West Side Story.” Hopefully, this means that musicals are coming back. I hope that sometime in the near future someone will remake “Brigadoon.”

“Coda” won best picture, which was a surprise. I loved “Belfast” and was hoping it would win, but expected “Power of the Dog.”

Jane Campion won best Director for “Power of the Dog” which was one of the most depressing, depraved movies I have seen in a long time. If I want to be depressed, I sit down and watch one of Campion’s movies.

It was after midnight when we got out of the press room. What a glorious night it was!   


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