THE BROSCARS (Brits/Oscars mash-up with David Sexton) – Evening Standard, 20 Feb 2015

Most Uncomfortably Sexual

 

Oscars

 

This year’s Oscar contenders hardly boast a worthwhile sex scene between them. A few flashbacks to naughtiness for Reese Witherspoon in Wild? Ros Pike getting nasty in Gone Girl? It doesn’t add up to much. Maybe sauciest was M Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) getting it on with Madame D (Tilda Swinton, marvellously made up) in The Grand Budapest Hotel. “She was dynamite in the sack, by the way,” he observes to his apprentice after her death. “She was 84!” he blurts. “I’ve had older,” says M Gustave smoothly.

 

BRITs

 

FKA twigs has been steaming up YouTube for some time now with music videos such as Pendulum, which sees her trussed up in her underwear with such intricacy that it’s amazing no one cast her in the Fifty Shades movie. If that’s not disturbing enough, try Papi Pacify, which sees her being gripped rather too tightly by a naked man twice her size.

 

Most Unfairly Snubbed

 

Oscars

 

Some say Selma was done down, others deplore the scant recognition for Mr Turner. But the biggest oversight, when it came to British cinema, was the complete ignoring of Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer’s weird, poetic, wholly original film about an alien (Scarlett Johansson) arriving in Scotland.

 

BRITs

 

The BRITs are well known for admiring the size of your sales figures above all else. Of the 10 biggest-selling albums in the UK in 2014, only two go without acknowledgement next Wednesday. They are Olly Murs, an oversight we can forgive because he’s awful, and Pink Floyd, whose Endless River album was a worldwide No 1. Bring back the Outstanding Contribution prize!

 

Biggest Posho

 

Oscars

 

Americans, of course, can’t be posh, by definition — it’s not a posh thing to be, American. So this is always a little gift from us to them and this year we’ve done them proud: Cumberbatch AND Redmayne. With both playing Cambridge academics, they may well not be able to tell which one is the real thing but we know: sexy Eddie (Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge), not boisterous Benedict (Harrow and Manchester). Everybody knows Harrow’s nobody’s first choice. Don’t they?

 

BRITs

 

FKA twigs went to £14,000-a-year St Edward’s School in Cheltenham, while Jessie Ware was rocking out at Alleyn’s in Dulwich. Across the Atlantic, Mark Ronson was at the oldest school in America, New York’s Collegiate School. But Lily Allen gets the honour for having the most wide-ranging posh education — 13 schools in all, including Bedales, Hill House and Millfield — not that it sounds like she learned much.

 

Despised by the Critics, Loved by the People

 

Oscars

 

Clint Eastwood has long been suspected by the progressive-minded to favour the gun as a solution to problems — and American Sniper was criticised by some as crudely militaristic. Audiences in the States have gone crazy for it, though, making it 84-year-old Eastwood’s highest-grossing film ever ($392,858,000 already against a $60 millon budget) with a take equalling all seven of the other Best Picture nominees put together.

 

BRITs

 

One Direction played Wembley Stadium last summer and have six nights at the O2 Arena coming up, so it’s fair to say the well-groomed quintet are popular. Fifty million hysterical schoolgirls can’t be wrong, as someone once said about Elvis — or something like that.

 

Biggest Psycho

 

Oscars

 

No contest for this: it has to be Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, setting a whole new standard in devious nastiness for women, false rape claims, sudden throat slashings and all. Maybe the real credit has to go to not-nice author Gillian Flynn (“my favourite summertime hobby was stunning ants and feeding them to spiders”) but Pike is this year’s face of female foulness: a monstrous regiment will follow where she has led.

 

BRITs

 

Taylor Swift is all too aware of her reputation as a love ’em/leave ’em/write an embarrassingly personal song about ’em kind of girl. She played up to it in the video for her recent single Blank Space, in which she’s a mascara-smeared, shirt-slashing, golf-club-to-the-car-bonnet lunatic. “Darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream,” she sings.

 

Labour of Love

 

Oscars

 

Bringing any film to completion is a daunting project — but nobody has ever attempted anything like Boyhood before, filmed, in brief bursts, over a period of 12 years, from 2002 to 2013, so as to show its cast actually growing older in real time. Its star, Ellar Coltrane, was seven when filming began — and none of the cast could sign contracts for the whole shoot, due to California’s De Havilland law forbidding such arrangements lasting more than seven years. Nor was there anything like a completed script at the start. Yet director Richard Linklater made a classic.

 

BRITs

 

Mark Ronson’s sure-fire Best Single winner, Uptown Funk, sounds like such effortless fun that it’s impossible to sense the agonies that the producer went through while making it. He finally nailed the guitar part on take 82, but not without some hair loss and a full collapse. “I threw up and fainted. They had to come and carry me out of the toilet,” he confessed.

 

Most Overbearing Use of Drums

 

Oscars

 

Always a hotly contested award this, most directors having spotted that the way to hype up otherwise dozy action sequences being thunderous drumming, but this is a special year for it. The obvious winner might seem to be the propulsive film about jazz drumming, Whiplash, in which the hero bangs the skins so hard and fast he makes his hands bleed — but the fact that the film is actually about drumming almost makes it bearable, even to the jazzphobic. Completely unbearable, though, is the ferocious rattling that inexplicably powers along the frightful thespfest Birdman, our winner.

 

BRITs

 

You’d better be into Ben Thatcher’s drums if you buy Royal Blood’s self-titled debut album. That’s all there is to underpin his partner Mike Kerr’s weighty bass riffs and angry vocals. The south coast rock duo are the most popular current antidote to pop’s overproduction, without so much as a squealy guitar solo to lighten the mood.

 

Best Grunting

 

Oscars

 

Although the Oscars have many recondite technical categories, sadly it doesn’t specifically recognise this primal dramatic art, groaning and grunting — so much more expressive than any language in the end. This year we’ve had a real masterclass from the gruntmeister Timothy Spall in Mr Turner. He gasps, he groans and he grunts right from the heart. Urrrgh! Words, who needs them? Do try this at home. I have. Works a treat.

 

BRITs

 

We all know that Beyoncé can sing like an angel but, as those infamous photographs of her being fierce at the 2013 Super Bowl proved, she’s not above something more guttural now and again. Check the puffing and panting that goes on during her new Fifty Shades version of Crazy in Love.

 

Most Incongruous Baby

 

Oscars

 

The combat sequences in Iraq in American Sniper are astonishingly well made, while the side of the film that shows us Chris Kyle’s home life is less compelling. But the newborn baby that touches the sniper’s heart is something else: an obviously fake plastic doll. Bradley Cooper can clearly be seen moving its arm with his thumb in a doomed attempt to make it look more lifelike.

 

BRITs

 

Music also had an incongruous baby, but this one was an elephant. In the middle of Damon Albarn’s melancholic solo album sat Mr Tembo, the lone upbeat song about a baby elephant the singer came across in Tanzania. “When I sang it to the elephant, it shat itself,” Albarn said.

 

Wildest Hair

 

Oscars

 

Our winner is Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice, channelling early Seventies Neil Young, with monstrously hicky mutton-chop sideburns (not to mention his amateur afro). Just be sure not to bring to mind the disgusting phrase “bugger’s grips”, please.

 

BRITs

 

Sam Smith has his famous quiff but the most recognisable hairstyle over pop’s past year belongs to someone who doesn’t want to be famous. Sia lets a platinum wig do the publicity work — it appears on its own on the cover of her latest album and others wear it in her videos. Let’s see if it can make a decent acceptance speech.

Leave a Reply