The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Night of glittering predictability

Los Angeles, March 1 (Agencies): If you were looking for some Sunday night thrill, the Oscars would have been the wrong place to be in.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won a record-tying 11 Academy Awards, including best film. It was so predictable that it would have caused some surprise if New Zealand director Peter Jackson’s movie had missed the trophy in any of the categories in which it was nominated.

Jackson won the best director award — “you’re giving us an overwhelming night. Thank you”, he said.

Overwhelming is the word, overwhelming predictability.

Even the best actress — Charlize Theron for Monster — and best actor — Sean Penn for Mystic River — awards were as had been widely expected by Oscar watchers.

Purveyor of drama as the film industry is, on its biggest annual night it could provide none.

Not even in the dresses that covered — or did not — the star-bodies. After two years of dressing down because of 9/11 and the Iraq war, glamour was expected to trot out of designer closets and, alas, that’s what it did.

There was a diamond-studded gown that cost $2.5 million and a pair of ladies’ shoes — diamonds again — sporting a $2-million tag.

That is not to say, however, that the dark shadow of war did not fall at all on the dazzle of diamonds. Filmmaker Errol Morris, claiming the documentary feature award for The Fog of War, said: “Forty years ago, this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam and millions died…. I fear we’re going down a rabbit hole once again.…”

His comments drew rousing applause. Best supporting actor winner Tim Robbins spoke only backstage and that when asked how he would prevent President George W. Bush from winning a second term come November.

“Don’t beat around the Bush,” he replied, asking Americans — increasingly non-voting — to go out and vote.

Before appearing on the telecast as an announcer, actress Jamie Lee Curtis said: “I think the way we’ve been led by our President, who’s sullied our reputation around the world, that it’s a dark time.”

None of these comments was expected to stay in the headlines or on TV talk shows for weeks, even days.

Curtis’ comment when she was asked to do a little twirl for the cameras would at least draw some laughs. In a turquoise silk chiffon strapless gown, she refused, saying: “I don’t spin. Mommy’s 45.”

No spin, And no spinning out of control, too, making the five-second delayed telecast — a routine networks are following after Janet Jackson’s exposure — quite unnecessary.

The closest the ceremony came to a wardrobe malfunction was when Catherine Zeta-Jones, who presented the trophy to Robbins, kissed him and offered congratulations. Then, she clutched at the back of her crimson gown and said: “I need to get this thing off.”

She was talking about the remote microphone pack wedged between her back and the gown.

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