| The Pianist star Adrien Brody hugs Halle Berry as he accepts the Oscar for best actor. (AFP)
Los Angeles, March 24 (Reuters): Some said it with tears, some said it with flowers, some stars let their peace pins do the talking, and one pulled no punches.
They might have taken the glitz out of today’s Oscars but in the end there was no distancing the biggest show in Hollywood from the real drama on the other side of the world.
Maverick director Michael Moore, director of the documentary Bowling for Columbine, issued the bluntest denunciation of the war against Iraq from the winner’s podium before an estimated audience worldwide of 1 billion people.
“We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it is the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr Bush. Shame on you, Mr Bush!,” shouted Moore, wagging his finger to a mixed reception of boos and cheers from the celebrity audience.
His outburst shattered the restraint that had marked the Oscar ceremony where stars such as Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek and Julianne Moore wore discreet peace pins or peace doves on their gowns and tuxedos but otherwise kept their opinions largely to themselves.
Some of Hollywood’s most strident anti-war campaigners, including Barbra Streisand, Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere, prompted surprise by sticking to the official Oscar script.
But Adrien Brody, while overcome with joy at his surprise best actor win for the holocaust drama The Pianist, said he was also filled with sadness.
“My experience in making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanisation of people at times of war and the repercussions of war. Whether you believe in God or Allah, may he watch over you and let’s pray for a peaceful and swift resolution,” Brody said to warm applause.
Frank Pierson, the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, had struggled for a week with the dilemma of whether today’s show should go on in the midst of a controversial war.
Pierson told the audience simply: “To all of our men and women overseas, God speed and let’s get you home soon. To the Iraqi people, I say, let’s have peace soon and let you live without war.”
Chris Cooper, winner of the best supporting actor for Adaptation, said tearfully: “In light of all the trouble in this world, I wish us all peace”.
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, winner of the original screenplay Oscar for Talk to Her dedicated his award to “all the people that are raising their voices in favour of peace, respect of human rights, democracy and international legality.”
Nicole Kidman, winner of the best actress Oscar for The Hours, answered the question that had been on the minds of dozens of celebrities, and their critics, all week.
“Why do you come to the Academy Awards when the world is in such turmoil' Because art is important, and because you believe in what you do and you want to honour that, and it is a tradition that needs to be upheld.
“At the same time you say there are a lot of problems in the world, and since September 11 there’s been a lot of pain in terms of families losing people, and now with the war, families losing people. And God bless them.”
The last word went to presenter Steve Martin, who had largely confined himself to Hollywood in-jokes during the three-and-a-half-hour show, which was to be broadcast to US troops in the Gulf.
“To the men and women overseas — we are thinking of you. Why' We hoped you enjoyed the show. It was for you.”