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  Opinion   Columnists  27 Jan 2024  Shreya Sen-Handley | Pass the popcorn, it’s awards night!

Shreya Sen-Handley | Pass the popcorn, it’s awards night!

Shreya Sen-Handley is the author of the award-winning 'Memoirs of My Body', short story collection 'Strange', and new travelogue 'Handle With Care', and a columnist and playwright. Her Twitter and Insta handle is @shreyasenhan.
Published : Jan 27, 2024, 11:45 pm IST
Updated : Jan 27, 2024, 11:45 pm IST

Despite the tinsel and talk, awards provide reliable recommendations for spectacular movies, highlighting the artistry behind the scenes.

The five actresses are nominated in the Best supporting Actress category for the 96th Academy Awards to be held on March 10, 2024. (Photo by AFP)
 The five actresses are nominated in the Best supporting Actress category for the 96th Academy Awards to be held on March 10, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Awards season with its ringside seats to the world of films, fashion, and fenanigans (shenanigans of the famous), is finally here, and aren’t we glad! Beamed into our humble homesfrom faraway Hollywood, The Oscars, Golden Globes, and more, provide a welcome respite from our real struggles. Ree l life, vouchsafing visions of gorgeous demi-gods worshipping at the altar of ‘merit’ (and clearly not feeling the cold), warms the cockles of our hearts in this frosty first quarter.

We’re perfectly aware these glam gabfests are powered by money and influence, like everything else on this earth. Talent is indeed celebrated, but only such talent as backed by mighty studios — garnering whose support doesn’t happen without the right connections, or skin-tone. Last year’s Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis, an able actress and utterly likeable personality, is undeniably a Nepo Baby. 

Besides, ‘best’ thisses and thats are best taken with a pinch of salt (and drizzled generously on popcorn). ‘Best’ is always subjective, and unlikely to be found within the limited scope of any awards.

But, as Woody Allen said (albeit pinched from Emily Dickinson); the heart wants what it wants, y’know?

While I no longer have the puff to last longwinded ceremonies, or interest enough to view every vaunted entry, or actually care who wins, I can’t resist the razzle-dazzle. Let those impervious souls who’ve never pored over a who-will-triumph-and-who-trip-up (sometimes literally; poor J-Law!) article, or pulchritudinous red carpet photograph, cast the first glittering gong!

I’m not, I confess, the enthu-cutlet I was at university, queuing for hours to watch everything from Jurassic Park to My Cousin Vinny, swiftly drifting away these days if a film fails to grip me in its opening minutes, I still strive to visit the cinema for the more spectacular movies. The awards, as a result, mostly tinsel and talk, also provide recommendations more reliable than those of progressively incomprehensible critics. What could be better guidance than the entertainment industry speaking up for itself?

They celebrate, amongst other things, the mindboggling array of artistry — from scriptwriting to cinematography — that go into making a great film. Not commended enough ordinarily, in our tech-and-dosh-obsessed world, these ‘backstage’ creatives get a small look-in on awards nights, and that’s reason aplenty to keep our eyes peeled on these sparkle-fights.

And isn’t the heated race between awards contenders compelling viewing in itself? Gandhi hotfooting it to the finish ahead of Tootsie and ET at the ’83 Oscars, was as enthralling as an Olympic sprint (and much funnier if you imagine them actually racing)! In a good year for movies, such as this one, the competition should only be less dramatic than the productions themselves, and Barbenheimer promises to deliver on the dramedy.

Talking of beautiful things, I must confess to prolonging my wintry coffee breaks to scrutinise the sartorial resplendence on the awards’ red carpets. This is an unlikely interest, I dare say, as I’m neither starstruck (comprehensively disenchanted by my journalistic encounters with clay-footed celebs) nor care about appearances. A work-from-home writer, I spend my life in pyjamas and slippers, buying only unbranded clothing as a matter of principle, and rarely working up the enthusiasm to slather on make-up. Having never bought fashion or lifestyle magazines, catwalks bore me silly any other season.

Come the awards months, however, I’m suddenly excited by couture; the elegant and out-there ensembles, the artistry involved in their creation, the sumptuous shades on show, the knowledge that most outfits are now recycled, warm me like my tea-dunked ginger biscuits. Will it be a study in scarlet this spell, à lathe Golden Globes, or will we be treated to silhouettes of monochrome?

Savouring the drape of dresses, glimmer of accessories, and the sweep of perfectly coiffed tresses, I was struck by one in particular, or should I say two; Florence Pugh’s Golden Globes’ mullet-and-quiff combo — two hairstyles in one! You get the picture, don’t you — if not, look it up!

I checked the stats instead. Many more people search for sartorial shambles compared to red-carpet successes. Quirky fashion choices, such as Bjork’s daft dead-swan dress, or worse, mortifying wardrobe malfunctions like Venus Williams’, ahem, chesty excess, feed a greedy, green-eyed online populace waiting to pounce on every public misstep of stellar women and tear them to shreds. Attention-grabbing many of them might be, mirroring their male counterparts, but they don’t deserve the ignominy heaped upon them for au naturel slip-ups.

The fenanigans are more interesting when they’re about personalities and not bodies. Both before, during, and after awards ceremonies, our celluloid icons react, respond, and reveal sometimes unexpected characteristics. I could mention Will Smith but I’d rather remind you of charmingly self-deprecating winning speeches (Colin Firth), the unfiltered shadow of annoyance crossing a defeated face before it composes itself (Angela Bassett), the genuine solidarity so often shown between winning and losing parties(La La Land and Moonlight), that transform awards season into a series of mirth-provoking, moving, oh-so-human expositions.

Not all of them are human, of course, according to the Internet. Did you see Nicole Kidman clapping at the 2017 Oscars, with the bases of her palms touching but not her fingertips? If that doesn’t make her a disguised alien, then what does?!

With so much fun to be had, park your worries at the door, pull up a chair. Now please pass the popcorn.

Tags: oscars, golden globe awards, hollywood