'And I am not just saying that . . .': The Oscars

THE OSCARS: Once a year they leave the security of Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley to venture into downtown Los Angeles. Stepping out of their limos on to a two-speed red carpet (slow lane for megastars, fast lane for co-stars), they take their places in the charade that is the Academy Awards. Phil Reeves looked on from the wings

AND THE WINNERS WERE . . .

Best picture Schindler's List

Best actor Tom Hanks (Philadelphia)

Best actress Holly Hunter (The Piano)

Best director Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List)

Best supporting actor Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive)

Best supporting actress Anna Paquin (The Piano)

Best art direction Allan Starski, art direction; Ewa Braun, set direction (Schindler's List)

Best visual effects Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Phil Tippett, Michael Lantieri (Jurassic Park)

Best make-up Greg Cannom, Ve Neill, Yolanda Toussieng (Mrs Doubtfire)

Best sound effects editing Gary Rydstrom, Richard Hymns (Jurassic Park)

Best animated short film The Wrong Trousers (Nicholas Park, producer)

Best live action short film Black Rider (Pepe Danquart, producer)

Best sound Garry Summers, Gary Rydstrom, Shawn Murphy, Ron Judkins (Jurasic Park)

Best costume design Gabriella Pescucci (The Age of Innocence)

Best documentary short subject Defending Our Lives (Margaret Lazurus and Renner Wunderlich, producers)

Best documentary feature I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School (Susan Raymond and Alan Raymond, producers)

Best original score John Williams (Schindler's List)

Best cinematography Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List)

Best foreign language film Belle Epoque (Spain)

Best film editing Michael Kahn (Schindler's List)

Best original song 'Streets of Philadelphia' from Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen)

Best original screenplay Jane Campion (The Piano)

Best screenplay adaptation Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List)

It was always going to be a formality. All that was ever at stake was how many Oscars Schindler's List would win, how graciously Steven Spielberg would accept his long-overdue recognition, and whether the whole affair would be disrupted by an earthquake.

But it was also always going to be a classic study in Hollywood hypocrisy. There, in all their finery, were the great and the good of the film industry, furiously applauding a man whom many had never particularly liked, and to whom they have not been been especially generous over the years. And, all over a film which many believe would probably have never made it beyond the 'in- tray' had Spielberg's alert eye not fallen upon it.

In the circumstances, Spielberg, the world's most commercially successful director, sounded remarkably generous, as he clutched two of the seven Oscars won by his movie - the Best Director and Best Picture awards. 'I have no resentment,' he said, standing back- stage moments after his victory. 'I have never had any resentment. And I am not just saying that because I am happy tonight. Absolutely not.'

His triumph, complete with a tearful on-stage tribute to the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, was the highlight of the 66th Academy Awards, but it was by no means the only one. Who will forget the sight of Anna Paquin, the 11-year-old New Zealander, gulping and gasping with excitement underneath her sequinned woolly hat, barely able to reach the microphone to deliver her acceptance speech as Best Supporting Actress.

Or Tom Hanks's extraordinary, overblown, tribute to Aids victims and the US Constitution before he carried off the Oscar for Best Actor for Philadelphia? Or the shattered expression of Liam Neeson, Spielberg's leading man, whom many tipped for the same award? It was classic fare, in what has become an extraordinary annual ritual, a piece of theatre which has as many scenes off-stage as on.

It began at around 4pm, two hours before Whoopi Goldberg, the first woman host of the Oscars show, strode out before hundreds of millions of viewers to give the lie to those who said that she was too unpredictable, or too vulgar, or too silly to fill the shoes of Billy Crystal. (In the event, she did fairly well, and committed no howlers.)

A procession of stretch limousines began to wind down the freeways from Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the San Fernando Valley and Malibu to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, venue for the show in downtown LA. Overhead, a light aircraft buzzed across the blue sky, towing a banner: 'World's Funniest Movie Script] Needs producer. Call Ruskin.'

For many of the limo passengers, this was the only time in the year that they visit this part of town. On normal days, when the streets are not crowded with police, there are scores of homeless panhandlers on the streets, living under plastic sheeting and in cardboard boxes. Some of the more grim scenes in Falling Down were filmed just down the road. Generally speaking, it is not a desirable place to be.

After stepping out from the gloom of luxury into the afternoon air, with the help of one of around 100 red-coated valets, the guests faced one of the occasion's more harrowing requisites: the arrival line, a stretch of red carpet, some 30-yards long, which leads from the street into the Pavilion. It ran in front of a pen of TV cameras, many local stations broadcasting live.

The carpet was roped off into two halves, and became a measure both of the status and of the popularity of those that trod it. The slow lane was to allow the superstars - Clint Eastwood, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hanks et al - to wander from interviewer to interviewer, answering a series of breathtakingly inane questions ('What does it mean to you to be here?').

The fast lane was so that Hollywood's lesser names - has-beens, wannabes, and other unknowns - could walk hurriedly towards the entrance, knowing they would do so without so much as the click of a shutter. In a world where so much store is placed on adulation, this was suffering. A number wore dark glasses, supplying themselves with a reason for not being recognised.

American publications love to boast that their Oscars coverage comes from 'behind the scenes'. This is accurate, although perhaps not in the sense in which they mean it. In reality, the media was as tightly controlled as an Iraqi visitor to the Pentagon. The scores of print journalists covering the awards were placed in a warehouse-like room on the fourth floor of the Dorothy Chandler building, some distance from the ceremony itself. It was a spartan affair, crammed with narrow tables decorated by white table-cloths and small bottles of Evian water.

There were eight people to a table - four on either side, like bingo players, or croupiers at a night- class. Ludicrously, given the surroundings, everyone wore tuxedos or ball gowns. There was no choice. THIS ATTIRE IS MANDATORY] said the memo from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which threatened to ban anyone who disobeyed. Into this lowly place, the show was relayed via three small televisions.

As we sat squeezed into our plastic-backed chairs, we were given our instructions by a harassed-looking woman standing on a dias in one corner. After each award was handed out, the victor would be brought in for interviews. We each had a sheet of paper with a figure on it, she explained. 'When a star comes in and you want to ask a question, you raise your number. Please do not ask too many questions, just one or two.' Raise a number? Would Hildy Johnson have tolerated this?

It could only get worse. No one really knew what to ask many of the Oscar winners. The awkwardness was almost palpable when several flushed- looking victors from the more obscure categories appeared, happily clutching their trophies, only to be left standing around until someone deigned to raise their number.

Then Tommy Lee Jones walked in, carrying his Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role as the relentless detective in The Fugitive. Now we recognised him. Here was a veteran, someone who could lead us to the elusive core of movie- making, the intoxicating mystery of stardom and success. But we got off to a dismal start.

First question: 'What was it like to have to accept an award with a bald head?' Jones (who shaved it for his latest role) looked disappointed: 'Well, we thought about putting on wigs. We thought about all the other alternatives, but it proved to be a pain, so I decided to come as I am.' A conspiracy theorist tried a different tack: 'Three times tonight you have said how lucky you are to be a working actor,' he said, accusingly, 'so what are you really trying to say?' Jones expained that he was attempting to tell the truth.

It took Anna Paquin, the 11-year- old, to cut through the hogwash. She was brought to us, only moments after her charming acceptance of her Oscar for her role as Holly Hunter's daughter in Jane Campion's The Piano. What was going through her mind, amid the mayhem, we all wanted to know?

'I was thinking, this can't be happening, this can't be happening . . . I never thought I would win it. But, it's pretty fun though.' She was a little daunted, facing 150 or so journalists. After all, she was only a little older than the youngest-ever winner, Tatum O'Neal (Paper Moon, 1973). But she shows early promise in the art of the put-down, an essential weapon in the armoury of any serious player. After a long- winded and silly question about her future career, she replied, witheringly: 'What do you mean?'

Outside, the limos gathered to sweep the glitterati away to the post-awards parties, watched by a disgruntled cop from the LAPD. 'I work nights and I don't even recognise these people,' he growled. Tomorrow, it would be business as usual.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project