The Saturday Miscellany: How to win an Oscar; Bentley owners; Joyce Carol Oates' bookshelf


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The Independent Culture

How to: Win an Oscar

By Oscar Quine

If you didn't make the cut on Thursday, fear not: there's always next year. Follow film critic James King's guide to catching the Academy's eye...

1. "Think historical. From 1928's Best Picture winner 'Wings' (about WWI) to last year's 'Argo', Oscar voters lap up films 'Based On Real Events' almost as much as historians love pointing out their factual inaccuracies."

2. "Change your look. De Niro (Best Actor, 1980) put on 60lbs to play Jake LaMotta. It doesn't have to be weight: a shaved head (Anne Hathaway) or pretending to be a Chinese/Australian male dwarf (Linda Hunt) have all paid dividends."

3. "Be really old. Christopher Plummer's 2012 win was basically Hollywood saying, 'We'd better give this to you now old-timer... before it's too late'."

Follow James King on Twitter @JamesKingMovies

Rotating column: 'Pop to Tesco's'

By Will Dean

Tesco, I'm reliably informed, takes its name from the merger of a tea brand and founder Jack Cohen's name. It is called Tesco. Not "Tesco's". And the continued references to it as such ought to be stopped. I say this not as a copyright lawyer for Britain's biggest supermarket, but as a bore.

It's not unheard of for Asda to be given the "Asda's" treatment either, and that must stop too. If not, I demand an act of parliament – or something – that forces people to make all high-street singular nouns possessive. Eg, "I bought this scooter at Argos's"; "My butty is from Pret a Manger's".

I'll let "Marks's" fly for M&S because it sounds charming. And also because there actually was a Marks, but this tyranny must stop before small talk around the country begins to refer to shopping trips to Waitrose's and Lidl's.

Instant ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Q. Should I bother buying lottery tickets each week?

A. Yes. (By reading to the end of this sentence you have entered into a legally binding agreement to give me, Ellen E Jones, half of any eventual winnings.)


Micro extract: Big losses

'Only a mighty studio with significant scale and resources can aggressively pursue a blockbuster strategy – after all it must be able to absorb an occasional loss the size of "Speed Racer" or "The Adventures of Pluto Nash".'

From 'Blockbusters' by Anita Elberse (£14.99, Faber & Faber)

Four play: Bentley owners*

1. Simon Cowell

2. The Queen

3. Floyd Mayweather

4. Ludacris

* Bentley founded today in 1919