Tuesday 13 January 2009
Brian Viner: Get a grip, Kate. You're embarrassing us
A sensible girl from Reading succumbs dreadfully to awards-itis
Scarcely has the curtain fallen on the season to be jolly than it rises on the season to be jolly narcissistic. This is when actors rehearse what they were never taught in drama school, how to look gracious while some other bugger walks off with a best-acting statuette, or how to look as if they are humbled beyond measure when the statuette is handed to them.
And of course no awards season is complete without at least one of them – usually, it has to be said, female – giving an acceptance speech that would make a corpse wince with embarrassment. On Sunday night, at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles, Britain's own Kate Winslet duly obliged, seemingly on the brink of hyperventilating with emotion as she issued an apology to her fellow Best Actress nominees Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Kristin Scott Thomas and Angelina Jolie. "I'm so sorry, Anne, Meryl, Kristin... oh God, who's the other one... Angelina," she gushed, after being handed the award for her performance in the film Revolutionary Road.
In the audience Angelina smiled supportively, perhaps recognising that there, but for the grace of the very God Winslet had cited, went she and all the others. Winslet had spared them the indignity of making prize Paltrows of themselves, by doing it herself.
As sure as carpets are red, the awards season will produce a Paltrow or two, but I wouldn't have expected it of Winslet, whose irreproachably middle-class upbringing in Reading has always seemed to imbue her with a rather sensible outlook on life.
She might be a Valley girl, but it is the Thames Valley, not the San Fernando Valley, and although things could have gone horribly wrong after she made her acting debut at the precocious age of 11, dancing opposite the Honey Monster in a Sugar Puffs commercial, they didn't.
Indeed, it's not so long since she very gamely lampooned the whole Hollywood schtick as a guest star alongside Ricky Gervais in his television series Extras, explaining that she was making a film about the Holocaust because she was so fed up after being nominated for four Oscars but never winning.
Everyone who makes a film about the Holocaust, she asserted, ends up winning an Oscar. In the same programme, while dressed as a nun, she gave tips on how best to enjoy phone sex. Gervais later said that of all the guests on Extras, she was his favourite. Certainly, by refusing to take herself too seriously, it seemed that Winslet had film stardom in perspective. Hell, she even has children with sensible names, Mia and Joe rather than Bubble Gum Eucalyptus Tree and Toffee Banana Monkey Wrench.
On Sunday, however, she succumbed dreadfully to awards-itis, responding to her Golden Globe with the kind of tear-stained intensity that some women reserve for the moment they are handed their first-born child. I'm sure she worked extremely hard on Revolutionary Road, and that she's absolutely terrific in it, and of course one mustn't overlook the fact that the film was directed by her talented husband Sam Mendes, giving her further cause for pride, but our own pride in this latest accomplishment by a fine British actress was diminished as soon as the first tear plopped onto that lovely cheek.
Never mind sorry to Anne, Meryl, Kristin and oh God, who's the other one. It's us, her loyal British fans, to whom she should apologise. We expect less of you, Kate, much less.
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