Contains Oscar blunders, ways to channel Scotland on the BBC, my David Tennant, fridge food wars and thank fock Shine is over
A version of this appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail on February 28 2017
Until early Monday morning, I thought the biggest explosive moment of the awards season would be the moment Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield finally blew up at each other.
After four years together, Spider-man and La La Lady called it quits last year, only to be forced back together by a string of movie awards where he was nominated as best actor for Hacksaw Ridge, and she was collecting hardware as the lead in La La Land.
What could be more thrilling for two exes than having to spend more time together, after splitting up? And by “thrilling” I mean “like putting nitro-glycerine in a bucket and giving it a vigorous stir with a stick”. However in the end, Andy and Ems kept it disappointingly classy. Perhaps they even went through the awards goody bags together afterwards, so that they could swap all her aftershaves for his foot pampering kits.
Never mind; this year the Oscars managed a result we could all enjoy by announcing the wrong winner for Best Picture. Instead of La La Land — a movie that claims that us ladies can’t resist a man if he bangs on about jazz piano — the deserving winner was almost anything else: in this case, Moonlight.
By the way, did you know that Vladimir Putin is a big fan of jazz piano? It’s absolutely true: just putting it out there for the kind of people who enjoy speculating that the independence referendum was ruined because people voted in pencil, or posting fake videos of Yes votes being dumped in bins.
This is not the most embarrassing thing to happen to Academy Award presenter Warren Beatty, who once made a film about the straight arrow detective Dick Tracy then allowed his girlfriend Madonna to put a song about spanking on its soundtrack. Also the Best Picture Oscar has gone to the wrong film loads of times before. This was just the first time they actually noticed in time.
Personally, I’m rather pleased about Moonlight’s win: it’s a more substantial, sensitive, evocative and surprising movie than La La Land, and its Best Picture win might persuade a few more people to give it a go. I also have some sympathy for the whole cockup: I once presented an award at a ceremony that had neither scripts nor envelopes, and as I got to the end of my memorised speech, I realised I had forgotten the winner’s name. Desperately, I just pointed at the director and hollered heartily, “Yes! It’s you — come on down!” as if hosting The Film Prize Is Right.
The Oscars has a lingering question of course: if Emma Stone’s card was in the best picture envelope, WHAT was in the best actress envelope? Isabelle Huppert, get a lawyer. Otherwise, it would be great if we could get Warren and Faye Dunaway to announce everything, always. Well, maybe not your biopsy results or a pregnancy test; but already the Democrats should be emailing to book them for the next Presidential election, Labour would like them to MC their next leadership contest, and someone called Alex from Gordon thinks they might be able to find an unresignation letter that he wrote back in 2014
By the way, I enjoyed the Oscars teasing Meryl Streep about Trump calling her “overrated”. And it makes a change from the President’s normal insult for women: “over 40.”
Makeup, toothbrushes, and pants. Three things that should never be borrowed or used second-hand. I’d add packed lunches to the list too, but it turns out that some people are not so picky.
Last week, some weirdo rifled through an office fridge and stole the salt beef bagel that my better half had bought in for his lunch. Even more insultingly, they left behind my home-made carrot soup.
It’s a scenario played out in the work places the world over but I don’t understand foodtheft: aside from polluting your trust in co-workers, who can be that confident about other people’s food prep hygiene?
And yet sandwiches get swiped, yogurts vanish and in one office fridge, a fed-up owner of a half-pound of butter felt moved to carve the warning “Fuck Off” into the top of it.
A friend recalls a series of fridge thefts that became a cold war. “I LICKED THIS CHEESE” announced a Post-It note on a pile of Mini babybels. Another started adding pink food colour to their personal milk supply, to keep tabs on use. But one wild-eyed worker topped them all, by pinning a note on the fridge door, claiming she’d laced her last milk bottle with cocaine and was now recommending the office for drug testing.
That seems extreme. Arsenic makes a similar point, without the paperwork
The Glasgow Film Festival came to a close at the weekend with the world premiere of David Tennant’s new film about the controversial scots psychiatrist RD Laing, Mad to Be Normal. So on Sunday afternoon, I recorded an interview with David for the BBC, in a studio that was a handy ten minutes from my house.
“I live just round the corner, so if something goes wrong, you could come round and we could rerecord it in the kitchen,” I told David, cheerily.
“Yeeeeeeees” he said, as if I’d suggested going to my house and feeding his gentlemen bits to hungry dogs.
A pity, because my house is like the Tardis. Admittedly it’s not bigger than it looks inside, but it has a lot of gadgets, there doesn’t seem to be any food, and the noise it generates is incredible.
One highlight of the Glasgow Film Festival unexpectedly celebrates Forres on the big screen. When a Dutch-Iranian filmmaker first visited Moray in 2011, he became intrigued by the people of Forres. The result is Bodkin Ras, where the locals play themselves. Already they have had rave reviews in the Netherlands, with one paper marvelling at the “juicy Scottish accents”.
However some Forres-style celebrations after the Scottish premier almost broke the Dutch director and his one professional actor. When he finally surfaced, 24 hours later, he admitted that some of his most difficult scenes were shot around the Moray pubs: as soon as the director called “cut”, his thirsty actors would head inside for a refreshing top up
I’m delighted the BBC is giving Scotland a new channel, instead of just a Scottish Six that a mere 23% of Scots had any enthusiasm for.
Instead of one hour of news watched by a handful of activists and journalists’ mums, we are to get a £30m investment that benefits not just journalists but Scottish culture.
It offers a platform for the awardwinning documentaries made here; Battle Mountain, David Street’s film about Graeme Obree, had to be cut down to an hour to fit a slot for BBC 2 recently but could run at its intended length on the Scottish channel. May Miles Thomas’ film The Devil’s Plantation played to packed houses and rave reviews at the Glasgow Film Festival a while back, but has not been seen since — a Scottish channel would fix that. And maybe, just maybe, a Scottish channel could bring back Limmy’s Show, a comedy show which developed a cult following on its first outing.
Only John Nicolson of the SNP is unhappy. Just before the announcement, he claimed to Radio 4 that “people in BBC Scotland have been walking around with their heads in their hands”, such was the despair at not being given a Scottish Six.
Nonsense: in fact there was a very strong feeling at BBC Scotland that the money could be better spent — and now it will be.
Yet Mr Nicolson is dismayed that the BBC has promised more money spent Scotland, will give viewers more choice, and will offer showcases for Scottish talent. As one BBC journalist said to me this week, Nicolson seems to be the kind of person who gets a car, and wishes that it was a bus pass.
If everyone sang their songs at the normal speed, and with the right amount of notes, the grand finale of BBC 1’s Shine would have been over and done in 15 minutes.
Washing machine manufacturers: Look, we have made a machine with more than twenty carefully calibrated wash options!
Me: OK. So can I use the quick one or the other one?
Liberace-President Donald Trump is now the first US president since Truman to skip Correspondents Dinner. He trashes everyone on the planet but can’t sit for one roast. They should borrow Clint Eastwood’s empty chair instead.