Scott, To Be Certain


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hudson 1 Knowles 0

I'm loving that someone from American Idol has won an Oscar.

"I wanted to look like him," claims Britney

But even more than that, I simply can't get enough of the riotous sing-off between Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé during the Oscar ceremony.

It's like musical bloodsport, isn't it? They're all smiles and sass but you just know they want to spike each other's eyeballs with a compass like a toothpick through a cocktail olive.

At least they got the casting right. Beyoncé's voice is definitely no match for the bellowing force of the J-Hud vocal cords.

In fact, when you think about it, Jennifer has been doling out the incomparable spine-tinglers - and honing her diva-craft - since her American Idol days.

Check out her performance of Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New England" the night before she was ejected from that series. It is one of the finest Idol performances ever.

It's worth listening to in full, particularly the judges' comments:

Simon Cowell: "You've created...a battle of the divas. I'm sure you all really love each other... Not. How do you feel?"

J-Hud: "I feel like I'm getting to be me. This is Jenny's world."

Totally fucking amazing. It seems to all make sense now, doesn't it? ("Not really" - Fantasia Barrino)

For my fifth and last contribution to the BBC Oscars Panel, in which I couldn't resist tipping my hat to both these divas, click here.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Good, The Bad & The Oscar

Watching the most self-congratulatory industry on the planet feverishly reward itself over four long hours is guaranteed to produce pop cultural gold on every occasion.

To assist you to navigate your way through your respective post-Oscars bitchfests, I have packaged my take on the show's highlights into helpful categories for your review.

Best Dressed

1. This precocious wench warbled her way through an excruciating, undeserved Best Actress victory in 1999 with Maggie T hair and the ugliest piece of pink fabric known to mankind, then followed it up the following year with brooding eyeliner, saggy tits and a curtain.

Who would have thought that 7 years later Gwyneth Paltrow would finally again exhibit the kind of sultry beauty she oozed in Great Expectations but not since - this bronze number was stunning (or would Meryl Streep's Prada fashionista call it 'vermillion'?):

2. Kudos also to Reese Witherspoon, who offset her increasingly prominent chin with a simple but elegant blue sleeveless gown. Note the absent handbag.


1. So Martin Scorcese has finally won. It's so interesting that his desperate quest for Oscar, which drove him to make pretentious, bait-y films like The Age of Innocence, Gangs of New York and The Aviator has finally ended with a film that is perhaps the least bait-y of his career. The Departed is probably the darkest and bleakest Best Picture winner since Silence of the Lambs (1992) and the biggest box office smash to win the prize since The Return of the King (2004) and Titanic (1998). None of the other contenders was remotely successful comparatively; this could be one of the night's most potent messages.

2. Alan Arkin was an upset winner over Eddie Murphy, whose ill-timed, woeful Norbit hit theatres at exactly the wrong time. Arkin had been nominated 38 years before, putting him in the record books for the longest pause between nominations along side Jack Palance (who featured in the Weepy Violin Dead People Montage) and Helen Hayes. Like Palance and Hayes, he won on his second nomination.

3. Forest Whitaker pulled out his heavily favoured win ahead of Peter O'Toole - I'm happy to eat humble pie on this one, as it was a powerhouse performance. However, it's exasperating that Whitaker, a world class performer who has now given approximately 10 acceptance speeches at prominent, televised ceremonies for this role, has each time been speechless, sappy and under-prepared.


1. Ellen De Generes - a fine first hosting attempt brimming with memorable moments. The obligatory political quip about America voting for Al Gore was well executed, but I particularly enjoyed, "Without gays, Jews and blacks, there wouldn't even be any Oscars. Or anyone named Oscar." I sense that many commentators will misinterpret her seemingly haphazard delivery for nerves, but this delivery is actually the cornerstone of her uniquely self-deprecating humour. I enjoyed it and hope she comes back for more.

2. Ellen pointedly referencing Oscar acceptance speech clichés, such as Horseface Swank's assertion that she once lived in her car. Ellen had had me at hello but this was the clincher.

3. Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé giving themselves coronaries during an onstage singing smackdown, only to have their thunder stolen by jealous little bitch Celine Dion and her incomprehensibly pouty fish lips at the end of her song.

4. With Ellen and performer/winner Melissa Etheridge hogging the stage, I knew it was only a matter of time until jealous little bitch Jodie Foster appeared.

5. Meryl Streep - even from her seat she stole the show. Her spontaneous in-character response to Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt reprising their Prada roles was gold. The Oscars desperately need Meryl back on the podium to deliver one of her brilliant and hysterical acceptance speeches. (Some say 2009 might be her year...)

Really quite shit, actually

1. The entire opening montage. Lame.

2. Ellen's misguided use of a tambourine and backing choir.

3. Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly singing something rubbish.

4. Emanuel Lubezki losing best cinematography for Children of Men. Criminal.

5. Gustavo Santoalalla winning Best Original Score for the 2nd consecutive year - his haunting Brokeback Mountain score was thoroughly deserving but he did frankly bugger-all with Babel. This category is notoriously difficult for newcomers to penetrate and the lazy, repeat voting pattern epitomised by this result suggests it will remain that way for a while to come.

6. It amazes me that that the world's finest actors are incapable of making their introductory repartee sound remotely natural. I accept that most of it is scripted, stilted rubbish - but there must be ways for these alleged experts to deliver the material palatably. Of course, when in doubt, just snort a fistful of coke, Diane Keaton's apparently favourite way to prepare for announcements of Best Picture winners.


1. Cameron Diaz's cheekbones. You can cut bread with them.

2. Poor Anna Nicole Smith - as if her well-documented travails in life and death weren't sufficiently tragic, she has now also been snubbed by the Academy's Weepy Violin Dead People Montage department. Surely her gripping work in The Hudsucker Proxy and Naked Gun 33 1/3 qualified her for a mention?

And I guess that's that for another year. Or should I say, "That's all."

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 26, 2007

Puh-lease Academy

The Academy Awards are due to start in about 45 minutes by my reckoning.

Like a true tragic Oscar obsessive, I am enforcing a full media embargo today to preserve an element of suspense.

Not that there are too many unexpected twists in store. Many categories are done deals: Dame Helen Mirren, Jennifer Hudson and Martin Scorcese are prohibitive favourites who, barring a cataclysmic tear in the space-time continuum, will be taking some gold home for their mantle for the first time.

It's perhaps this desperate wish for surprise that has led me to controversially tip an upset win for Peter O'Toole in Best Actor. Catch my reasoning here in my pre-ceremony prediction article for the BBC.

In any event, the boring, pre-ordained victories will thankfully be balanced out from an entertainment perspective by two important factors:

1. Best Picture, the last award of the night usually bestowed after a 15-hour telecast, is this year a genuine race. And unlike last year, I think almost any of the films would be deserving, though I'm picking a showdown between Babel and The Departed.


This comic genius, hosting for the first time, is the best thing to happen to this event in many, many years. I hope she does an introductory segment using interpretive dance, which she incorporated brilliantly into one of her recent stand-up tours. Bring it on.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Show Me The Monkey

Continuing the theme of undeserving hacks inexplicably acquiring Oscars:

"Please have my autograph"

That would be Cuba Gooding Jr, who in 1997 won a best supporting actor Oscar for Jerry Maguire.

Cuba was admittedly charismatic in the film, but in a category also featuring the impressive comic posturing of William H. Macy in Fargo and the shocking duplicity of Edward Norton in Primal Fear, he should have placed 3rd (at best).

Ironically, I bet Cuba also wishes Macy or Norton had won, because his career has been in a free-falling decline ever since. His relationship with Hollywood now resembles the futile, desperate ambitions of someone fleeing his namesake country.

Check out his principal contributions to the annals of history since Oscar:

That second nomination must be just around the corner.

In his defense, it must be a complete headfuck to win an Oscar. You must think you're hot shit, and perhaps brilliant in anything you touch, including anything comedy-related, since your winning role featured that in spades.

But when you win an Oscar for playing someone who thinks he's hot shit, and perhaps brilliant in anything he touches, and then reveal yourself to be not unlike your famous character, that's when the Academy would like to create a rule called Award Recall.

Maybe it's not all Cuba's fault. Maybe the greatest irony for this actor made famous by Jerry Maguire is that his agent is to blame. Who else can be responsible for convincing Cuba to feature almost exclusively in ill-advised comedy vehicles?

At least Cuba has wised up to his poor choices. In early 2006 he declared that he would never star again in another comedy. In explaining his commitment, he said, "The studios won't see me now. I know my stock is low. I thought people wanted me to make them laugh, but I was wrong on so many levels. I try to take all my energy and take it into comedy, and that's when I'm terrible."

Say hello to Cuba's current film:

So much for that then! (Looks like the tagline has added poignancy.)

And that's not all. Cuba is so comedy-averse and quality-driven nowadays that not only is he starring opposite Eddie Murphy in the worst reviewed movie of Murphy's career, but he is signing up for sequels to comedies originally starring Eddie Murphy that not even Eddie Murphy will touch.

Murphy's mediocre 2003 effort Daddy Day Care was apparently not sufficiently explored as a comic premise - it is about to spawn a Cuba-led sequel called Daddy Day Camp.

But wait til you find out who is directing Cuba in this awards magnet of a film!

Yes! Fred Savage, aka Kevin Arnold! (I am not making this shit up.)

Fred was cute as a button as a youngster but it seems that he now, at 30, has such a heinous face that he has chosen to forge a "career" behind the scenes.

Now I really am stumped - is this comedy or tragedy?

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Swank 2 Winslet 0

In these polarising, unstable times, you can count on S2BC to shine a spotlight on the important issues.

That Kate Winslet is still without an Oscar is one of those issues.

It's hard to believe that not one of these stunning, unforgettable character creations has been recognised by the Academy:

Clockwise from top left:
'Juliet Hulme' in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994)
'Marianne Dashwood' in Ang Lee's Sense & Sensibility (1995)
'Iris Murdoch' in Richard Eyre's Iris (2001)
'Clementine Kruczynski' in Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine... (2004)
'Sarah Pierce' in Todd Field's Little Children (2006)
'Rose DeWitt Bukater' in James Cameron's Titanic (1997)
'Maddy Leclerc' in Philip Kaufman's Quills (2000)
'Ruth Barron' in Jane Campion's Holy Smoke! (1997)

Kate's first starring role was in 1994 in Peter Jackson's harrowing film based on true events, Heavenly Creatures. It was a star-making performance, full of such impressive actorly skill and control that within a year she was snapped up for the lavish period production Sense & Sensibility, holding her own alongside Emma Thompson and earning her 1st Oscar nomination for best supporting actress. To date, it is probably the closest she's ever been to Oscar, winning the lead-up SAG but eventually losing out at the Oscars to Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite. (And hasn't Mira's career just kicked on fabulously after that win.)

Kate's first true attempt at mastering the American accent for the big screen was her effervescent performance in Titanic, for which she earnt her 2nd Oscar nomination and 1st for best actress. She lost out to the dreadful Helen Cunt Hunt for As Good As It Gets in a result that will forever embarrass Hollywood: Hunt was the only American woman nominated that year and owed her victory entirely, it appeared, to parochial voters. (Dame Judi Dench was the biggest loser, having delivered by far the best performance in Her Majesty, Mrs Brown. So immediately embarrassed was the Academy that they felt it necessary to award Dame Judi's undeserving 8-minute Shakespeare in Love performance in a fit of guilt the following year.)

The success of Titanic made Kate one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, but she's an actor's actor and it was unsurprising that her next big gig was a low-budget vehicle for a true film-making auteur: Jane Campion's Holy Smoke!. Kate added a perfect Australian accent to her repertoire in the role of Ruth, a girl who has a spiritual awakening while travelling through India. It was a tour-de-force performance worthy of an Oscar, but no-one noticed, despite (or perhaps because of) Harvey Keitel flopping his cock out yet again.

More period fare followed in Quills (opposite Geoffrey Rush's hammy Marquis de Sade) and Iris, the latter of which earned Kate her 3rd Oscar nomination as best supporting actress. She played the young Iris Murdoch, the famous author who developed Alzheimer's disease in later life. Kate lost the Oscar that year (2001) to A Beautiful Mind's Jennifer Connelly (whose onscreen husband Kate would later attempt to steal as revenge in this year's Little Children).

Kate's 4th Oscar nomination came in 2004 for her best performance to date in the complex, heart-breaking Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It was such a charismatic, energetic and insane performance imbued at times with such tenderness that Clementine remains perhaps Kate's most memorable and fully realised creation. She lost that year to Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby.


In the context of Kate's consistently brilliant filmography, it is difficult to swallow that this piece of white trash has somehow managed to claim 2 Oscars.

Now, I won't begrudge Hilary her 1999 Oscar for Boys Don't Cry: although I maintain that Kate should have been nominated for Holy Smoke! that year, Swank was deserving in her absence. But for her to win a second time just 5 years later for playing someone from a trailer park AGAIN - come on, it really is not much of an acting challenge for her - is just shithouse form on the part of the Academy.

Unfortunately, Kate's drought is going to continue - she will lose a 5th consecutive time on February 26th. (Fortunately, she will be losing to a worthy winner this time: Ilyena Vasilievna Mirinova, aka Dame Helen Mirren.)

A win for Kate can't be far off - surely?

Click here to read my 3rd instalment in a series of articles for the BBC on the Oscars, in which I seize an opportunity to carry my anti-Hilary message to a wider audience.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Brow-sing JoJo's Back Catalogue

It seems there is an entire iceberg of stupefying decisions lurking beneath our surface exploration of the JoJo Marketing Fiasco.

For those of you who don't know who the fuck I'm talking about, allow me a brief summation.

Age: 16
Full name: Joanna Noëlle Levesque
Occupation: Singer
Biggest Hits: "Leave (Get Out)", "Too Little, Too Late"
Likes: Evictions
Dislikes: Small quantities delivered unpunctually

As you know, JoJo has been busy revealing her future tuck-shop lady arms on the front of her new single.

Thankfully, my dear friend Adem pointed out to me that JoJo's "people" have released a far more sensible single cover for the Australian market.

MUCH better - hopefully there is no prescient irony in the song's title.

But this whole saga of variable cover art is obviously of sufficient concern to warrant a full-scale investigation of her back catalogue.

And the results are truly staggering.

Let's take a look at JoJo's first single, "Leave (Get Out)", which marked the very first use of brackets as a proxy thesaurus in the history of recorded music. It had no less than 6 different covers worldwide.

One of them is half-way decent:

Some are innocuous:

And then, of course, the one used in Australia and the United States:


In particular, what is she doing with her enormous hand? Is that a pair of binoculars, or a set of jumper leads? Is JoJo actually a Thunderbird, moonlighting as a mechanic? What sort of boardroom dialogue preceded the selection of this warped cover art for the world's biggest market?

There is a possibility I know fuck-all since the song went to #12 in the US and to #2 here. And I suppose I should be thankful her "people" have since lifted their game. As far as I can tell, there are only 3 versions of "Too Little, Too Late".

The last of which appears to cleverly provide a ready-made door in the background through which the subject of JoJo's displeasure will soon be exhorted to depart (exit).

So it's not all bad news - but Universal Music should remain on their toes.

Over at the iTunes Store, which is swarming with erudite critiques of JoJo's output, fans are similarly concerned about the way she is being packaged for consumption.

boldly suggests, "It sounds like shes sung frew a computer its not nattural".

Indeed. But at least we can count on JoJo's au naturel eyebrow philosophy.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Santa's Little Backstage Helper

Who can blame Salma Hayek for ingesting a little powdery pick-me-up on the morning of the Oscar nominations.

It was 5.30am in the middle of winter, with only her runny nose and uncommonly aggressive response to Penelope Cruz's nomination the only hints of her backstage dalliance with Charlie.

However, some celebrities have been slightly more overt in telegraphing their preferred methods of settling pre-show nerves.

Now, it's no secret that Paula Abdul has had her fair share of incoherent moments on American Idol. This interview, though, is her finest performance.

Which is nothing, of course, when compared to the best onstage "what the fuck was that" performance of all time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Anna Nicole's most important legacy:

There are so many brilliant contributions to pop culture in this 93 second snippet. How do you rank these gems:

"Like my body?"
"If I ever record an album, I want this guy to produce mah"
"Make me beautiful duet!"
"'Cos he's FREAKIN' GENIUS!"
[Raising hands over head in reverential applause]

It's ironic that at the moment lots of people like her body, principally those seeking to assert their paternity in the great "Who's Her Daddy" case of 2007.

Soon, we will know who exactly made beautiful duet with Anna Nicole, but it's unlikely to involve either genius or applause.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What (A) Waste

If you've ever wondered what would happen if you crossed Sophie Monk with Milla Jovovich (obviously you've regularly done so), this is the answer.

Poor bitch! The pain.

Sometimes there are simple, beautiful pleasures in well-executed advertising, no?

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Of A Certain Age

Thank goodness for The Age website, that infallible cultural commentator.

Their use today of the above photo and caption informed me that Helen Mirren, by winning the best lead actress BAFTA for The Queen, is now entitled to be considered "a favourite" for an Oscar.

Without this insight, I would have misinterpreted the awards season trend, which looks something like this.

Bodies awarding Helen Mirren's performance in The Queen prior to BAFTA

National Board of Review
Boston Film Critics Society
New York Film Critics Circle
Los Angeles Film Critics Circle
New York Film Critics Online
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
National Society of Film Critics
Dallas Fort Worth Society of Film Critics
Vancouver Film Critics Society
Washington DC Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Society
Golden Satellites
Southeastern Film Critics Society
Women Film Critics Circle
Iowa Film Critics Society
Toronto Film Critics Society
Florida Film Critics Association
St Louis Film Critics Association
Phoenix Society of Film Critics
Kansas City Film Critics Society
Chicago Film Critics Society
Online Film Critics Circle
Utah Film Critics Society
Oklahoma Film Critics Association
Golden Globes (Hollywood Foreign Press Association)
Screen Actors' Guild

Bodies not recognising Helen Mirren as Best Actress

Of the remaining nominees, only Meryl Streep got a fleeting look at the podium thanks to the Golden Globes retention of separate drama and comedy categories. She won for The Devil Wears Prada.

The only other non-Mirren victor was Ellen Page, who somehow persuaded the Austin Film Critics that her reasonable turn as a 14 year old potential paedophilia victim in Hard Candy was the best performance of the year. It seems a bizarre choice until you begin imagining a cinema full of titillated trigger-happy Bush-loving Texans creaming themselves over her convincingly adult performance, and then it all makes sense.

The rest of the world realises that no woman other than Helen Mirren was ever in the running for the Best Actress Oscar this year.

I am now realising The Age online is actually a bit shit.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Under The Covers

It is a ceaseless wonder to me how certain decisions of the musical industry are arrived at.

"Are you referring to the tragic partnership of me and a recording studio"

I was actually thinking more along the lines of truly fucked up album and/or single covers.

Certainly, album art and photography has a long and interesting history, checkered with some inexplicable horrors.

"Are you suggesting I am not realistically depicted in this photograph"

Well, I guess that depends on whether or not you're actually Deborah Harry. But life isn't all about you, Steph, no matter what Channel 10/Universal attempt to contract.

This is about the smaller, curious mysteries.

"Are you referring to my suddenly angular features"

I'd prefer not to imagine anything about you at an angle, to be honest. (Especially not 'to the left, to the left'.) And the people responsible for that photo are obviously, much like your face, not short of work.

No, I'm talking about the photographer/graphic designer who decided that the most attractive and plausible pose for a young woman to assume in promoting her first single in 3 years would be to imagine herself with BO.

And so it is that JoJo, the seasoned pop/R&B crossover veteran, appears to be promoting deodorant rather than her surprisingly good new song. Of course, she could just be leaning against a baguette.

But that's nothing when you consider, say, Jamelia's latest offering.

You all know Jamelia. She's been around for years, and was responsible for the ubiquitous and now unfortunately death-inspiring song "Superstar". She had a number of other hit singles on her last album, which were sexily and appealingly advertised. For example:

So we're talking about a good looking lass. The bling/pout combo has also previously worked well for her.

Which makes the recent decision in releasing the latest addition to her œuvre all the more inconceivable. Her singles "Something About You" and "Beware Of The Dog", released in the UK late last year, completely tanked. The former has just been released here - you will no doubt catch it during its saturation airplay run on Nova. In doing so, you'll realise it's a stunningly good song and a fucking waste to end up in the bargain bin.

But not surprising, because it features on an album that looks like this:

Which should have screamed "Look, I'm that sexy chick from a couple of years ago returning to release my kick-arse new material which shits all over my hugely successful but annoying previous output" but instead unequivocally states, despite her name in bold lettering, "Welcome to the M People tribute album".

It's amazing, isn't it, this continuing legacy of Trish Goddard Heather Small. Not only inspiring misguided photo shoots by fellow black Brits experiencing complete apathy vis-à-vis the record buying public, but also providing the soundtrack to American weight loss. Even Oprah's loving the whole Medusa hair thing.

Such a fairweather friend, Oprah. She wasn't interested back when Heather was movin' on up. But chuck in some fat people and suburban book club themes like "Pride" and she is on that bandwagon in a flash.

But back to Jamelia. Fortunately for her, it really is all about the music. She has fronted some excellent songs and can therefore sleep well at night (with no need for pillows).

However, it is also all about the look. While Jamelia can always return to pout/bling combo, JoJo will be left with freakish eyebrows until the end of time.

At least until she meets the Australian album artist du jour to computerise her features out of existence.

Labels: , , , , ,