In this interview series, we ask some famous freethinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. As awards night draws near, let’s bring the season to a conclusion with our returning mistress of ceremonies, actress, writer and performance artist Ann Magnuson.
Ann, welcome back. So tell us: which performers and films are going to win the Oscar this year?
Throughout Oscar history, it is understood that this year is so-and-so’s “time.” It’s pre-ordained, like a commandment brought down from Mt. Sinai. Last year was Jeff Bridges’ “time.” This year is Colin Firth’s “time.” So to better reflect this immutable fact, the telecast needs to borrow from one of Hollywood’s greatest showmen, Cecil B. DeMille:
We hear, “And the winner is…” then cut to a long shot of the audience. An ominous wisp of Technicolor green smoke appears -– the same effect from DeMille’s 1956 version of “The Ten Commandments,” when the firstborn of Egypt are slain by God’s not-so-fickle finger of fate. The smoke creeps dramatically toward the nominees. Then, the audience parts like the Red Sea, and the winner is CGI’d out of their seat and whisked into the press room, bypassing the stage altogether, because it’s the Almighty Media who trump even God’s power in this day and age.
It would also appear to be Annette Bening’s “time,” though Natalie Portman is also a shoo-in, having won all this year’s best actress awards. So, if we’re lucky, the votes will be split between Portman and Bening, and a big “upset” will occur. This telecast is sorely in need of that. We need more deep gasps and visible shock from the audience. Secretly, I’d love to see Michelle Williams reap the benefits of such a split, but her talent is so mega that her “time” will eventually come.
It would also be great to see Melissa Leo win, because it might ensure more leading roles for Middle Aged Actresses Who Are Not Meryl Streep. (We all love Meryl but, c’mon, aren’t we a little tired of seeing her land every part in her age range? Toss Jessica Lange a bone already.)
Alright, excellent start. But if you were in charge of academy votes, which performers and films would go home with an Oscar?
Honestly, of all the nominees, I’ve only seen “The King’s Speech,” which I liked. I’ve been meaning to watch “The Social Network,” but every time the opportunity arises, I opt for another Fred Astaire movie, or an obscure Joseph von Sternberg silent. But let me go on record as saying David Fincher should go home with Oscar gold, because I worked with him in “Panic Room” and hope he casts me in another one of his movies. Besides, it’s his “time.”
We’d all like to see Banksy win (for “Exit Through the Gift Shop”) to see who shows up to collect the statuette. I’ve been told that Banksy is really Damien Hirst, a rather sad, disappointing and, frankly downright obscene thought. Whoever this guy is (and it could be a gal, but that would be too much to hope for), you know “Banksy” will make some kind of an art piece from his Oscar, so for that reason alone he/she/they should win.