Entertainment & Arts

Reporter's log: Oscars 2013

The movie world's biggest night of the year, the Academy Awards, has taken place in Los Angeles. The BBC's Emma Saunders was backstage at the ceremony.


Image caption Quentin Tarantino got the biggest cheer in the backstage press room

And Oscar night belonged to… well, Daniel Day-Lewis won an historic third Academy Award, but there was more than one story to be found in what was the most open Oscar race in years.

Ben Affleck was vindicated after being snubbed in the best director category, winning best picture for Argo, and Ang Lee's magical Life of Pi was the biggest winner with four prizes.

Image caption Anne Hathaway took best supporting actress for her role in Les Miserables

It might be a stretch to call him the comeback kid, but Affleck has had a varied career, to say the least.

He won best screenplay with Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting in 1998. But five years later, he had swapped Oscars for Razzies, with Gigli, in which he starred with then fiancee Jennifer Lopez, sweeping the Golden Raspberry Awards.

After missing out on a best director nod for Argo, winning the night's big prize certainly felt like a huge turnaround.

As for the UK, hopes weren't high going into Sunday night, but at least Day-Lewis was happy to accept his statuette on behalf of both the Brits and the Irish.

Asked in the press room backstage whether he would celebrate his win the Irish or the British way, he replied diplomatically: "I'm happy with either one personally. I guess I'll do it LA-style."

Adele also flew the flag for her home country with a hotly anticipated win for Skyfall, which won best original song.

And it was a good night for British production company Working Title, which took home three prizes for Les Miserables, including best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway and best costumes for Anna Karenina.

Perhaps the most unpredictable category was best supporting actor, and it was something of a surprise to some when Christoph Waltz walked away with the prize for the second time in three years.

Both his wins have been for Quentin Tarantino movies. The biggest cheer in the press room came when the controversial film-maker won best screenplay for Western slave drama Django Unchained.

The American auteur was the most entertaining raconteur in the interview room, telling reporters: "I make movies for the planet Earth."

Image caption A banner highlighting the visual effects industry was flown over the venue

A lot of respect will undoubtedly go to Ang Lee for his accomplishment in bringing an "unfilmable" book to the big screen. But Life of Pi's success in the visual effects category was overshadowed by the plight of the effects industry.

Rhythm & Hues, the company behind the effects in Life of Pi, has filed for bankruptcy and there were protests outside the Oscars from visual effects workers who are disgruntled at the state of their industry.

Life of Pi special effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer attempted to address the issue when collecting his team's Oscar, but was drowned out by incidental music.

Backstage, he told reporters: "What I was trying to say up there is that at a time when visual effects movies are dominating the box office… visual effects companies are struggling.

"We've got to figure out how to make this business model work, because there are artists that are struggling right now. It's not just done by anyone pushing buttons. There's artistry involved."

Image caption Quvenzhane Wallis, nine, did not become the youngest best actress winner

Some critics thought there might be an upset on the cards in the best actress category, but Jennifer Lawrence came through and made it to the podium - despite tripping on the stairs on the way up.

It was the only win of the night for quirky romantic drama Silver Linings Playbook, which had eight nominations going into the ceremony.

Steven Spielberg's biopic Lincoln also failed to deliver big, with only two wins - best actor and best production design - out of a possible 12.

Indeed, the night owed as much to the stories that didn't happen as to the ones that did.

Emmanuelle Riva could have become the oldest ever best actress winner on her 86th birthday.

Quvenzhane Wallis could have become the youngest best actress winner at the age of nine.

But Lawrence, who plays a young widow in David O Russell's ensemble drama, had other ideas.

So it was a bag of mixed fortunes. Perhaps the biggest winner of this year's Oscars was the box office - for the first time ever, six best picture nominees crossed the $100m (£66m) mark in the US and Canada.

This year, the Hollywood self-congratulation is probably justified.


It's a wrap. After all the build-up, the highs (Adele towering over host Kristin Chenoweth on the red carpet) and the lows (Jennifer Lawrence picking herself up off the stairs), the Oscars 2013 is over. I feel an Anne Hathaway stifled sob coming on.

Image caption Jennifer Lawrence shrugged off her winning stumble with a smile

Amour director Michael Haneke was the only winner not to come into the press room - which seemed strange given he came into the winner's room yesterday at the Independent Spirit awards.

But Adele was on top form as ever and my faith was restored in Jennifer Lawrence - having started to find her a just a tiny bit irritating over the last few weeks, she was warm and very witty backstage. And extremely good-humoured about her tumble.

Beyond the theatre, the atmosphere is a bit flat already, as just a few TV presenters hover around the red carpet and security relaxes now the winners (and losers) have been packed off safely to their Oscar parties.

La-La land has certainly been an eye-opener and, at least during Oscar week, it's like inhabiting a different planet. In the hotel lift earlier this evening, I overheard two publicists shrieking in disbelief that the Governors Ball "only served a buffet" a couple of years ago. A buffet that probably consisted of caviar, smoked salmon canapes and lobster. It's a hard life.

As for me, it's gone midnight so I've swapped my cocktail dress for leggings and a woolly jumper. Talk about Cinderella. But being invited to the ball was the best ever.


So Oscar decided to share the love at tonight's ceremony, with no single film dominating the 85th Academy Awards.

Image caption Host Seth MacFarlane made light of the scrutiny on his performance

Daniel Day-Lewis shocked everyone - OK, just kidding - by winning best actor for an historic third time. Good job he didn't go into method acting mode on the big night - a US President is only allowed to serve two terms.

(And yes, I know Lincoln was shot just over a month into his second term and the 22nd Amendment wasn't ratified until the 1950s, but let me have my little joke. It's been a long night).

Host Seth MacFarlane has probably succeeded in boosting the coveted 18-35 age group telecast viewing figures, although he may have offended more than a handful of people. I thought he did a good job, and most of the journalists in the press room were laughing more often than groaning.

Quvenzhane Wallis had to be the cutest - and coolest - person in the room. I just can't get enough of her saying "bathtub" in that laidback Southern drawl.

Overall, it was a feelgood Academy Awards, with popular choice Argo - and its director Ben Affleck - ending the evening on a high note.


The day has finally dawned. In just a few hours we will know whether Daniel Day-Lewis has won a third, historic, best actor Oscar.

And how many A-listers Seth MacFarlane manages to offend.

Image caption A historic night for Daniel Day-Lewis?

The huge red carpet was already teeming this morning with glamorous TV hosts, cameras and, of course, film fans on the bleachers.

Two of those fans, Maria and her daughter, Nathalie, had travelled all the way from Switzerland.

"We got two tickets," Maria said.

"The whole family wanted to come - my husband and son wanted to see Natalie Portman!"

Two more fans in prime position were Amy and her daughter Erica from Chicago.

"We have an awesome seat at the front. Who knew? It's random," she says.

Erica is looking forward to seeing Anne Hathaway and Adele.

"We hope she wins, we're going to have fun watching her sing Skyfall."

Hollywood Boulevard is crawling with police and guards. I have never seen security like it.

There are so many roadblocks, it takes about half an hour to get from one street corner to another - a journey that would normally take five minutes.

Having been nearly run over by a fir tree earlier in the week - it is now adorning the entrance to the Dolby theatre - I had another narrow escape when the head of a 10ft Oscars statuette being carried on the shoulders of two men nearly knocked me sideways this morning.

A security guard gave them a good telling off but they seemed oblivious. Everyone is just in the zone.

Meanwhile, buttonholes and zips could be groaning at the Oscars Governors' Ball, which the stars attend after the ceremony before heading to the parties.

The 1,500 guests will munch their way through the likes of wood-fired Oscar-shaped flatbread (6,500 of them), 600 lobsters, 10 pounds of edible gold dust and 5,000 mini-chocolate Oscars.

All washed down by 1,500 bottles of champagne and 2,280 bottles of wine. There could be some sore heads come Monday morning.


Before the red carpet, Saturday was the day for the pink carpet at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Image caption Nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis was in demand on the pink carpet

A much more relaxed event than the Oscars, it's a chance to celebrate indie movies in a marquee just off the beach in Santa Monica.

Despite the laid-back atmosphere, it is still a battle to get the stars to stop and chat on the carpet before they head into the ceremony.

It's a kick in the teeth when you're blown out by a nine-year-old, even if it is Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis. But at least she did give us a wave and a smile before her publicist steered her away.

Supporting actress winner Helen Hunt said she had not decided what to wear to the Oscars yet - time is ticking, Helen!

David O Russell revealed that Silver Linings Playbook was shot in just 33 days.

And the credit for Robert De Niro's Philadelphia accent? Bradley Cooper's uncle Ernie. Cooper grew up where the film was made - his grandma was a waitress in the diner featured in the film.

Back at the hotel, I've just realised the bath products are labelled Bigelow. I hope Kathryn hasn't gone into the pharmaceutical business just because she didn't get a directing nomination this year.


This time last year, when The Artist was the toast of the 84th Academy Awards, trade paper The Hollywood Reporter was cannily predicting which films would be Oscar contenders in 2013.

And their list was pretty impressive - they were spot on with Lincoln, Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Brave and even Beasts of the Southern Wild.

So it is interesting to see what their tips are for next year. They include family comedy drama August; Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Harvey Weinstein; the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis; and Martin Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Saving Mr Banks, about the making of Mary Poppins, casts Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, which should have Oscar all over it.


Image caption The event was hosted by British Consul General Dame Barbara Hay, seen here with Les Miserables director Tom Hooper

Phew. It's been a long night on the red carpet at a gathering to celebrate UK talent at the British Consul General's residence.

Guests included Les Miserables director Tom Hooper and the film's producer, Cameron Mackintosh. But there was disappointment when Sam Barks, who plays Eponine, couldn't make it due to rehearsals for the Les Mis slot at Sunday's ceremony (particularly for me as we both come from the Isle of Man - I saw her in a couple of am dram productions a few years ago. The girl done good!)

Legendary singer Shirley Bassey was also missing despite being on the guest list, presumably also rehearsing her big number for the Bond tribute.

Anna Paquin made a brief appearance but wouldn't stop to talk to us and we got the same treatment from Henry Cavill, the next Superman, who said he "had to dash in". Ho hum.

But everyone else was utterly charming, so good luck to everyone on Sunday. Not long to go now!


British film stars past and present enjoyed the build-up to the Oscars on Sunday at the Great British Film Reception at the British Consul General's residence.

George Lazenby, who starred as Bond in just one film from the franchise - On Her Majesty's Secret Service - put paid to rumours all six Bonds would reunite at the Academy Awards.

Image caption George Lazenby and Jane Seymour are both part of the James Bond story

"I'm not going to be at the Oscars," he told the BBC.

"I don't think they got that close [to reuniting all the Bonds]. I was at the 40th anniversary and (Sean) Connery didn't show up so why would he show up to the 50th? He doesn't need the money. I don't think he could spend the money before he goes."

Skyfall producer Michael G Wilson said getting five Oscar nominations was "very gratifying, it's wonderful to be recognised by your peers".

It's been 47 years since a James Bond film last won an Oscar, when Thunderball won for best special effects. Wilson said he believes the Bond films are "too familiar to be nominated very often", suggesting that Goldfinger or From Russia with Love should have won something.

But he has high hopes for Adele on Sunday, who is up for best song for Skyfall. "She's wonderful, she gave us a wonderful song," he said.

Jane Seymour, who played Bond girl Solitaire in Live and Let Die, said award recognition was not Bond's priority.

"Bond doesn't really need to win an Oscar. It wins at the box office which is an even bigger reward in some ways."

Aside from a tribute to celebrate Bond's 50th anniversary, there will also be a celebration of the musical with performances from Les Miserables, Chicago and Dreamgirls.

Les Miserables producer Cameron Mackintosh said being nominated for an Oscar was "dreaming the dream".


007 fans hoping for a reunion of all the actors who have played Bond over the years are likely to be left disappointed. Rumour has it that it won't be happening, although Shirley Bassey, George Lazenby and Barbara Broccoli are definitely in town. We will have to settle for the Oscars Bond tribute on Sunday and Adele belting out Skyfall.

Image caption The Dolby Theatre is a hive of activity as Hollywood prepares for the Oscars

Meanwhile, the talk in Tinseltown is that Oscars host Seth MacFarlane will be putting on his dancing shoes - tap shoes to be precise - at the end of the ceremony, alongside a major Broadway star.

Hollywood Boulevard continues to prepare for the big day - a huge gold drape hangs over the entrance to the Dolby theatre and set workers are whizzing around in golf buggies just off the red carpet.

But alongside the glamour, the area is much seedier than I thought it would be. Prostitutes tout for business just a few streets away. And the contrast of homeless people sleeping in shop doorways opposite the Dolby couldn't be more stark.


The Oscar Wilde awards were a surreal experience last night.

The ceremony's held in JJ Abrams Bad Robot studios, and we were given free reign of the workspaces on the ground floor as Colin Farrell et al were celebrated on the huge roof terrace.

Image caption JJ Abrams - basically, he's king of the nerds

It's full of random toys, plastic dolls' heads, retro board games, a mask from the Twilight zone... you name it.

We were invited to draw pictures to stick on the walls or write postcards to the troops to boost morale. Old printing presses and sci-fi models were scattered about, as well as several beautiful old typewriters.

And what a place to work! Star Trek memorabilia, a wine fridge, and sweet jars (honest, I only took one).

Abrams opens his studio to the Irish-American event because his wife, Kate McGrath, has Irish connections.

Later, I wandered up to the roof terrace, brushing past Warren Beatty on the way. Apparently, Spielberg was there too somewhere.

It's hard to believe The next Star Wars film is going to be made inside these walls. Wow.


So three days to go until the big night and Hollywood Boulevard is already in lockdown. Many roads are already closed and parts of the pavement - or should I say sidewalk - blocked off.

Some shop shutters are mysteriously still down, adorned with the faces of stars past and present - including our very own Tom Jones.

The Museum of Hollywood is just waking up as a bronze statuette of Marilyn Monroe in the Seven Year Itch is wheeled outside.

And I have a rude awakening when I'm nearly run over by a pine tree tied to a trolley which comes winging its way at some speed out of a hotel lobby as I'm walking past it, just opposite the Dolby Theatre. It is part of the foliage that will be used to decorate the red carpet on Sunday.

It's a sign of the digital age when you have to walk nearly a mile to reach a newsagent to pick up trade papers. The proprietors' tip for big picture is Ben Affleck's Argo and not many at this stage would argue with her.

It's pretty breezy here but Sunday's weather forecast is 70 degrees - not bad for February, even in sunny Los Angeles.


As Hollywood anticipates the biggest night on the showbiz calendar on Sunday, just across the road at the Egyptian Theatre, humour was easing the tension at the annual Toscar Awards.

The awards celebrate parodies of every film nominated for best picture at the Oscars - each five minute entry has to be made over three days on a budget of just $250 (£158).

This year, Miserable Lesbians - based on, you guessed it, Les Miserables - swept the board with eight Toscars including best film, best actress and best director. Best tunes went to Guy Ross and Tamara Douglas-Morris for Skyfell (and I can't get up).

Speaking of 007, celebrity guests at the Toscars included former James Bond George Lazenby and… EastEnders' Sid Owen.