By Amanda Mundin
Ritz Cinema, Belper
On Sunday, March 2, the great and the good of the film industry will gather at the Kodak theatre for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. The OSCARS, as they are more widely referred to, are the career pinnacle for actors, directors, make-up artists, script-writers, sound engineers and cinematographers to name just a few who make up the wonderful world of film. The race to win the coveted award begins way before we’re even aware of the films, producers know very early on when a film has ‘OSCAR potential’. Not wanting to sound too cynical but generally the Academy likes to see people suffer – Chiwetel Ejiofor probably has a fairly good chance this year! Winning an OSCAR not only carries the prestige, it also increases the bank balance somewhat. A Best Picture accolade can result in a massive boost to distribution sales – just look at Argo last year, a film warmly but gently received, it gets an OSCAR and we’re queuing around the block. Sometimes, we do go into overload and the winning pictures can become a bit of a yawn – I shouldn’t mention Titanic at this point, it really does tend to rock the boat these days (didn’t stop me sitting wide eyed on the front row for the fourth time at it’s 15th anniversary screening in 2012!) Sometimes we look back and wonder what on earth the Academy were thinking – Ordinary People not Raging Bull? How Green was my Valley not Citizen Kane? Crash not Brokeback Mountain? The list could go on. To this year’s contenders then… we have all the Best Picture nominees this month at The Ritz except one but I’m sure you’ve all seen Captain Philips by now! If you want to make up your own mind and join in with the OSCAR buzz, catch them while you can: American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave, & The Wolf of Wall Street – they’re all on a big screen near you. My personal favourites this year are American Hustle & The Wolf of Wall Street. I know they might not be to everyone’s taste but for all-round accomplished filmmaking they are both astounding. Now in the best tradition of the OSCARS, we should remember some of the actors who are no longer with us. Philip Seymour Hoffman & James Gandolfini, surely irreplaceable in style & presence and the Hollywood gals from the golden era who lit up the screen and inspired many to follow - Deanna Durbin, 91, Esther Williams, 91, Shirley Temple, 85, Joan Fontaine, 96. Finally, the greatest of them all, Peter O’Toole, nominated for eight Academy Awards, his best performance undoubtedly as David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. With more nominations without winning than any other actor, when given a lifetime achievement honorary OSCAR, he said he wasn’t past it yet and still wanted to “win the lovely bugger outright”!