While dutifully flagging the stream of celebrity flight to the Maldives, questions pricked our mind: while India groans under the sick and the dying, is it decent for public figures to traipse off for holidays? Is it even proper to boastfully demonstrate it on social media? Or even, what strings were pulled to get visas? As if echoing our thoughts, who has opened up about the holidaymakers but Nawazuddin Siddiqui, one of our best actors. “People don’t have food and you’re wasting money; have some shame…please don’t taunt those who are suffering,” fumed Nawaz in an interview. The preponderance of photos he attributes to the inner vacuity of the subjects, “What else will they talk about,” hissed Nawaz, his blood up. “Acting? They will run out of steam in two minutes.” Bull’s eye, Nawaz.
The Oscars ceremony this year was shorn of the ostentation at the Dolby Theatre—the gleaming, grand stage, the tiered wave of applause and the delicately-lit massed ranks of tuxedos and gowns. But the venue chosen did not lack in grandeur: LA’s Union Station, a towered Art Deco masterpiece, with a clean, spacious, high-vaulted interior, built at a time when rail stations were a fit subject for architectural splendour. The winners and nominees were the most racially diverse ever, while top movies were united in their handling of themes sober, solemn, grim and saturated in conflict. The Best Picture was Nomadland—a hauntingly beautiful paean to the loss of one American dream, the call of the road and the aftertones of grief. Chloe Zhao won Best Director for it and Frances McDormand won Best Actress for her unsentimental, unforgettable portrayal of a maverick. Anthony Hopkins, that grizzled veteran, won Best Actor for The Father, and plays the eponymous Anthony, a dementia patient, with uncommon brio: bluff bravado in one scene, heartwrenching vulnerability in another. A similar performance was seen in Daniel Kaluuya’s impersonation of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas And The Black Messiah—his heavy-lidded Hampton soars into powerful peroration, then swoops into the darkest depths of reflection. His was a Best Supporting Actor effort. Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung won Best Supporting Actress for her quirkily funny grandmother in Minari, about an immigrant Korean family in ‘80s US. The cinematography Oscar went to the luscious black/white imageryof Erik Messerschmidt for Mank—a biographical tribute to the man who co-wrote the screenplay of Citizen Kane (1941) with Orson Welles, Herman Mankiewicz. And pals, one of the greatest movies of all time won just one Oscar: Best Screenplay.
A crowd of glitter was avoided at the Oscars, but the perfumed rustle of gowns and the celestial bodies who carry them did mount the red carpet (glory be!). For our purposes, we select two stars whose sartorial choice closely reflected their Oscar-worthy roles. British actress Carey Mulligan has been known for her demure, subdued style in her previous awards outings. This year, her metallic gold Valentino ensemble quickened heartbeats—the billowing skirt and the bandeau top spoke of her tough act in Promising Young Woman, about a girl who nurses a tragedy, then sacrifices herself in a startling act of revenge. Our other notable, Amanda Seyfried, had a simpler choice, Harking back to Golden Hollywood, which she inhabits (in Mank) and embodies (in the persona of actress Marion Davies). Her bold, red gown breathes power, privilege and sex appeal. Do the bust ruffles look strange? Stranger things went on in movietown 80 years ago.