Monday, 10 March 2008

Marion Cotillard

Somewhat more surprising than Day-Lewis’ Oscar victory was the award given to Marion Cotillard. It’s very rare that a foreign language film is recognized by the Academy within a main category, let alone a member of the film’s cast.

French biopic La Vie en Rose tells the story of ‘the Little Sparrow’, Edith Piaf, from her humble beginnings in the 1920’s. She was moved from pillar to post during her childhood as the daughter of an alcoholic street singer and a circus performer, until some good fortune comes her way.

When she is spotted singing on the street at the age of 20 her life changes dramatically and she becomes not just a famous singer, but also a national icon. Cotillard plays every age of the singer’s life, culminating in her famous rendition of signature song ‘Non, je ne regrette rien.’

She wasn’t only a success in the film but also on the red carpet, as her full-length gown made by Jean Paul Gualtier wowed critics and fans alike.

When giving her acceptance speech she was both tearful and glowing with joy, while still managing to acknowledge the Academy in classic French style.

She said: “Thank you love, thank you life. It is true there are some angels in this city.”

Daniel Day-Lewis

When the award for Best Actor was announced at this years Oscars ceremony it was met with little shock or even any attempts to feign surprise from the audience. Daniel Day-Lewis had been touted as the favourite to win by critics and bookmakers since the nominations were announced, and so it proved to be true.

His portrayal of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview in Best Picture nominated film There Will Be Blood was the driving force behind a story about family, greed, religion and oil during the turn-of-the-century. It was this forceful and emotionally draining performance that made his win incredibly predictable, yet welcomed by all.

It isn’t his first win in the category, having collected the award for his performance in My Left Foot in 1990. Since then he has also been nominated for In the Name of the Father (1994) and Gangs of New York (2003).

He collected the award from last year’s Best Actress winner, Dame Helen Mirren, who memorably won the Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. On entering the stage he knelt before her while she pretended to knight him with the statuette. “That’s the closest I’ll ever come to a knighthood,” he said.

On accepting the award the famously reclusive and shy star gave his “deepest thanks” to the Academy for “whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town”.

The Coen Brothers

The 2008 Academy Awards was an unprecedented recognition of European acting talent which saw not even a single American actor or actress named amongst the winners.

However, it was the Coen brothers who saved the day for American filmmaking, scooping both Best Picture and Best Direction awards for No Country For Old Men. The pair, Joel and Ethan Coen, had previously received Oscar winning notoriety for Fargo back in 1996.

No Country For Old Men is a novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy, which was rewritten for film by the Coens, who also picked up the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Joel Coen paid tribute to the writer during his speech, placing him in the esteemed company of Homer.

“I think whatever success we've had in this area has been entirely attributable to how selective we are. We've only adapted Homer and Cormac McCarthy,” he said.

Best Supporting Actor Javier Bardem was quick to attribute his success to the work of the directing duo, as he mocked his character’s haircut in the film.

“Thank you to the Coens for being crazy enough to think that I could do that and put one of the most horrible haircuts in history over my head,” he said.