Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hollywood Boulevard: Ama Jo Budge on-the-street pre-Oscars 2011

I took to the streets this afternoon to inhale the pre-2011 Academy Awards Hollywood buzz. The road in front of Hollywood Boulevard is already blocked off with scaffolding, patrolled by security guards, and watched over by the towering canvas Oscars Award itself. The cramped corridors between the blockade and the shop walls becomes crammed with tourists, film-buffs, and locals alike, the usual touristy excitement heightened as people tramp up and down the (plastic covered) red carpet

I meet and talk to not only locals and Easterners but also some girls from Switzerland, a couple from Sweden and Norway, and a Dutch woman (the Scandinavians out in numbers)! I ask them whether they will be here on Sunday night or at home watching the Oscars, most say yes (apart from the occasional oblivious local). The general opinion is that best film will be a toss up between Black Swan and The Kings Speech (which took the British Academy Film Award for best film in the UK earlier this month) with which I agree, although there were a few batters on The Fighter’s team too.

A knowledgeable local showing around his New York friend gets into great detail, saying that The Kings Speech will undoubtedly take Best Film, although True Grit will be ‘the dark horse’. He predicts Colin Firth for best actor, Christian Bale for best supporting actor, and to my surprise names a pregnant Natalie Portman as the stunner he will be looking out for – “her talent makes her even more attractive” I am blown away, I must admit (they don’t think like that where I come from – and we’re supposed to be the gentlemen!) 

(Hollywood Blvd last week, and now...)

Some of the younger generation remind me (somewhat to my embarrassment) that Justin Timberlake does of course appear in The Social Network and will therefore be the hottie they are looking out for, with James Franco (127 Hoursbrining up a slightly more mature fan base.

Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie still take the cake for hottest celebs however, what a shame The Tourist was such a let down, I guess there is such a thing as too much gorgeousness on one set...

I meet some photographers from Portland, Oregon who will be working the red carpet on Sunday. They are all together unimpressed with the celebrity-hunger that surrounds them, refusing to pronounce any star-struckness other than a ones grudging confession that Sigourney Weaver said ‘hi’ to him last year “which was pretty cool”.

(Yes these were totally for my 8 yr old brother - if you can't beat em join em!)

I am undaunted, and soon meet a group of three (what I would call ‘lads’) from San Francisco who amusingly bicker over whether Scarlet Johansson, Angelina Jolie, or Natalie Portman deserve their most attractive vote. The discussion comes to the satisfying conclusion when one loudly concludes that regardless he would "definitely go gay for George Clooney…" To which I could think of no reply other than maybe (who wouldn't?)

Back to the professional stuff, they tipped Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) for best supporting actress and gave the first (and only) vote for The Kids Are Alright stating that Hollywood was sure to give the ‘lesbian nod’. I did not get into the discussion that I have had with many others about whether or not this film actually discusses or appropriately deals with Annette Benning and Julianne Moore’s characters sexuality at all, let alone the fact that Hollywood is not known for giving 'nods' of any kind to my knowledge.

There seems to be an overall feeling that Natalie Portman (Black Swan) deserves Best Actress despite previous loyalties for the consistent talent of (Rabbit Hole) Nicole Kidman (I will certainly always hold Annette Benning in a special place of high reverence in my heart) but Portman's got my money too…


I get stopped by a young woman reporting for a Boston TV show and do not hesitate to stop and have a bit of a chat about the Oscars on camera, and give a shout out for the blog of course.

My favourite comment of the afternoon/evening may be a Swedish young woman claiming, when asked who she would be most excited to see in Hollywood this week – “I want to see John Travolta!”

The tension is certainly building in Hollywood, stay-tuned folks, I have a feeling we could all be surprised, come Sunday night…

Ama J. Budge
Special Correspondent

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