On The Carpet

It’s red carpet season in London. Celebrities, also known as movie stars, dress designerly and walk along the red carpet to answer endless and inane questions about their movies and their co-stars and their spouses and partners and directors and friends and why they think their movies should win awards and what their movies mean and if they seek enlightenment through the art form they support and who dressed them.

Film premieres take place all year round in London, and this week has also seen a swathe of awards ceremonies in the capital. On Sunday night, London played host to the Bafta Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and last night the music awards ceremony, the Brit Awards 2011, took place at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich.

As was expected, The King’s Speech garnered most of the big Bafta awards, including best actor, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, best film and best original screenplay. It was nominated for 14 awards and won seven. The darling Colin Firth, who won the best actor award for the second year in a row (in 2010 he won one for A Single Man), said “I like coming here.”

The director, producer and screenwriter describe the film as “a little film”, one they never thought would attract the worldwide attention it has. David Seidler, writer of the original screenplay for The King’s Speech, won a Bafta for his screenplay. As a child, Seidler battled with a stammer and, listening to King George VI speak on radio, he thought that if the King could overcome a stammer, there was hope for him too. I like stories like that.

Last night’s Brit Awards 2011 honoured many young and not so young members of the music industry. A young south London rapper, known as Tinie Tempah, won two Brits, while Take That – recently rejoined by Robbie Williams – collected their first Brit Award for Best British Group. Robbie walked away with his 17th.

A young fringe-flicking Canadian received a Brit Award for International Breakthrough Act of the Year. He declined to show off his Michael Jackson skills in the pre-show interview, claiming that he couldn’t moonwalk “on the carpet”.  The moves had to be seen to bieber-lieved.

Canadian band, Arcade Fire, also walked away with two Brit Awards for Best International Group and Best International Album.

We’ve stood by the red carpet for film premieres a few times since we’ve been in London. The first time we were lucky enough to be penned in, up close and personal, with uninterrupted views of this:

The less glamorous view of the red carpet

Imagine being close enough to see the red carpet being fitted? Kind of takes the glamour out of the event. A couple standing near us asked if they could have the carpet off-cuts. Seriously?

Knee pads are clearly a health and safety requirement

But this is really why we stood and watched the red carpet being set up:

The man of the moment. Or as I like to call him "The Georgeous"

I think the guy standing behind the star of “The Fantastic Mr Fox” was thinking, “OMG! I can’t believe I’m standing this close to George Clooney!”

We also saw Sir Ben Kingsley:

Ever the elegant and serene professional. He pretended not to hear the guy next to me call him a "sexy beast".

And Bill Murray:

Henna'd hands reach out for his autograph but Mr Murray was only there to shake hands.

As we speak, London is ordering miles more red carpet to welcome the sporting elite and the spectating elite (you clearly have to be elite to afford the ticket prices I’m reading about) to the London Olympics in 2012. 527 days to go and counting. Danny Boyle, director of movies such as Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, Sunshine (I don’t know that movie but I love the title!) and 127 Days, will be directing the opening ceremony. Will we see a field full of brightly coloured anoraks doing Bollywood moves and avoiding the chasm? I can hardly wait.

Sunshine signing off for today!

Two Ends of the Golden Globes

I haven’t quite settled on what I think about Ricky Gervais’ performance of hosting the Golden Globe Awards ceremony on Sunday night. He was typically Ricky. That is: offensive, irreverent, scathing, merciless, relentless, multi-judgmental and over the top. And incredibly funny.

I can’t work out if David Brent is Ricky Gervais’ alter ego, or the other way round. Either way, he steps in and out of both personas with ease. Watching the clips of him, I winced and cringed and sighed and hid my face in my hands. And I laughed. Hard. At times I wondered if I should be laughing. Was my laughter offending anyone? You know what? I think that’s exactly what Ricky Gervais wanted.

He knew exactly what he was doing. He took risks, he knew exactly what kind of reaction he’d get and I think he’s made a huge success of it. He got as much media coverage as the winning performers and, if popular culture is to be believed, any publicity is good publicity. The kind of comedian he is, he probably thought this would be his last shot at the Golden Globes anyway, so why not live dangerously? In all the reports I read ahead of the ceremony, he had stated categorically that he wasn’t going to be reined in and he wanted carte blanche in terms of material. Check. He got that, and then some.

I don’t think anything has changed in the Ricky Gervais camp this week. He’s always been a Marmite kind of guy, as they say over here in the UK: either you love him or you hate him. His performance on Sunday cemented that. Die-hards will continue to love him. Haters will continue to hate him. As for me, I love Marmite but sometimes, if I’ve spread it too thickly on my toast, it makes me choke.

Love him or hate him, Ricky’s in-your-face performance didn’t detract from the highlight of the evening for me: the best actor award. It went to the darling, charming, well-loved and self-effacing British actor, Colin Firth. Mr Gervais’ polar opposite. The awardee’s performance in The King’s Speech was exquisite. We saw the film yesterday.

We went to our favourite area of London – Greenwich – to the Greenwich Picture House, to watch the movie. Don’t you love that it’s called a Picture House? Given that it was a weekday afternoon, the cinema was filled with elderly pensioners and my husband and I brought the average age down significantly. We enjoyed the nostalgic experience of feeling like bothersome youths!

I knew I was going to love The King’s Speech; I cried when I watched the trailer a month ago. A minute into the movie and the tears were rolling down my face! That’s not usually my acid test for movies, but this one is moving beyond words. The central theme is the relationship between the man who becomes King George VI and his speech therapist, one Australian, Lionel Logue. Lionel recognises the King’s pain and his value as a human being and, in so doing, becomes his first friend.

I won’t go into detail about the movie because I hope that you all will go and see it and see what a worthy Golden Globe recipient Mr Firth is. Geoffrey Rush‘s performance is outstanding too. My hope is that they’ll both be nominated for Oscars and win. The movie is poignant, agonising, heartbreaking and extraordinarily triumphant.

Mr Gervais and Mr Firth. Two Englishmen. Two perspectives. Globes apart.

Sunshine signing off for today!