My third Oscar wish is for a good show (the first and second wishes here). A good show that takes us by surprise, perhaps gasp as the winner is announced. As much as we like to know, or think we know, who will win, it is still refreshing when the name read out is not what we expected. If Julianne Moore does not win Best Actress tonight, without any disrespect to the other excellent nominees, I am not sure that will be greeted with as much glee as that which I am trying to convey. I got over it, but I was sure Jennifer Hudson would win for Almost Famous, but Marcia Gay Harden came from nowhere. But however you feel about the Shakespeare In Love dominance, the Judi Dench (1999) win was one of the sweetest and warmly greeted little bombshells the Academy have given us. Her sheer surprise as her name was called out was lovely, and Dench was both humble and graceful in her acceptance.
With previous winners Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day Lewis being the favorites and locking horns in the Best Actor race, it was new kid on the block Adrien Brody (2003) that took the prize. His reaction, that of his fellow nominees, and the rest of the audience was pure gold. I suspect the majority of viewers were on board too. But this was such a popular win, both for him, the movie The Pianist, and the absent director Roman Polanski. Brody delivers one of more memorable and moving speeches of recent years, with his honest gratitude and reassuring words with regard to a resolution of the war in Iraq.
Bradley Cooper would certainly be a win not many people can say they saw coming for American Sniper. Even if he has been nominated for the third successive time. Likewise, then, for the Russell Crowe (2001) win, sandwiched between nominations for The Insider and A Beautiful Mind. What I love about his Best Actor Oscar win for Gladiator is that his hard man reputation is thrown out of the window as soon as Hilary Swank announces him as winner. I mean, look, this guy was trembling, and barely keeps to his feet as he is bombarded with congratulations. Crowe’s bemused gesture as he gets to the stage and takes his award, is as delightful and real as his kind words that follow. More of this please.