Oscar’s red carpet had a more international weave this year.
While the Americans were still running the show with a German-lite precision and the Italians were still dominating the fashion, major nominees came from Mexico, Australia, Spain, England, Japan and Antarctica, if you count animated penguins.
The nominees were a multi-national group, but they had a few things in common: having the requisite frazzled publicist; and the women all deserve an Oscar for gracefully navigating the red carpet in those treacherous Manolo Blahnik slingbacks.
Most visible among the international nominees were Mexico’s creatives. “Pan’s Labyrinth” helmer Guillermo del Toro said the last time something like this happened to Mexico “we were in the World Cup finals.”
“But it’s also been a good year for genres,” del Toro said. “You have comedy, film noir, fantasy — it was a good year for plurality in general.”
Adriana Barraza, who had a supporting nom for “Babel,” said, “What people in Mexico say to us is ‘we’re harnessing our hopes to you.’ ”
What hasn’t changed on the red carpet is the zoo-like atmosphere. Roaming video crews filming circles around nominees; on-air fashion dissection; and dozens of photogs screaming: “We need the front of the dress! Smile! Turn around! Big smile! Over the shoulder!”
When the photogs were yelling for Jodie Foster to come back for more shots, she pointed to her gown’s long train and said: “This dress does not go in reverse.”
Cate Blanchett described the atmosphere as “gladiatorial. And there’s certainly enough Christians outside with signs.”
Al Gore, who arrived with the “An Inconvenient Truth” filmmakers, seemed calm enough in the melee. “I’m old enough to know a red carpet is just a rug,” the former veep said.
Randy Newman said every time he comes to the Oscars “it’s like being on the moon” in terms oddity. He said the only thing that’s ever come close “is a gig I once played in Slovenia.”
If there was one person who could be pointed to as the architect of increasing the fashion show aspect of the Oscars, it would be Giorgio Armani who said he found the scene “a bit confusing. I don’t feel like a main character here.”
From his viewpoint the Oscar glamour “has become more commercial. There are too many interests behind it.”
Standouts in the nominee fashion department included the women from “Dreamgirls”; Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson both had major moments with the photogs.
And the film generated enough dresses that Viacom topper Sumner Redstone snared a red tassled number worn by character Effie White for his wife Paula Fortunato to wear.
The pic’s director, Bill Condon, said he was most interested in the “Dreamgirls” musical number that was set for the kudocast. “It’s a great way to say goodbye to the movie,” Condon said.
As for the stars of the year’s main Oscar controversy, the three-of-five producer controversy over “Little Miss Sunshine,” there was pre-show harmony.
“If we’re so lucky to win, we’re all coming up on stage,” said producer David T. Friendly, who in that case would be leaving the stage with a statuette.
“It’s just been one improbable triumph to another. From getting it made, to Sundance, to audiences loving the movie. The one thing we’ve learned with this movie is anything is possible,” said producer Albert Berger, who would be watching Friendly leave the stage with a statuette.
When he was asked what he’d learned from his first Oscar nom, “The Departed” producer Graham King said it was “not to expect something.” He said leaving empty-handed two years ago for “The Aviator” was “kind of like falling down.”
Asked if he’d learned anything, Clint Eastwood said, “No, I never learn anything. I try, but I don’t. If I learned anything I’d be home watching television.”