Aside from the Oscar arrivals being the Indy 500 of haute couture, it’s the amazing range of humanity coming down the red carpet that impresses onlookers.
Are there other events where the likes of the venerable U Pyinar Zawta, there with the “Burma VJ” docu team and wearing the saffron robes of a senior Buddhist monk, is followed not long after by Jennifer Lopez, wearing the fantastically long dress of a screen diva?
“I know you should never wear a train this long,” said Lopez, “but it never stops me.”
The spectrum ranged from the relatively quiet “Wallace & Gromit” creator Nick Park, nommed in the animated short category, saying “after years in a darkened room moving puppets, it’s nice to get out” to Quentin Tarantino, who gets out plenty, saying “there’s been a lot of games and now we’re at the Super Bowl.”
It was, of course, an international evening, but uniquely so with George Clooney, accompanied by a stunningly gorgeous woman who reacted with mute surprise when she was asked questions. It turned out she only spoke Italian. And when she did speak, the only word the press understood was “bellissima,” which turned out to be enough.
As for the other glamorous attendees, actress Jenifer Lewis, who voiced Mama Odie in “The Princess and the Frog,” said, “I’m a star and I’m starstruck.” She paused, then added, “Actually I’m not that much of a star, but I am cute.”
Oren Moverman, who directed and co-wrote “The Messenger,” said that what impressed him most about the arrivals was the security. “This is not the White House,” he quipped. “It’s tough to get in.”
The arrivals are mostly about fashion (films are mentioned only in passing) and Miley Cyrus, who was done up to the max, made no apologies. “It’s your special day and you should wear something special,” she said.
On the other hand, Jake Gyllenhaal said, “After watching my sister get ready. It’s a privilege to wear a tuxedo.”
Details are noticed, though. Just as she was about to be interviewed live on British TV, Mariah Carey took a cellphone call from her publicist, who was watching the arrivals at home. Asked what the relatively lengthy conversation was about, Carey, who was wearing a gown with a radical slit, said, “She said she liked the shot of the leg.”
Bill Mechanic stopped by to say that what he learned from co-producing the show was “the idea that this is live is insane. There’s no fixing.” He declined to provide a estimate on the show’s length.
A minute later, AMPAS prexy Tom Sherak came by and put his estimate at 3 hours and 18 minutes. But, he added, “It depends on the standing ovations.”
Offering one of the more realistic views on the day’s extravagance was “Up in the Air” co-screenwriter Sheldon Turner, who said, “The way to deal with the pomp is to have a healthy amount of modesty. And the industry has a way of reminding screenwriters of how much modesty they should have.”
Making his first visit to the Oscars was Ed Asner, who said, “Why come if you’re not invited?”
And making what might have been his final visit was outgoing MPAA topper Dan Glickman, who said, “This might be the last time in this job, but I might come back as an actor.” (He’s actually becoming the prexy of Refugees International.)
Perhaps the most serious talk on the red carpet came from Richard O’Barry, a dolphin activist featured in the nominated docu “The Cove.”
“The Oscars are the most popular TV show in Japan,” said O’Barry. “If a film about the largest dolphin slaughter in the world wins, there’s no way the government will be able to block it from being seen.”
And, as the voice of experience, there was James Cameron, who said when he got to the red carpet that he suddenly remembered a thought he had in 1998 when “Titanic” dominated the evening: “It’s almost more trouble when you win.”