Oscars show gaping gap

Oscars show gaping gap
Director Alejandro Inarritu accepts the Oscar for best picture for his film Birdman during the 87th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday with members of the cast and others.

The 87th Academy Awards, held in Los Angeles Sunday evening local time, took a new twist when a Chinese star failed to make an appearance.

That absence occupied more eyeballs in Chinese cyberspace than any winner or presenter.

Huang Shengyi was supposed to walk down the red carpet with Tom Hanks, with whom she is reportedly making a movie. According to unsubstantiated reports, she fainted at the last minute and was rushed to a hospital.

It was also said that her hotel room had been robbed and her wardrobe stolen, which was apparently unrelated to the fainting.

Other unsubstantiated online reports claimed that all of the above was a mere show staged by Huang - or rather an attempt to upstage the biggest bash of global showbiz.

Unlike Zhang Ziyi or Joan Chen, Huang did not seem to have work-related reasons to be present, but Chinese stars have long used such high-profile appearances to rub some glitter and boost their profiles.

But judging from online feedback, Huang was not getting much sympathy.

Other than that, this year's Oscar party could probably be remembered for snubbing two of Chinese fans' favourite films. No, Transformers: Age of Extinction, China's biggest box-office hit of 2014, was not even counted here.

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar and David Fincher's Gone Girl are both bona fide Oscar contenders, but only in minor categories, with Interstellar winning just one technical award.

If anything, this testifies to the gap between Chinese fans of Hollywood fare and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in their choices of quality work and industry prestige.

Of the two biggest winners, Budapest Hotel has won a legion of admirers in China for its quasi-European mood and meticulous attention to detail.

The fun and layers of meaning of Birdman are largely lost to most Chinese, who did not grow up with Michael Keaton's portrayal of Batman and who are not familiar with Broadway or the dichotomy of Hollywood and New York.

While the one long take amazes cinephiles, it made many a regular filmgoer dizzy and sent them scratch their heads.

Even though only a few of the Oscar-nominated films were imported for the Chinese screen, currently standing at 34 for a year's quota, several have been licensed by Chinese websites for online screening, including the frontrunner Boyhood.

Judging from online responses, many were surprised that Boyhood got only one award, for best supporting actress.

The Golden Globe Awards, where the film won Best Picture in the drama category, was much more intensely watched in China than Hollywood's guild awards, and it's often used for predicting Oscars.

Another surprise was Lady Gaga's performance celebrating The Sound of Music's 50th anniversary. She was "normal", which really shocked many who were expecting another eye-opening hairdo or costume. Still, people were impressed by her singing, according to a sina.com poll.

Chinese who are plugged in to the Hollywood scene also had nice words to say about Neil Patrick Harris' hosting, calling him "hard-working".

Unlike Anne Hathaway or James Franco, who hosted a previous ceremony, Harris does not have much of a following in China, as his TV shows and Broadway work are not widely known in the Middle Kingdom.

Sartorially, Chinese fans picked Cate Blanchett as the best dressed of all the stars, beating out Scarlett Johansson and Nicole Kidman, perennial favorites in China, and Rosamund Pike, who is quickly gaining a fan base on this side of the Pacific.

Many of the Oscar nominees and winners, including Birdman, will be shown publicly at the upcoming Beijing International Film Festival in April.

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