Mike Leigh on Hollywood, Mickey and losing an Oscar

Posted by · 2:46 am · February 26th, 2009

Mike LeighIf, like yours truly, you’re one of those who believe that British auteur Mike Leigh was robbed on Sunday night, you’ll thoroughly enjoy his Oscar diary. Ever the Hollywood outsider, Leigh attended the Academy Awards with his two adult sons as his guests, and he reflects on the ensuing madness with all the droll, dry humour present in so many of his films.

As you would expect, he’s not all that bothered about losing the Original Screenplay award for “Happy-Go-Lucky,” not least because he learned shortly before the ceremony that the bookies had him as a 54-1 outsider. (He mordantly notes that his son Toby then placed £20 on him, “just in case.”) In any case, he professes to liking “Milk” a great deal, and rather enjoyed the ceremony as a whole, describing it with typical British reserve as “far less tacky and schmaltzy than usual.” What I really liked, however, is his candour on the awards themselves:

The truth is, you only get the loser’s hump about the winners if you think that they’re crap, and tonight I get a real buzz out of nearly all the awards. Chuffed for jolly Michael O’Connor (best costumes, The Duchess), who assisted Lindy Hemming on Topsy-Turvy, and delighted that Benjamin Button got only technical awards!

Wanted Mickey Rourke to win best actor (I voted for him) and, no disrespect to Kate and the other girls, I desperately miss Sally (Hawkins). I genuinely can’t see how any of their performances are as original, creative, profound, witty or versatile as hers. But there you go.

Sure, most directors would probably say that about their leading ladies, but in this case, he happens to be right. I’m also interested to hear that he’s on Team Rourke — I recall sitting behind Leigh at “The Wrestler’s” first London screening back in October and observing his evident enthusiasm for the film then.

Finally, Leigh adds how thrilled he is for everyone associated with “Slumdog Millionaire,” which of course shares a production company, Film4 Productions, with “Happy-Go-Lucky.” (Film4, by the way, is for my money the great unsung hero of 2008 cinema, with a slate that also included “Hunger” and “In Bruges.” What a year.)

Anyway, read the rest here — it’s great stuff. Much as I enjoy Leigh’s self-imposed distance from the hysteria of awards, however, I would love to read his reflections on winning an Oscar one of these days. Next time, Academy.

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19 responses so far

  • 1 2-26-2009 at 3:28 am

    George said...

    Please for the love of God let’s not compare on hit wonder Sally with Kate…

  • 2 2-26-2009 at 3:50 am

    Will said...

    How do you know that Hawkins is a ”on hit wonder”? Have you seen anything, but ”Happy-Go-Lucky?” Hawkins is a very promising actress who should’ve been nominated at least.

  • 3 2-26-2009 at 4:01 am

    Jim said...

    It was iteresting and he seems nice and down-to-Earth but why did he feel the eed to remind us of his win in the NYFC awards?

    By the way, Guy are you English? I’ve wondered for a long time. (For some reason, because of the name, I thought you were French)

  • 4 2-26-2009 at 5:48 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    One hit wonder? Hardly. Hawkins has been a promising talent on the British scene for a few years now. She was absolutely terrific in the BBC adaptations of “Persuasion” and “Fingersmith,” and anyone who saw her in “Layer Cake” back in 2004 knew she had film-stealing skills. We’re going to be hearing a lot more about her, believe me.

    In any case, Leigh is comparing performances, not actresses, and I agree with him that Hawkins’ work in “Happy-Go-Lucky” far outstrips that of any of the other nominees. Each to their own, of course.

    Jim: French? I should be so lucky. In terms of blood, I’m half-British, half-Dutch, but I was born and largely raised in South Africa and currently live in Britain. It’s complicated!

  • 5 2-26-2009 at 6:30 am

    Pauley said...

    She was amazing, and deserved a nomination, but not the win. Definitely not the win, she would have been 5th had she been nominated in place of Angelina Jolie

  • 6 2-26-2009 at 7:45 am

    dГ©bora said...

    I agree with Pauley. Nomination but nothing further.

  • 7 2-26-2009 at 8:21 am

    McAllister said...

    Sally Hawkins should have gotten in over Anne Hathaway and should have been battling it out with Melissa Leo for the win. Oh, if only.

  • 8 2-26-2009 at 11:24 am

    Rob said...

    I don’t think he was robbed at all. Sally Hawkins probably was, but as a Hollywood outsider its always a little tougher to get that first nomination.

    You want robbed, try Topsy Turvy in 1999. That was certainly the best original screenplay of that year, and Jim Broadbent was my pick as best actor.

  • 9 2-26-2009 at 11:57 am

    KB said...

    Good Lord Tapley, let it go. Penn won and he deserved to win. Next please…..

  • 10 2-26-2009 at 12:05 pm

    Matthew said...

    I saw Persuasion a little while ago, and was amazed by Hawkins yet again. As a side note, those new Austen adaptations (BBC’s Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and to a lesser degree ITV’s Northanger Abbey) are fantastic.

  • 11 2-26-2009 at 4:31 pm

    Brad said...

    Mickey Rourke gave the best performance of all twenty acting nominess.

  • 12 2-26-2009 at 7:04 pm

    Princess of Peace said...

    I agree with you Brad!

  • 13 2-26-2009 at 7:50 pm

    Speaking English said...

    … after Sean Penn and Heath Ledger, sure.

  • 14 2-26-2009 at 8:35 pm

    KB said...

    Right on English!

  • 15 2-26-2009 at 11:02 pm

    Glenn said...

    She was the best thing about Woody Allen’s “Cassandra’s Dream” too, fwiw.

  • 16 2-27-2009 at 2:41 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    True, Glenn.

    KB: That’s my name on the byline, not Kris’s. I’m not harping about Penn’s win, just thought it was interesting to hear someone else’s opinion.

  • 17 2-27-2009 at 7:58 am

    KB said...

    Oops. Just kidding.

  • 18 2-27-2009 at 1:32 pm

    Marvin said...

    I can’t wait for his movie to come out on DVD. I have a feeling I might just love it.