The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Ladies and gentlemen, may we present: THE EXPAT OSCARS! Um…hello? Anyone there?

The Expat Oscars — really? Now that would be an unusual event. What would it look like?

I live in Spain. Oscars are something that are on TV Sunday night. Basically, very late at night. You don’t watch, you just read the news after who won or who lost. — Javier Bardem

Well, for starters the Expat Oscars would be held via Skype. If we had our own version of the Kodak Theatre, it’d be big and posh and empty — ’cause folk from ’round here…ain’t from ’round here! We’re displaced — all over the bloomin’ planet. Which is kind of the point. If we had to collect our awards in person, that ceremony would have a carbon footprint the size of a football stadium.

So we’re streaming live on the Internet. The Red Carpet is a million pixels long and is digitally re-mastered in every country participating. Unfortunately, Jennifer Lopez wouldn’t be invited as she’s never been displaced, only her clothing! Indeed, you won’t want to make a slip-up — or down — as the clip would literally be on YouTube before you knew it.

But if there wouldn’t be any wardrobe malfunctions, we could at least look forward to getting that delicious hang-fire moment when the Skype picture freezes, and then it cuts back in, seconds later, like this:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the winner is…” PIXELATE — jittery jump — lips purse with a hint of spittle and stay like that — and pause — and pause –

Cut back in to rapturous applause, the digital wheeling of spotlights and we’ve got to sit through another five minutes of high-volume celebrating before we finally make out the individual giving an acceptance speech. (That’s if it doesn’t cut out again before we get that far!)

Who would host?

Milla Jovovich, you did a great job hosting the sci-tech awards for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so you’re being promoted — to hosting the entire Expat Oscars shebang! We’d love it if you’d wear that white-sequin, one-shoulder gown you wore for the main event last night — and leave the granny glasses you donned for the sci-techies at home (wherever “home” is!).

From Long Beach to Pacific Palisades? Sorry, Billy Crystal, but that’s not displaced enough. Jovovich is Ukrianian, has lived in Europe and the US, and acted in films in several languages. All of that counts for a lot in our book.

Should Milla request a co-host, it would have to be either Keanu Reeves (he was born in Beirut, a third culture kid!) — or why not go for the daddy of successful expat movie stars, the man who redefined the phrase “I came, I saw, I conquered”: Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself!

No? Well, it’s either him or Borat. With his penchant for embodying other nationalities rather too literally, Sacha Baron Cohen belongs more with our tribe than with the Academy’s. At the Expat Oscars he will be free to attend in his dictator’s uniform without having to get special clearance and can “ash” anyone he likes in the name of terrorizing fashion — the mess will only be virtual.

We’re talking a looooong ceremony

Besides, his antics might keep people awake. The Expat Oscars will have to be a long, LONG show — either that or we’d insist that everyone stay awake all night, and it would be 4 a.m. for someone.

Listen, you think it’s bad at the real Academy Awards sitting on the edge of your auditorium seat for several of hours, sipping champagne while you wait for your category to be announced — what if it’s being announced by someone eight time-zones away?

Charlize Theron*: “Ladies and Gentlemen, here to accept this prestigious award, please welcome Mr. Sung, live by satellite from Hong Kong! Please excuse the penguin pyjamas. And the fact that he’s drunk eight vodka-Red-bulls just trying to keep himself awake…”
Mr. Sung: “Fangssshhhverymussssh…hic!”
*With her South African pedigree, Charlize more than qualifies for the role of Expat Oscar presenter.

Best Foreign Language Film — is that second or third?

Our next category is for Best Film in a Foreign Language…but wait a minute! That’s not a foreign language! That’s my language! Ah…

So could we have Best Film in a Second Language perhaps? But would that category also include people who’ve made a film in their third language — or should they get their own category? And so on.

How about “Film in a Language So Obscure Even the Director Has No Idea What’s Going On”?

No politics/fashion, please, we’re expats

What a thrill. You know you’ve entered new territory when you realize that your outfit cost more than your film. – Jessica Yu, Academy Award Winner 1997 for Documentary Short Subject*
*Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brian, about a person with a breathing disability.

The traditional Hollywood bash is often clouded by politics not to mention gossip and verdicts on the gowns of the nominated actresses.

It wouldn’t be like that for us. The Expat Awards would be about the films.

Because we just don’t get each other’s governmental strife — we haven’t got time for sorting it all out.

For instance, I’m sure there’s plenty of fascinating developments in the politics of Milla’s Ukraine (they’re a Presidential Representative Democratic Republic, don’t you know!) — but to be honest, I don’t think that would figure in anyone’s acceptance speech.

How could it? I don’t even know what a PRDR is — do you?

And the fashion would be a bit more varied than in Hollywood. We’d have people walking down the Virtual Red Carpet in burkas, galabiyas — or board shorts and “thongs” for the Aussie nominees! And there’s bound to be a few unwashed backpacker types trying to get away with khakis and a vest…and not shaving. Okay, so that’s me.

And my speech — probably on accepting the World’s Most Ridiculous Person Award?

Tony: “I’d like to thank my Mum…”
Milla: “Well actually, we have your Mum on the phone right now! She’s asking where you are, and why you haven’t called her in the last six months…”
Tony: “I’d like to thank the Academy…and ask them to keep her talking long enough for me to get to a taxi.”

* * *

What else would go wrong with a displaced film award ceremony? Would the statuette be a little gold Buddha? Or a waving cat? Or a mermaid from “Here be dragons”? What would the categories be? And who would win?

Please share your craziest thoughts in the comments!

You could win…hmm, let’s see: the respect of the international film community?

Nah. Not even the real Oscars have that… :)

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s review of A Separation, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, by expat author Matt Krause. Krause’s book, A Tight Wide-open Space: Finding love in a Muslim land, was featured on our site this month.

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5 responses to “Ladies and gentlemen, may we present: THE EXPAT OSCARS! Um…hello? Anyone there?

  1. linda@adventuresinexpatland.com February 28, 2012 at 4:31 am

    I enjoyed this, TJ. You’ve captured the pomp and pomposity of the Oscars brilliantly. What I would look forward to the most would be the jockeying among expat contingents in different countries to host the all-important after-Oscars party. The hottest ticket in Tinsel Town, It was hosted for years by uber-agent Swifty Lazar, and now is hosted by Vanity Fair magazine. Would hosting duties go to the Asian contingent, or perhaps the South Americans or African delegation? Don’t rule out the Europeans or North Americans, and put even money on the Oceanics!

    • Tony James Slater February 28, 2012 at 10:47 pm

      Ha ha! Yes, and ideally the after party would be held somewhere with a minimal chance of the Oscar winners being kidnapped and shot…
      I hear Burma is quite nice this time of year? :0)
      It’d be like the farce that is the Eurovision Song Contest – part of the reason the entries are always so dire, is that the wining country has to host the following year’s event – at huge cost, for very little reward or recognition! So, yeah, I can understand why they all seem to think it’s a great time to let their country’s least popular artists out of the bag…

  2. ML Awanohara February 28, 2012 at 10:25 am

    @TJS
    I have three quick responses:

    1) The quality of films being foisted on us should go up once Hollywood is no longer the center of the film world and the Oscars, truly international (see this Gawker round-up of the most humorous film reviews from Netflix of this year’s best picture nominees).

    2) The current Oscars should adopt some of your suggestions, since expats are already such a big part in the film world. I especially like the one about people directing films in their second and third languages. Take Albert Nobbs, for instance: a film about a woman who has to act like a man in order to get work in the harsh environment of 19th-century Ireland. It was directed by Rodrigo García, the son of the son of Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez — Irish must be his third language at least!

    3) The Displaced Nation would definitely be lobbying for an Expat Oscars statuette that resembles a mermaid. The artwork for our banner is based on those medieval maps that depicted serpents, dragons and other mythological creatures in uncharted areas. And what, after all, is film-making but a tool to explore uncharted areas of human existence more fully?

    • Tony James Slater February 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm

      Well, there’s plenty of dragons in film-making! And yes, I’m talking about the Hollywood studio execs…
      I guess there’s be a growing number of people directing films in a second language at least – pretty much anyone outside of the English speaking world who makes something in English to draw attention from the US markets – could be quite a big category!
      Can’t be to many people making a film in their third language though… the short list for nomination would just be the list of everyone who entered!

  3. Gillian Robinson February 29, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Maybe include this category: “Film Containing The Most Spoken Languages”. Bearing in mind the sheer number of fictional languages in fantasy/sci-fi film these days, I think there would be some serious contenders from that genre! George Lucas re-worked 3 african languages and a tibetan dialect into the original Star Wars films, and employed various foreign exchange students to voice them so that they would sound authentic. Obviously he was beaten by Mr Tolkien, who simply invented entire languages from scratch, some of which made it into the film adaptations.

    Finally, a follow on Oscar category of “Best Actor/Actress Speaking A Fictional Language”. It much be a real test of professionalism to keep a straight face when talking total bollocks. Why do you think actors like to go into politics?

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