February 24th, 2015


Former Foreign Secretaries For Hire

Some politicians are principled- lets be clear about this- but I never thought Jack Straw was one of them. Malcom Rifkind, I must confess, I had forgotten all about.

It's good for the health of our parliamentary democracy that every so often one or two policy makers should be dragged out of their gothic monkey house and shot. I can't say it keeps the others honest, because the scandals never stop coming- but I imagine it prevents the corruption from getting entirely out of hand.

Best Picture

Birdman is a pretty good movie- and technically brilliant. I don't know how history will view it, but- as I'm not the first to point out- you can hardly expect a bunch of showpeople not to favour a film about actors. The film I'd have wanted to vote for- Under The Skin- wasn't even in the running.

The full list of winners and nominees from 1929 to the present day is here. It's an interesting- and slightly depressing- record of changing taste. Some years the Academy was overawed by spectacle, other years it flaunted its social conscience. Rather too often it ignored masterpieces and rewarded effortful striving.  Its routine neglect of foreign language movies- and snobbishness about genre- means the list is a lousy guide to the history of cinema.

The Oscars are a popularity contest. We really shouldn't take them so seriously.