2008-02-24 18:49:48 China Daily
Oscar statues on the red carpet remain under plastic wrap while the rain falls outside the Kodak Theater in the morning of the 80th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, CA., on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008. (Photo: China Daily/Agencies)
BEIJING, Feb. 25 -- Even buckets of rain couldn't put a serious damper on Hollywood's glitziest show of the year.
As rain fell throughout much of the day, thousands of fans packed the bleachers and streets around the Kodak Theatre, hoping to catch a glimpse of Hollywood's biggest stars as they arrived for Sunday's 80th annual Academy Awards.
The rain, often heavy, arrived hours before the stars did, drenching fans on Hollywood Boulevard. But the red carpet remained dry under a hastily erected tent, as did the bleachers where people lucky enough to win tickets by lottery sat waiting to cheer on their favorite stars.
Hours before the show only one celebrity -- TV star Regis Philbin -- had arrived. But most people outside were thrilled just to be there.
"The thought of being able to see celebrities and being part of the action you see on TV and you're there watching it. It's something you don't do in everyday life. It's almost like it's not real," said Lynn Lilje, who traveled from Vancouver to sit in the bleachers.
Among industry insiders, there was no way a rainy day was going to dampen spirits for Hollywood's biggest night, which was serving double duty as a ceremony honoring the year's best in film and a celebration for a town relieved that the crushing writers' strike had ended.
Settled just two weeks before the Oscars, the 100-day strike had left the fate of the show in doubt as stars indicated they would not cross writers' picket lines to attend. The celebrity bash at the Golden Globes wound up canceled for just that reason, so Oscar organizers figured everyone was ready for a big party.
"Not only have there not been any awards shows, but I think there's a good solid buzz about the strike being over (and) everybody back to work," academy president Sid Ganis said going into Oscar weekend.
Too bad there wasn't as much suspense over likely Oscar winners as there had been about the show itself.
The surprise best-picture win of "Crash" over "Brokeback Mountain" two years ago remained fresh in awards watchers' minds, but Sunday's show generally had been expected to crown favorites that had dominated throughout awards season, led by the Coen brothers' crime tale "No Country for Old Men."
Past screenplay winners for "Fargo," Joel and Ethan Coen went into the evening positioned to make Oscar history with potential wins in all four categories in which they had individual nominations -- best picture, director, adapted screenplay and editing (under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes).
Only one other person, Walt Disney, had ever won four Oscars in the same year, his prizes coming as producer of three short films and the documentary that won for 1953. No one has ever won four Oscars for the same film.
"No Country for Old Men" and the oil saga "There Will Be Blood" lead with eight nominations each, followed by the tragic romance "Atonement" and the legal thriller "Michael Clayton" with seven apiece.
All four films competed for best picture, with the pregnancy comedy "Juno" earning the fifth slot for the top prize.
Past Oscar winners were the favorites in the lead-acting categories, with Daniel Day-Lewis of "There Will Be Blood" and Julie Christie of "Away From Her" expected to triumph.
Javier Bardem was the front-runner to win supporting actor for "No Country for Old Men." Supporting actress was a toss-up, with many critics favoring Amy Ryan for "Gone Baby Gone" and much sentiment riding on Ruby Dee of "American Gangster," who at 83 would be the oldest acting winner ever.
(Source: China Daily/Agencies)