Oscar for Irglová and Hansard shows the Academy can occasionally get it right

02-03-2008

When they give a bagful of Academy Awards to some load of epic rubbish, as they seem to so often do, it merely confirms my belief that the Academy is made up of sentimental Hollywood insiders lobbied to within an inch of their lives. But when they give an Oscar to a director/actor/film I admire I instantly (and stupidly) attach value to the award and am really pleased. At least you got it right this time, I think.

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, photo: CTKGlen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, photo: CTK That was certainly my reaction early on Monday morning when I was thoroughly delighted to learn that the young Czech musician Markéta Irglová and her Irish boyfriend Glen Hansard had taken this year’s golden statuette for best original song. I had neither heard nor indeed heard of any of the other compositions in contention. Not that I needed to – I was full sure the Academy had got it right!

I must admit I don’t think either the song Falling Slowly or Once, the picture it comes from, are particularly brilliant works of art. But both are, like Markéta Irglová and Glen Hansard themselves in my very limited experience, eminently likable. Anyway it’s always good to see non-showbiz types doing well in a world in which most “entertainers” could easily pass for kids TV presenters.

Markéta’s tale in particular is heart-warming. A talented but quiet teenage pianist from a dozy Moravian town meets a charismatic foreign rock musician older friend of her parents. They become a couple after co-starring in a low budget, shot in two weeks movie which becomes a hit against the odds. The soundtrack sells half a million copies and the 19-year-old becomes the first woman from her country ever to win an Academy Award. At the Oscars the orchestra strikes up before she can make it to the microphone following her partner’s acceptance speech, but she is called back by the genial host and makes, evidently off the cuff, what is widely regarded as the most inspiring and touching speech of the night. Brilliant story, or what?

Who knows what the “sequel” will be, but Markéta and Glen are no doubt now enjoying every minute of their slightly surreal, dream-come-true success; I’m sure they can also look forward to a financial windfall in terms of album sales, film royalties and increased draw when they perform live. Well done to the two of them. And well done to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences!

02-03-2008