While researching the life of Ramon Novarro, one line that kept popping up whenever old-timers reminisced about the good old days of the silent era was, and I'm paraphrasing here, “We created a universal language that could be understood anywhere on the planet.” That might – or might not – explain how the French-made The Artist managed to win the Spirit Award for best independent American production of the year. (True, at least The Artist was shot in Los Angeles.) [Full list of Spirit Award winners and nominees.]
Anyhow, they had faces in The Artist – great-looking ones, too – but those with the voices at the Spirit Awards ceremony held in a tent on Santa Monica beach earlier today were host Seth Rogen and disembodied (and hoarse) announcer John Waters.
Rogen, who at the Golden Globes said something or other about an erection of some kind or other (five-year-olds in attendance found that hilarious), used the Spirit Awards' podium to poke fun at several celebrities, whether or not they were in attendance. According to Movieline, targeted were Cannes Bad Boy Lars von Trier (whose Melancholia was up for Best International Film), actor and media celeb (and The Passion of the Christ director) Mel Gibson (whose The Beaver wasn't up for anything), singer Chris Brown (who may or may not have “stolen” a Florida woman's cell phone), Take Shelter's big and menacing-looking Best Actor nominee Michael Shannon, and near-Oscar ceremony 2012 producer Brett Ratner.
In reference to Ratner's anti-gay slur of a couple of months ago, Rogen explained to the crowd that “the best thing to come of awards season is we learned what a horrible bigot Brett Ratner is.” Additionally, the host told the assembled nominees that “nothing will come from this if you win!"
Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer, who plays a gay man in Mike Mills' Beginners, will likely disagree with Rogen's two statements. An award is an award, and as far as Plummer is concerned, surely the best thing to come of this awards season is his countless Best Supporting Actor citations and trophies.
“It's taken me the longest time to realize that the Spirit Awards have nothing to do with booze,” the hard-living actor remarked, at least partly referring to the fact that he has been around acting in movies – but taking home precious few trophies until late last year – for more than half a century.
In a less joyful spirit, Plummer also took the occasion to disparage The Artist's Uggie: “Cosmo was much more human than Uggie. Uggie was just a trickster – our dog had soul!"
I'm not sure if having a soul makes a dog more human (or if it should be the other way around); either way, Plummer apparently doesn't want to give his soul any rest in the foreseeable future. The 82-year-old Plummer affirmed that he'll keep on working as “I can croak at any moment; you've got to keep going.” Stephen Frears' Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, in which he plays John Marshall Harlan is currently in the pre-production stages.
Beginners photo: Andrew Tepper / Focus Features.