Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Most Promising Newcomer

Judi Dench or Helen Mirren? Well, I've seen both The Queen and Notes on a Scandal and enjoyed them both very much. I enjoyed The Queen much more than I expected, not having much interest in royalty: and I thoroughly recommend Notes on a Scandal. Excellent acting in both, I thought, from excellent casts and the BAFTA could have gone to either Judi or Helen: both would have been worthy winners.

Of course Judi applauded and smiled when Helen won - and actually she's always seemed to me to be a very gracious woman. But wouldn't it be great, just great, if once on one of these occasions the loser got up and yelled "It's not fair! That should have been me up there!"

Another, less famous woman received a BAFTA too: Andrea Arnold, or, to give her her full title, Former Children's TV Presenter Andrea Arnold (I'll come back to that Former Children's TV Presenter bit).

Last year she won an Oscar for her short film Wasp which is excellent - ah, the skill that goes into telling a simple story well! Watch it here.

Now Former Children's TV Presenter Andrea Arnold (I'll come back to it, yes I will) has won the Carl Foreman Award for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer in First Feature, for her film Red Road, out on DVD next week.

So, many congratulations to her. But I've seen a few newspaper articles about her now and the tone is always one of slight incredulity.

"Former Children's TV Presenter Andrea Arnold" has a subtext running beneath it. How could someone who was just a presenter have the brains and skill to direct a film? And, what's more, a presenter for children's television! If she'd presented Newsnight - well, we might think it possible - - but only working for children! Isn't that just all that brightly-coloured bouncing-about stuff? Surely anyone can do that?

Yes, infuriating. And showing, too - in passing - the deep-seated contempt for children that there is in this country. Perhaps, when Andrea Arnold's made a few more films, they will stop describing her in this way. Then they'll start calling her Most Promising Newcomer instead.


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