Odd books and Oscars

Anthony D’Offay's generosity hasn't gone down well in all quarters, this week in the arts world

And so to the 2008 Oscars: best film went to Juno, best actress to Ellen Page for Juno, best actor was Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd and best supporting actress went to Cate Blanchett for her gender-bending turn as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There. These would have been the results if the public had decided, according to the E-Poll/Reuters survey.

Instead, the Coen brothers came away with four awards including best picture for No Country for Old Men. Not that this was the critics’ choice. When the Coen brothers did win, Ryan Gilbey decried the Academy’s decision to give the best picture award to No Country rather than the There Will Be Blood, an error that he compares to Citizen Kane’s losing out to How Green was My Valley back in 1942. However, Gilbey is optimistic that Hollywood conservatism will be out with the Bush administration. For the full article, read here. Ken Levine pointed out that, as usual, the best films going were the foreign films and animations, one of which, Persepolis, a young girl’s view of the Islamic Revolution will be showing at the forthcoming Bird’s Eye View film festival, details of which will be in next week’s New Statesman.

The art world received its biggest benefaction since Henry Tate this week when art collector Anthony D’Offay offered 725 pieces of postwar and modern art to the Tate and National Galleries of Scotland for just a fifth of their estimated £125 million value. But not everybody was waxing lyrical about his generosity. London private dealer Ivor Braka called it “the biggest loss” to the arts scene in over 20 years, claiming that D’Offay’s collections were needed to maintain the reputation of London’s galleries as exciting, relevant viewing rooms apart from its museums. And with D’Offay’s donation plugging some major gaps in the UK’s 20th century art collections, critics such as Jonathan Jones are now anticipating a cooling of lending relations between the Tate and New York’s MOMA. Let’s just hope D’Offay doesn’t do an Eli Broad. He was the American collector who recently retracted his donation of around 2000 20th and 21st century art works promised to
LACMA. For an American verdict on both the D’Offay and Broad donations, try Edward Winkleman’s blogspot.

Read any oddly-titled books lately? How about Cheese problems solved or Are Women human? These were just two of the mavericks that made the Diagram prize shortlist for Oddest Book Title of the year this week, along with possibly the most abrasive self-help title on the shelves, If you want closure in your relationship, Start with your legs. Cast your vote now on the Bookseller’s website. The winner will be announced on March 28.

And finally, Mike Smith, lead singer of 60s Beat group, the Dave Clark Five has died, aged 64. The band, famous for hits such as 'I Like It Like That' and 'Any Way You Want It' were already due to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10. A fittingly-timed tribute.