The Oscars: in pictures

The best moments from the 82nd Academy Awards.

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James Cameron, director of Avatar, pretends to strangle his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker. Both were up for the Best Director and Best Picture awards. She pipped him to the post in both categories.

 

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Here Bigelow is congratulated by the producer Greg Shapiro. She is the first woman ever to win in the Best Director category. The film won in five categories: Writing (Original Screenplay), Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Directing and Best Picture. John Pilger wasn't too impressed, though.

 

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The comedian Ben Stiller gets all dressed up to present the Best Make-Up award. The gong actually went to Star Trek, but Avatar did win awards for: Art Direction, Cinematography and Visual Effects. Slavoj Žižek discusses the film in this week's New Statesman.

 

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Jeff Bridges, who finally won the prize for Best Actor in a Leading Role on his fifth nomination, is congratulated by his wife, Susan.

 

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Mo'Nique celebrates her Oscar for a Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, for her part in Precious, reviewed by Ryan Gilbey here.

 

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Sandra Bullock accepts her award for Best Actress for her role in The Blind Side. The same weekend, she had the dubious honour of receiving an award for Worst Actress, in the film All About Steve, at the Razzies, which celebrate bad films. Unlike most Razzie nominees, she attended the ceremony to pick up her prize in person.

 

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The British hopeful Carey Mulligan, nominated in the Best Actress category for her role in An Education, presented an award, but left with nothing. The other British nominees Colin Firth, Armando Iannucci, Helen Mirren and Nick Hornby also went home empty-handed.

All photos from AFP/Getty Images.

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Harry Styles: What can three blank Instagram posts tell us about music promotion?

Do the One Direction star’s latest posts tell us about the future of music promotion in the social media age - or take us back to a bygone era?

Yesterday, Harry Styles posted three identical, captionless blank images to Instagram. He offered no explanation on any other social network, and left no clue via location serves or tagged accounts as to what the pictures might mean. There was nothing about any of the individual images that suggested they might have significance beyond their surface existence.

And, predictably, they brought in over a million likes – and thousands of Styles fans decoding them with the forensic dedication of the cast of Silent Witness.

Of course, the Instagrams are deliberately provocative in their vagueness. They reminded me of Robert Rauschenberg’s three-panelled White Painting (1951), or Robert Ryman’s Untitled, three square blank canvases that hang in the Pompidou Centre. The composer John Cage claimed that the significance of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings lay in their status as receptive surfaces that respond to the world around them. The significance of Styles’s Instagrams arguably, too, only gain cultural relevance as his audience engages with them.

So what did fans make of the cryptic posts? Some posited a modelling career announcement would follow, others theorised that it was a nod to a Taylor Swift song “Blank Space”, and that the former couple would soon confirm they were back together. Still more thought this suggested an oncoming solo album launch.

You can understand why a solo album launch would be on the tip of most fans’ tongues. Instagram has become a popular platform for the cryptic musical announcement — In April, Beyoncé teased Lemonade’s world premiere with a short Instagram video – keeping her face, and the significance behind the title Lemonade, hidden.

Creating a void is often seen as the ultimate way to tease fans and whet appetites. In June last year, The 1975 temporarily deleted their Instagram, a key platform in building the band’s grungy, black and white brand, in the lead up to the announcement of their second album, which involved a shift in aesthetic to pastel pinks and bright neons.

The Weekend wiped his, too, just last week – ahead of the release of his new single “Starboy”. Blank Instagrams are popular across the network. Jaden Smith has posted hundreds of them, seemingly with no wider philosophical point behind them, though he did tweet in April last year, “Instagram Is A BlackHole Of Time And Energy.”

The motive behind Harry’s blank posts perhaps seems somewhat anticlimactic – an interview with magazine Another Man, and three covers, with three different hairstyles, to go along with it. But presumably the interview coincides with the promotion of something new – hopefully, something other than his new film Dunkirk and the latest update on his beloved tresses. In fact, those blank Instagrams could lead to a surprisingly traditional form of celebrity announcement – one that surfaces to the world via the print press.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.