INDEPENDENT 2024-03-09 16:08:35


From Olivia Colman to Cher, our favourite ever Oscar wins

Anyone who loves the Oscars will have their favourite Oscar wins – whether it’s a particularly memorable speech, an unexpected bit of category drama, or a long-in-the-works victory for a typically snubbed movie star.

These are the opposite of the more controversial wins. Instead they’re the really great ones, the wins that make the months and months of Oscar-centric rigamarole before the ceremony itself almost worth it.

Ahead of this weekend’s Oscarswhich will likely create a handful of genuinely joyous winsThe Independent’s culture desk have selected their personal faves from Oscar history.

Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive in 1994 – as chosen by Louis Chilton

It’s no surprise that Tommy Lee Jones has won an Oscar. Even before we take into account his formidable acting chops, the No Country for Old Men star simply has the vibe of someone who could scowl at Academy voters until they handed him a statuette out of sheer terror. That’s (probably) not what happened in 1994, though, when Jones was awarded Best Supporting Actor for his role as dogged US marshal Sam Gerrard in Andrew Davis’s Harrison-Ford-on-the-lam thriller The Fugitive. Jones’s turn simply isn’t the type of performance that ever wins an Oscar: a hard-bitten cop in a brilliant, but not necessarily “elevated”, genre film. Yet the win was fully deserved; there’s a reason his dogged lawman spawned a thousand parodies.

Olivia Colman for The Favourite in 2019 – as chosen by Helen Coffey

Prior to her Oscar-winning performance in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, Olivia Colman felt a bit like part of British telly furniture – like the nation’s favourite hilarious auntie, the one who would sweep in swathed in silver rings and colourful scarves and say rude words at the dinner table to make the kids laugh. She’d successfully made the switch from some of our best quirky, home-grown comedies – Peep Show, Green Wing, Flowers, Rev, Fleabag – to dramatic acting thanks to roles in Broadchurch and The Night Manager. But she felt very… domestic. America wouldn’t “get” her, we instinctively knew; she was a small-screen kinda gal.

Then she went and won the Best Actress Oscar for her stellar performance as Queen Anne in Lanthimos’s 2018 absurdist dark comedy. Suddenly, the whole world got to see what we’d always seen: how warm, funny, irreverent and outrageously charismatic Colman is. Up on that stage, within the course of two minutes, she delivered a teary but hysterical acceptance speech so perfectly unpolished (she blew a raspberry at one point) that she charmed an entire audience of A-listers, plus every single person who watched it. That speech catapulted Colman into new heights of career success, secured her “national treasure” status, and earned her a permanent spot in the hearts of myriads of people who’d never even heard of her before that night. I’m not sure the UK has ever been collectively prouder of one of our own.

Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club in 2014 – as chosen by Tom Murray

It’s 2014 and Matthew McConaughey has just swaggered onto the Oscar stage in a white tuxedo jacket. He is about to deliver one of the most memorable Academy Awards speeches of all time. With the Best Actor win for his role as Ron Woodroof, a cowboy with Aids, in Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey completed his McConaissance. The triumph cemented his return from romcom typecasting in Noughties films like The Wedding Planner and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, to auteur cinema. If McConaughey had never won this award, we might have never seen him in Interstellar or The Beach Bum – roles now synonymous with his name. Most importantly, we would not have heard that immortal speech, which now boasts 31 million views on YouTube, delivered in a way that only the Texas-born actor can. In his own words: “To that I say, Amen. To that I say, alright, alright, alright. To that I say, just keep living.”

Parasite wins Best Picture in 2020 – as chosen by Kevin E G Perry

It wasn’t supposed to happen. Bong Joon-Ho was already several drinks to the good, having declared gleefully after winning Best Original Screenplay and Best International Film: “I am ready to drink tonight until next morning.” The director could be forgiven for thinking his night had already peaked. Going into the 2020 Oscars, the strong favourite to take home the Best Picture prize was Sam Mendes’s war film 1917. The odds were firmly stacked against Parasite – nevermind that no film not in the English language had ever won the Academy’s top prize, but Bong’s razor sharp class and capitalism satire just seemed too sly and subversive to triumph at a ceremony that the previous year had given its biggest prize to Green Book.

Yet somehow Parasite swept the board, and Bong added both Best Director and Best Picture to his haul. It was a triumph as deserved as it was unexpected, and one that promised to usher in a new era of international cinematic appreciation. Ironically, it was a catty line Bong uttered at rival awards bash the Golden Globes that seemed to sum it up best. “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles,” he’d said, “You will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013 – as chosen by Jacob Stolworthy

Each awards season, there are a slew of expected – and somewhat staid – Oscar nominations that go on to win awards. But there is also a peppering of the more invigorating nominees who should go onto win, but absolutely won’t. Every so often, though, an Oscars ceremony comes around in which the stars align and the most deserving recipient achieves victory at what could be perceived to be the perfect time in their career. This year’s example will certainly be Da’Vine Joy Randolph, a Supporting Actress nominee for The Holdovers – but one that looms in the memory is Jennifer Lawrence’s Best Actress win for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013.

It wasn’t Lawrence’s first nomination – she received recognition for her understatedly brilliant work in Winter’s Bone in 2011 – but her win was the apotheosis of a busy two years that saw the actor, seemingly effortlessly, wind her way up the Hollywood ladder, cementing herself as the world’s biggest film star in the process. In fact, that year was perhaps the last ceremony where all four most-deserving actors won – Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) – and while Lawrence almost upstaged her own win by falling over on her way to the stage, it felt as close to Oscars magic the ceremony has managed in over a decade.

Emma Thompson for Sense and Sensibility in 1996 – as chosen by Jessie Thompson

There will always be a special place in my heart for Marion Cotillard and Colin Firth’s winning reactions – hers for La Vie en Rose (2007) a kind of extremely un-chic, un-French gushing, his for The King’s Speech (2010) an utterly British grunt before a threat to break into dance moves. But my favourite Oscar win of all time has to be Emma Thompson bagging Best Adapted Screenplay for her divine version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, in which she also played Elinor Dashwood. Fresh from the heartbreak of divorcing first husband Kenneth Branagh, who had cheated on her with Helena Bonham Carter, Thompson sits beside her mother Phyllida Law. She’d just been to Austen’s grave, she told the audience, “to pay my respects, and tell her about the grosses”. Thompson has since described the depression she’d felt around that breakup – but this film, in which she also met her husband Greg Wise, seemed to mark a turning point in her life. It’s a joy to see her in the act of rising from the flames, triumphing for the ineffable charm and wit that have always made her one of our most supremely lovable stars.

Cher for Moonstruck in 1988 – as chosen by Adam White

No one will want to imagine the day in which Cher shuffles off this mortal coil – a day hopefully so far off in the future that her funeral procession will take place amid flying cars, a national day of mourning declared by president Blue Ivy Carter. But when that day does arrive, I will be satiated by the knowledge that she’ll die with an Oscar. Pop stars aren’t historically fantastic actors, let alone Academy Award winners, but Cher isn’t built like most pop stars. Her work in the 1987 romantic drama Moonstruck is seminal stuff – a piece of pure, soulful, emotional wizardry as she transforms from yearning widow to glamorous heroine per the sheer magic of the night sky. Cher’s win is occasionally invoked as a win that shouldn’t have happened, as if she robbed the perennially snubbed Glenn Close of an Oscar that year for Fatal Attraction. But this is a dreadful take! Yes, Close is spectacular in Fatal Attraction. As is fellow nominee Holly Hunter in Broadcast News. But it’s Cher! Academy Award for Best Actress winner Cher! Inscribe it on her tomb! Hell, inscribe it on mine!

Charlotte Church joins pro-Palestine rally after antisemitism row

Charlotte Church was seen leading a pro-Palestine rally in London this afternoon – two weeks after she drew criticism for singing an apparent antisemitic song.

The Welsh singer was at the front of the crowd of thousands of protesters who are marching from Hyde Park to the US embassy in their call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

It’s taking place just hours after US president Joe Biden told supporters in Philadelphia that securing a ceasefire was “looking tough” as the situation worsens in the Middle East.

Ms Church, aged 38, was today seen smiling and posing for pictures beside banners at the march, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Her appearance comes two weeks after she denied the song “from the River to the Sea” was antisemitic following criticism for singing a rendition at a pro-Palestine fundraising concern in Caerphilly in South Wales.

The song’s lyrics are a reference to the land between the Jordan River, which borders eastern Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west – and are controversial to many British Jews who see them as a call for Israel’s destruction.

Speaking at today’s event, the singer said she joined the protest to “show solidarity with the people of Palestine for all that they are suffering through”.

She added: “I am here today to call for an immediate ceasefire, to ask our government and governments all over the world to send as strong message as we possibly can. But a strong, a peaceful a loving message, that’s what every single march that I’ve been on for Palestine has been about.

“There’s been singing there’s been drumming, yes, there’s been emotion, but in the majority that emotion has been love, has been compassion because that’s why we’re all here.

“We’re all here because we cannot bear what we’re witnessing. We cannot bear to see civilians, children, women slaughtered. And so we are here because our hearts are so full of love for the Palestinian people.”

A large police presence is in the area with a counter protest said to be also organised.

The protest, one of many that have taken place in the capital at weekends, come as some are demanding tougher action against them with the cost of policing them already reaching over £32m.

Robin Simcox, the government’s counter-extremism tsar, warned that a “permissive environment for radicalisation” was developing.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Simcox said: “We will not have become an authoritarian state if London is no longer permitted to be turned into a no-go zone for Jews every weekend.”

And Daniel Sugarman, the director of public affairs at the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “Many British Jews do feel that the centre of London is unsafe for them during these marches. This includes Synagogues in the area.

Responding to Mr Simcox’s comments, a No 10 spokeswoman said: “The prime minister would want to make clear it is very important to take people who feel this way extremely seriously and he is acutely aware of the fear and distress that many people have been feeling and communities across our country.

“That’s why he’s very clear that some of the behaviour that we’ve seen in recent weeks is unacceptable and it doesn’t reflect the values that we have as a society.”

John Rees, an organiser from the Stop the War Coalition, rejected Mr Simcox’s claims, saying it was “irresponsible” of the government to whip up what he described as unnecessary fear in Britain’s Jewish community.

He said: “Of course, if the government decides to whip up that kind of fear, then people are going to feel that, of course they are.”

A Stop The War Coalition statement read: “The situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate. Half a million people are facing starvation, acute food shortages are affecting the whole population and Israeli forces are carrying out massacres against those in queue for basic foodstuffs.

“Meanwhile, here in Britain the government has escalated its attacks on the pro-Palestine movement, with Rishi Sunak resorting to the ‘mob rule’ cliché and James Cleverly calling for an end to the recent wave of protests while floating clampdowns on the right to protest.

“The combination of these two crises mean there’s never been a more important time to continue our protesting. Make sure you’re on the streets as we march from Hyde Park Corner to the US Embassy in Nine Elms.”

Kate ‘sets date for return’ as Meghan reveals pain at ‘cruel’ pregnancy comments

Kate Middleton is “doing her best” to return to royal duties after Easter, a royal expert has claimed.

Ingrid Seward, editor in chief of Majesty Magazine, addressed concerns that the Princess of Wales has not been seen in public since her abdominal surgery in January.

She told The Mirror: “The Princess is obviously doing her best behind the scenes to get fit and healthy so she is ready to face the publicity which will surround her return to public engagements after Easter.”

Buckingham Palace has been approached for comment.

The remarks came as Meghan Markle spoke out against the “toxicity” of social media as she revealed she faced online abuse while pregnant.

During a keynote speech at South by Southwest (SXSW) festival to mark International Women’s Day on Friday, the Duchess of Sussex recalled the “cruel” comments aimed at her while carrying her two children, Prince Archie and Princess Lilibet.

On the comments she faced, the duchess said: “You just think about that, and have to really wrap your head around why people would be so hateful. It’s not catty, it’s cruel.”

Sycamore Gap tree given new life at top-secret lab

Shoots from the rescued seeds and twigs of the Sycamore Gap have sprung up in a secret National Trust laboratory, fuelling hopes the iconic tree will regrow after it was cut down with a chainsaw.

Scientists acted fast, grabbing young cuttings thrown to the ground when the tree fell before whisking them off to a high-security Devon greenhouse guarding genetic copies of the UK’s most precious plants.

Five months on in the lab which keeps its exact location shrouded in mystery, tiny shoots are regrowing with nine grafted plants and 50 seedling clones that could be used as back-up in case the stump doesn’t regrow naturally.

There was an outcry when the tree was illegally chainsawed in September, with Northumberland National Park saying it had received 2,000 “heartfelt” messages from people around the world expressing sorrow. Two men remain on bail.

Historic England said Hadrian’s Wall had suffered damage during the act of vandalism, and the future of the famed tree has been uncertain until now.

The tree stump remains in its original spot, in the hope it will regrow in time, and there is currently a low fence in place to give the tree the best chance of regrowth.

But to generate clone back-ups, horticulturalist Rachel Ryver collected young twigs with buds from the fallen tree – the raw material for grafting genetic copies.

She told the BBC: “It was drying out fast – we had to save whatever we could. Hours later I was standing at Hexham post office thinking, ‘nobody knows I’m carrying what’s left of the Sycamore Gap tree.’”

The lab contains genetic copies of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree that inspired his theories on gravity, and an ancient yew tree that witnessed King Henry VIII’s relationship with Anne Boleyn.

Juliet Stubbington is carrying out grafting, an ancient technique that binds fresh roots with living twigs that will have buds of the same species.

Scientists hope the two will knit together to make one larger living young tree.

“It is the same tree,” she said. “It’s lovely to help them grow back. Each one of these trees is a story.”

It will be three years before horticulturists know if the stump is healthy enough to produce the next tree.

“The felling of the Sycamore Gap tree has shown just how much nature and landscape mean to people, to their very wellbeing,” Tony Gates, chief executive officer of the Northumberland National Park Authority, said.

“As stewards of the legacy of Sycamore Gap, the partners have been humbled by the outpouring of love and emotion for the tree. We understand the diversity of opinions surrounding a future legacy and are committed to navigating this journey with the utmost care and respect. We are grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding.

“We are determined to honour the spirit of Sycamore Gap through opportunities to connect with the tree, and to create a legacy for both people and nature.”

Driver killed going wrong way down M62 before hitting Amazon truck

A driver has been killed in a horror crash after driving the wrong way down a motorway.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the fatal collision between an Audi and an Amazon delivery lorry on the M62 on Saturday morning.

Paramedics were called to the scene on the eastbound carriageway close to Junction 29 for Lofthouse at around 3.30am.

The male driver of the Audi was tragically declared dead at the scene shortly after.

Pictures from the scene show investigators examining a wrecked white Audi that appears to be destroyed in a head-on collision.

An Amazon delivery lorry appears to have smashed into the central reservation of the motorway as a result of the crash.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “The collision involved a white Audi A3 travelling against the flow of traffic and a Renault HGV.

“The male occupant of the Audi was confirmed dead at the scene a short time later.

“A road closure is in place while collision investigators establish exactly what happened.

“Officers from the Major Collision Enquiry Team are keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the manner of driving of the Audi prior to the collision.”

The road is expected to remain closed into the afternoon.

It came after a driver of an £80,000 electric Jaguar spoke of his terror as police were forced to ram him off the road when the brakes on the luxury car failed.

Nathan Owen was trapped inside the speeding Jaguar I-Pace as it tore down the busy M62 without any working brakes after it suffered an “electrical fault”.

Police used specialist pursuit tactics to ram the out-of-control vehicle, eventually bringing it to a safe stop on Wednesday.

Anyone who may have witnessed Saturday’s collision, the circumstances leading up to it or who may have video footage is asked to contact West Yorkshire Police by calling 101 or go online at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat quoting reference 231 of 9/3.

A culinary tour of the Algarve: from wine and seafood to desserts

The Algarve, on Portugal’s southern coast, is the country’s most popular holiday destination for good reason: it boasts over 100 miles of beautiful beaches, charming villages, and endless culture and activities. But one of the best reasons to visit is the region’s incredible food. As befits its proximity to the sea, fish and seafood are an absolute highlight, but the region’s diverse cuisine boasts dishes to suit every taste and palate.

To help you find your perfect foodventure, travel experts Jet2holidays offer breaks in more than 50 amazing destinations, including the Algarve. All holidays include accommodation, return flights, transfers and 22kg baggage, all wrapped up in an ABTA and ATOL-protected package for a low £60pp deposit*. There are thousands of Free Child Places** available, and infants under two go free✝. Meaning it couldn’t be easier to book your next break with the Which? Travel Brand of the Year 2023 and Tripadvisor’s Best UK Airline.

Here we explore some of the region’s must-try dishes, foodie locales and immersive experiences, so you can start planning your own culinary-infused getaway.

Whether you’re in a bigger, buzzier town such as Lagos, Albufeira or Faro, or enjoying the serenity of a smaller seaside resort like Olhão or Praia da Luz, you’ll find many of the same delicious local specialities on restaurant menus.

Must-eats include conquilhas à algarvia, a mix of plump clams fresh from the Atlantic, cooked with garlic coriander, olive oil, lemon juice and slices of succulent Portuguese sausage. There’s nothing better than tucking into a plateful, using bread to mop up the juices, and savouring a crisp glass of white wine at an al fresco eatery overlooking the ocean. You can’t miss the Algarve’s mouth-watering shrimp bisque either: a rich, creamy soup made with just-caught prawns and thickened with day-old bread. Served with a squeeze of lemon, it’s a beach holiday in a bowl.

Sardines are another Algarve must-sample, often simply grilled and served with potatoes, but in the beach town of Portimão, they’re cooked in a blend of herbs and spices, placed on a thick slice of bread, and served with a fresh tomato, cucumber, red pepper, onion and oregano salad. Locals tuck into the fish first, then enjoy the oil and herb-soaked crust afterwards. You might also spot diners eating their supper straight from a metal pot; this is a cataplana, in which a hearty stew of onions, peppers and tomatoes mixed with fish and shellfish is simmered and served.

Portuguese piri-piri chicken is one of the Algarve’s most popular dishes. Known as frango assado, the chicken is grilled or barbecued with a spicy, piri-piri chilli sauce marinade for a favourite the whole family will love. Wild boar, known as javali, is another crowd pleaser: just like pork, it can be served grilled, oven-baked or in rich stews.

If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, you’ll enjoy the tradition of petiscos, essentially light bites or snacks. Order a few of these small plates to share – perfect washed down with a chilled beer – options include the likes of cod fritters, fried prawns, sliced chorizo, or a selection of cheese and charcuterie.

And as a sweet treat to finish any meal, try the dom rodrigo, a delicious, sticky, pyramid-shaped dessert dating from the 18th century, which combines sugar, egg yolks, ground almonds, cinnamon and fios de ovos (a traditional Portuguese sweet, made by boiling eggs in sugar syrup).

Fancy recreating some of these dishes yourself? Book into a local cookery class, where you can learn how to make the food you’ve enjoyed here when you’re back home. Further immersive experiences can involve meeting and chatting to local producers, or getting a tour of a local market with a chef before cooking with ingredients you’ve bought.

There are also several excellent food markets throughout the towns and villages of the Algarve, and it’s worth spending some time wandering around them and marveling at the glossy, farm-fresh produce on offer.

The most popular market in Algarve is Olhão market. Set in twin bright red-brick buildings facing the Ria Formosa lagoon, Olhão Mercado Municipal comprises two market halls. One sells fresh fish directly from the boats. The other fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, flowers, dried fruits and Portuguese sweets. On Saturday mornings, visitors can experience a much larger farmers’ market, where local farmers and producers exhibit and sell their products directly on the streets around the market building.

Another must-visit is the monthly market in the small town of Moncarapacho, just beyond Olhão, which sells fruit, vegetables and fish, and boasts a range of food stalls so you can eat as you wander. In Lagos you’ll find a typical farmers’ market, where you can pick up fresh eggs, olives, homemade jams, sweets and home-baked bread, while the lively Loulé Municipal Market is located in a historic building that dates back more than 100 years and offers plenty of tasty produce, including fresh fish and organic food.

Finally, for those seeking a tipple, as well as the tales and terroir behind it, the Algarve boasts a wealth of vineyards where you can sample different varieties and learn about their production. The wine region here consists of four DOCs (a ‘designation of controlled origin’, signifying high quality and authenticity): Lagos, Portimão, Lagoa and Tavira, which benefit from a warm, sunny climate, perfect for growing vines. You’ll find crisp whites such as Arinto, Malvasia Fina and Crato Branco, ideal for summer sipping, but also robust, velvety reds, such as Negra Mole, Castelão and Trincadeira. Saúde! (Portuguese for ‘Cheers!’)

To make it even easier for you to enjoy the ultimate break in the Algarve, Jet2holidays provides the perfect package holiday, looking after you at every step of the way with award-winning customer service and In-Resort Customer Helpers to ensure your stay goes smoothly.

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Fly to the Algarve from 11 UK airports: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and London Stansted. To find out more and start planning your trip, visit Jet2holidays

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Goodbye, Theresa May – thank you for trying

At other times in the nation’s history, Theresa May could have been the right prime minister. She was a diligent, personally decent leader, who found herself in office, slightly to her surprise after other candidates fell at late hurdles, at a time when exceptional qualities were required.

One small measure of her propriety was that she remained in the House of Commons for five years after being prime minister, serving her constituents in Maidenhead and pursuing causes in which she believed – and she announced her intention to stand down as an MP in her local newspaper.

As she joins the growing queue for the exit, further reinforcing expectations of a change of government at the coming election, now is a good time to take stock of her contribution to national life.

Will the Tories get any post-Budget bounce in the polls?

Three new national opinion polls published on Friday include some survey work carried out after the Budget, and all three show Labour leads of more than 20 percentage points.

But even if the Budget did affect public opinion, it would be too early to say what the effect was. YouGov and Techne started their interviews on Wednesday, and so most of them would have been conducted before the Budget headlines landed. People Polling did all its interviews on Thursday, so was more likely to capture any Budget effect. But as one pollster told me the other day, “almost nothing changes public opinion”, and the news stories that so interest the Westminster bubble rarely scratch the surface of the public’s consciousness.