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The British dominance of Hollywood has been a big story throughout award season. But one could be forgiven for mistaking last night’s Oscars for a World Cup match, and, predictably, Britain got beaten by Mexico. With a sea of Mexican flags waving in the audience, winner after winner from Pan’s Labyrinth and Babel were called to pick up statuettes, but most of the Brit nominees – like Sacha Baron Cohen, Stephen Frears, Peter Morgan, Paul Greengrass, and Peter O’Toole – went home empty-handed. There was one notable exception, of course, and that was Dame Helen Mirren, who became the first post-menopausal Oscar winner in ages. (Also, as The Independent notes, she was the first British Best Actress since Emma Thompson won for Howard’s End in 1992.) Dame Helen glittered as she stood onstage in her bejewelled gown. She even had her James Cameron moment when she held her Oscar aloft and proclaimed, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Queen!”

The Guardian‘s Michael Billington looks at why Helen Mirren, Peggy Ashcroft, and Judi Dench won their Oscars so late in life. C’mon, Mike, with the exception of Ashcroft, these ladies aren’t dead yet! Mirren’s got another good twenty years in her if she wants it.

Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen are set to star in a movie about Alfred Hitchcock. Hopkins will play the famed director; Mirren will play his wife.(Scroll down to the third item in The Guardian.) Good to see Mirren working more than ever.

Speaking of Brits in Hollywood, there was an interesting article over the weekend at The Guardian about British actors of black and South Asian descent. It appears they are coming to America in droves for parts denied to them in the UK. Writer Stephen Armstrong calls it a “Plane Drain.” He talks to Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost), Parminder Nagra (ER), American-born Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes…and editors’ note: hot), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Without a Trace), Naveen Andrews (Lost), Idris Elba (The Wire, seen at right), Eamonn Walker (Justice), and Lennie James (Jericho, The State Within). They all speak of their struggles in the UK and the freedom they’ve found here in the States. Elba, who starred in Tyler Perry‘s Daddy’s Little Girls recently, says, “I always wanted to play the lead in a TV show. But back in London, I was always just going to be the best friend, or the crook or the detective on the side.” Jean-Baptiste was even Oscar-nominated and claims it meant bugger-all to British casting directors. It’s a fascinating read, and yes, another article about British racism! Yay! Maybe I should change my blog’s name to Angry Black Anglophile.

In music news, another day, another slagging match between bands. This time, it’s Kaiser Chiefs fighting back against indie heroes Arctic Monkeys and The View. Keyboardist Nick ‘Peanut’ Baines says, “You realize that it’s all one big game, but, unfortunately, the bands that choose to slag us off are taking it far too seriously. It’d be better if they were writing better songs than us, but they’re not so they can shut up.”

The Chiefs are OK in my book: they’ve ended the six-week reign of terror from Mika. Meanwhile, the top 10 UK singles also include the returns of Kelis (in a space-age duet with Gnarls Barkley‘s Cee-Lo) and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Plus, Take That trades in one hit single (the ballad “Patience”) for another (the uptempo, Vegas-y “Shine”). Also: have the Take That boys opened the door for a Robbie Williams return? Yeah, we’ve heard this before.

1. Kaiser Chiefs – Ruby
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2. Mika – GraceKelly
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3. Kelis Ft Cee Lo -Lil Star
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4. Akon Ft Snoop Doggy Dogg – I Wanna Love You
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5. The Fray – How To Save A Life
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6. Just Jack – Starz inTheir Eyes
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7. Gwen Stefani Ft Akon – The Sweet Escape
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8. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Catch You
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9. Fall Out Boy – This Aint a Scene,It’s an Arms Race
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10. Take That – Shine
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Something the record labels may not want to hear: with Britney and Robbie floundering in rehab and big artists facing declining sales, is it the end of the pop superstar era? The Daily Telegraph‘s Neil McCormick makes the case for this.

In other news:

  • Daniel Radcliffe‘s trou-dropping role in Equus has left his Warner Bros. bosses “utterly dismayed,” according to The Guardian‘s Xan Brooks in an article about Harry Potter’s fate. “There are even suggestions that the boy wizard will now have to be re-cast for the final two Potter pictures. ‘I guess we always knew that Harry and Daniel would have to grow up,’ spluttered one indignant source. ‘But we hadn’t bargained on full-frontal sex scenes.'”

  • Tracey Thorn of Everything But the Girl is back, and she has a rather lengthy interview with Telegraph Magazine.
  • Jade Goody has made a “private” trip to India. (Daily Mail)
  • Liz Hurley will wear a Versace gown to her wedding – but which one? I know you’re dying to know. (Daily Mail)
  • Victoria Beckham skipped the Oscars but attended Elton John‘s after-party. (The Sun)
  • If you believe the 3am girls, Orlando Bloom got frisky with two ladies – Penélope Cruz and Ray Winston’s daughter, Jaime – at last night’s Oscar parties.(Mirror)
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By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.