For the majority of actors and actresses it just doesn't get any bigger than Oscar night – unless you're Judi Dench, in which case you'd actively rather let a man in a face-mask smash open your leg and fiddle about with the insides of your knee.
Judi Dench, you see, is going to avoid The Oscars this year – even though she's up for Best Actress thanks to her role in Notes On A Scandal – and it's all because The Oscars coincide with some knee surgery she's due to have that'll involve having her leg broken and reset. And while she's in hospital Judi Dench is also going to have her face broken and reset – all that polite smiling she's been doing each of the gazillion times that Helen Mirren has beaten her to an award this year has meant that Judi's face has now permanently contorted into a hideous mix of two parts graceful appreciation to one part hidden secret disappointment.
Not since George Segal made up a lie about a donkey eating his shoes in 1966 rather than see Walter Matthau beat him to the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1966 has an actor gone to so much trouble not to be there when an Academy Award is given to somebody else. But that's what Dame Judi Dench has done – she won't be going to The Oscars this year, she told BBC News, because she'd literally rather have her leg broken by a stranger than watch Helen Mirren win another bloody award for The Queen. You and us both, sister:
"The thing about the Oscars, it's strange because in the theatre you would say, 'Break a leg'. I can't because I'm to have a knee operation. I can't go to the awards. I'm going to have my leg broken and put back together. I will watch and cheer from my bed."
Judi Dench is entirely right to put her health ahead of a big hollow awards ceremony like The Oscars. Besides, she's Judi Dench – if she appeared in a movie called Go-Go Strippers From The Dinosaur Ninja Hell-Planet for 1.8 seconds as Colossal Laser-Goat Number Nine she'd still get an Oscar nomination for it. And she's completely spot-on to assume that she won't win the Best Actress Oscar anyway – The Baftas, The Golden Globes, The Screen Actors Guild and the Film Critic people all say that Helen Mirren has it in the bag this year, not to mention hecklerspray's Oscar betting odds.
While it's unknown what form Judi Dench's knee surgery will take – we imagine that she's being turned into part-Terminator for the Casino Royale follow-up – using it to miss the ceremony is a masterstroke, and we expect that other actors will start to take her lead in the run-up to The Oscars. For instance, if Will Smith wants his legs broken, we've got a sledgehammer with his name on it.