78th Annual Academy Awards

“Hollywood is out of touch with mainstream America.” That’s what I was hearing all week, because of the five best-picture nominees were not big box office grossers. Again, on the Sunday morning news programs: Larry Elder, the black conservative talk show host, spouting the same rhetoric, on CBS Sunday Morning. George Will even did the “straw man” thing, noting that “Good Night, and Good Luck” was supposed to be “cutting edge”, but that Joe McCarthy has been dead for 49 years, to which I say:
1) It was its cinematography and look which WAS cutting edge and
2) McCarthy may be dead, but McCarthyism lives on, as any early opponent of the Iraq war can tell you. In fact, I think the film is as much about McCartyhy as “M*A*S*H” was about Korea, which was not much.

The Oscars, supposedly, honor quality, not box office. There are People’s Choice Awards for the most popular films. Moreover, there have been plenty of recent films that were both Oscar winners and big box office.

For the record, this is IMDB’s top ten films in terms of domestic box office:

380,262,555 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
288,060,759 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
287,153,504 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
234,280,354 War of the Worlds
216,326,425 King Kong
209,218,368 Wedding Crashers
206,456,431 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
205,343,774 Batman Begins
193,136,719 Madagascar
186,336,103 Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Many WERE nominated in the technical categories. I dare say that most of these films also cost more to make than the five Best Picture nominees, and that a movie needn’t be big box office to be profitable.

Anyway, I watch the Oscar broadcast for those WOW! moments, the emotional or controversial speech, the really funny shtick. There was exactly one WOW! moment in the whole broadcast for me, the performance of “It’s Out Here for a Pimp”, followed by its selection as Best Original Song. I saw both of the other movies from which songs were nominated, “Transamerica” and “Crash”, and I didn’t remember the songs at all.

Oh, there were moments:
*The video intro with former hosts turning down the gig, then Jon Stewart in bed with Halle Berry, then George Clooney
*Clooney’s acceptance speech, where he notes (correctly) that he won’t be getting the directing Oscar, that his obit will read 1997 Sexiest Man Alive, and that he was happy not to be in the mainstream
*The “invisible” Ben Stiller, mildly humorous
*Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin’s somewhat lame attempts to be Altmanesque. The CBS film critic was hoping Altman would give ’em hell, but he was quite gracious
*Carell and Farrell in bad makeup was a visual treat
*The American Express commercial with M. Night Shymalan; I didn’t know WHAT the heck was going on until the end
*Lauren Bacall’s trouble reading the intro for the “film noir” film clips, which was painful

I thought most of those movie film clips were unnecessary and just made the program longer. In fact, the one I would have kept is the socially relevant film clip, introed by Samuel L. Jackson. I did enjoy the “political” clips, though, the supposed slam ads for the best actress and sound editing categories.

By the time Resse Witherspoon predictably won, it was 11:03, and I just went to bed. Wish Felicity Huffman had won; she got so emotional in the red carpet pre-show when one of the hosts showed her a video clip of her four co-stars on “Desperate Housewives” wishing her well, it might have been more interesting television.

I got up at 5 to watch the remaining part of the show:

Glad about all the award winners, but annoyed that the original screenplay winners were cut off by the music.

I’ll admit; when “Crash” won for Best Picture, I jumped out of my chair for joy, in part because I really liked the film, and in part because I actually picked it to win.

But all in all, a pretty boring show, I’m afraid.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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