Is there any point in watching the Academy Awards anymore?
Between the glut of predictions during the months preceding the show to the numerous other award ceremonies before the Oscars, there is little room for surprise. I’m sure anyone who has gone to the cinema or picked up an issue of Entertainment Weekly in the past year knew that The Artist would win Best Picture and Best Director. It’s novel – a silent film in 2012 (oh, the irony) and it’s a movie about the movies. Hollywood loves the cinema. Of course it won.
I say this not to diminish the beauty and, well, artistry of The Artist. The Best Picture winner should, in my opinion, offer something unique, transformational, innovative, or brave. I don’t understand why “normal” films such as Moneyball or The Help are offered as best picture nominees. Politics and money, I’m sure. Just like any good ‘ol American establishment.
So, yes, well done Michel Hazanavicius, Antoine de Cazotte, Daniel Delume & Co. I’ve a special place in my heart for France, and it was a delight to watch their excitement upon winning. The flurries of kisses. The exuberant acceptance speeches. I only wish it had been more of a surprise.
Speaking of, Meryl Streep certainly looked surprised when her name was announced as Best Actress. With such a strong year for women (if you haven’t seen Michelle Williams’s portrayal of Marilyn Monroe do it), I was surprised at Streep’s win. Apart from that – and for the lovely moment of Christopher Plummer receiving Best Supporting Actor – the Academy Awards were ho-hum. And that seems to be an increasing trend.
Glamor? Style? Those were rather absent. Even the “stars” themselves sounded bored and weary with the event. What once used to be a gorgeous display of Hollywood glamor has dimmed to a tired parade of obligatory designwear. Maybe that reflects our current cultural mood. I can’t imagine too many people wanting to see gowns and jewelry worth thousands upon thousands of dollars in the current economy.
Fatigue and weariness seem apt descriptors of last night’s affair. Billy Crystal – bless – did well enough for a last-minute host replacement. Yet his humor was too forced, too stilted. Presenters tried too hard, appeared strangely disconnected, or displayed ghastly fashion sense.
The whole show felt vaguely empty. Old. A prior generation’s Academy Awards. Isn’t this an industry that celebrates innovation and progress? Isn’t film a constant project to depict humanity and narrative in new and unexplored ways on screen? Judging by last night’s ceremony, Hollywood is more in love with its history than interested in its future. It can’t seem to recreate itself in an era that desperately needs it to in order to remain relevant and worth watching.
Did you watch the Academy Awards? What did you think?
Sidenote: Due to unforeseen personal and work circumstances, the “launch” of my new website has been postponed for a couple weeks. You’ll be the first to know as soon as it’s ready.