Friday, February 29, 2008

Oscar Recap

Several people have written to me asking me to comment on the Oscar ceremony this year. My opinion is that there is nothing wrong with a dull Oscar telecast that a few wonderful mainstream movies won't solve. In a couple of decades, people are going to look at the movies that have been added to the Best Picture list in the last few years and break into that great musical summary of Aristotle's Categories from Sesame Street: "One of these things, is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong."

The Oscar Best Picture list for generations has been a fairly reliable bell-weather of movies that were excellent in craft and universal in theme, and so caught the attention of the mass, global audience, giving them delight and something to go back to time and time again. A Best Picture film has generally meant something that holds up over time and can be watched and savored over and over again. I've seen Casablanca probably twenty times, for example, and I will never get to the point when I will say, "I'm done with it.". It's just too good. I've seen The Sound of Music until I know every line. And then, A Man for All Seasons and Amadeus, Ben Hur, On The Waterfront, Lawrence of Arabia, Gone With the Wind, My Fair Lady - just off the top of my head. People will be watching these movies forever. And even the Best Pictures that aren't seen a lot these days, like Rebecca, The Best Years of Our Lives, Marty and Gentlemen's Agreement still hold up for the most part.

The question is, who will be watching Crash over and over and over in years to come? Who is even watching it now? [Dry voice] Memorizing every word is much easier in Crash's case as the F-word makes up probably a quarter of the script.

Who today is delighting with warm satisfaction over A Beautiful Mind? Will families ever gather around the TV after dinner to catch a rerun of The Departed or now, No Country for Old Men? Does anybody even remember the name of the main character in Million Dollar Baby?

No, the Academy Awards have almost completed their journey to being as irrelevant to everyday moviegoers as Cannes and the Berlin Film Festival. Even when there are populist movies again, I wonder if in squandering the Oscar brand, by giving the award to tedious, pretentious, or rooted in political zeitgeist movies, people will be able to care about the Oscars again some day.

Anyway, I really don't have much more to add to my impressions of the ceremony than Jan's adept analysis here.

No comments: