Did any of y’all watch the Oscars ceremony last night? I didn’t, and even if I had TV access to it, I wouldn’t have. I just don’t care about movies anymore. It’s so strange, because I used to be a movie critic, and the Academy Awards were a big deal to me. At some point after I changed jobs, I’m not sure when, I slowly began to lose interest in the movies. I’m sure a lot of it was my personal tastes changing, but I suspect it’s because, to quote a certain Hollywood great, “it’s the pictures that got small.” (Reader Brian From Brooklyn, that one’s for you.)
Where was Brad Pitt? Where was Tom Cruise? Where was Will Smith? Where was Jennifer Lawrence? Where was Ryan Gosling? Where were George, Denzel, Reese, Leonardo, and Sandra? Where was the glamour? Where was the magic?
Without a host, the 91st Academy Awards ceremony seemed to move much faster than usual (although it clocked in at a lumbering three hours and 17 minutes). A relatively zippy procession of awardees marched forth to collect their bling. Yet the stardust that once defined the evening is almost completely gone.
For the first time ever, all of the acting Oscars went to character actors, four people the average American would not recognize if they were waiting in line ahead of you at the DMV. Sorry, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but your bid to regain a high place in American culture is failing. No one tunes in to the Oscars to get swept away by a Mahershala Ali win, or Olivia Colman, or Rami Malek, or Regina King. All four are talented performers, but the Oscars have always been keen to balance meritocracy with star worship. Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock are not great actresses, but they won their Oscars for Erin Brockovich and The Blind Side because it was their turn, and it was their turn because each of them had charmed us oncreen for many years. If the Oscars forsake glamour and magic — if they lose interest in that mystical quality that movie stars have but mere actors do not — they risk becoming the Independent Spirit Awards. Which are broadcast to an audience of tens on IFC.
Smith says the onstage duet between Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, singing a number from their version of A Star Is Born, was “the only time all evening that produced a shiver of movie magic.” It was quite a shiver, though. Please watch the clip. A Star Is Born is one of the few movies I saw last year in a theater. It was a really good movie, a fine old-style Hollywood drama. I can’t say that it deserved to win Best Picture, because Bohemian Rhapsody (entertaining, but not great) and Vice (not good, though Christian Bale’s performance was outstanding) were the only two of of its seven competitors that I saw. Still, watching A Star Is Born was the first time I’d felt like I’d really and truly been to the movies in ages, and I was sorry that it only took home a single Oscar (Gaga’s, for Best Original Song).
Anyway, if you watched the Oscars, what did you think? If you didn’t watch them, why not? Do you go to the movies?