For those of you who couldn’t be bothered to sit through 84 hours of the American film industry’s most self-indulgent piece of self-congratulation, Cherwell Film&TV brings you the ‘important’ bits of what you missed…
The sheer masturbation of it is pretty clear in the winner of Best Film over the last two years, two films which celebrate film itself: The Artist (#omghowgreatisfilm?) and Argo (#omghowpoliticalandgreatisfilm?). That Hollywood is an important part of the giant cultural structure which is the Great American Mythology is clear, but the inundation of America-Fuck-Yeah cinema this Awards Season was something to behold: would the Academy celebrate its abolition of slavery? Its CIA heroes? Or the rogue team responsible for the capture of Bin Laden? Argo got the Best Motion Picture award, “a middle option between the tubthumping patriotism of Lincoln and the hot potato juggling of Zero Dark Thirty” (Guardian).
So, all this aside, essentially here’s what you missed: Jennifer Lawrence fell over on her way to the podium, but was still easily the bestest person in the room; Ben Affleck charmed us into almost forgetting the horrors of Jersey Girl; Adele cried. And Seth MacFarlane was a tit, albeit one with quite a decent singing voice.
Actually, Seth MacFarlane was much worse than a tit – his spiel consisted argely of odious fratboy bullshit, from jokes about the Kardashians’ facial hair to a song named ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ (even if it was given a framing device so it seemed to be laughing at itself.) Haven’t we had enough easy jokes about Chris Brown and Rihanna? Are jokes about a nine-year-old getting with George Clooney funny? Was it Gervaisesque? Was it even entertaining?
It was not only distinctly not funny but among the weirdest Oscar ceremonies of all time, a lot of singing and dancing around the point. What the point was remained obscure. There were redeeming moments (Jennifer Hudson and Adele’s performances among them) as well as Daniel Day-Lewis’s acceptance speech (for his third Best Actor Oscar), and Tarantino’s ever-perplexing sense of his own identity somehow enabling him to finish his acceptance speech with a heart-felt “peace out”.
Ceremony aside, other news involves people wearing clothes of various descriptions (the fact that clothing comes in different forms perpetually seeming to astound certain commentators), awards for filmmaking being handed out to people involved in the filmmaking industry, each of whom got up to the podium and said some stuff.
The results are interesting enough, but the ceremony itself seems a real waste of the hours invested. Why not watch the 90-second highlight instead and use the time to actually watch one of the films…or read. Of course the film industry needs critics and awards, but the shows of self-importance and celebration, especially in comparison with awards in other media such as books, is somewhat distasteful.
That said, there was something really human about the multiple thanks given to spouses by this year’s winners: it reminded us that the players in this blindingly sparkling game have lives off the red carpet as well, and maybe even real life feelings outside of the uniformly gushing gratitude of acceptance speeches.
Rather wonderfully, this year a toilet flooded the foyer of the venue minutes before the ceremony was due to start. That and the bottle of Windex (surface cleaner) reportedly provided in the Oscars goodie bag seemed to top off the whole thing with an oddly suitable sense of banality.