5 Lessons We Learned From Last Night's Oscars
Now that our shared Academy Awards hangover is starting to subside, and the champagne-blunted memory of heaving your novelty Oscar statuette through a window after El Secreto de Sus Ojos' Foreign Language Film win wrecked your pool has come into sharper focus, we can begin to reflect upon last night's events. Though the list of winners played out almost exactly according to the narrative established during the interminable, brain-smoothing awards season (Geoffrey Fletcher's huge Precious adapted screenplay upset being the notable exception), there were still many important lessons to be learned from the ceremony if you just clear your mind, open your heart, and try to really hear what Oscar was gently whispering in your ear in the magical, fizzy moment before that tenth flute of Chandon finally did you in.
Even Two And A Half Billion Dollars Can't Buy You An Oscar
Despite the fact that nearly every human being in the developed world chipped in his or her fifteen-dollar contribution to the Future Of Cinema, Avatar came into Sunday night like a reviled Na'vi Goliath trying to steal the lunch money of The Hurt Locker's plucky David, as the all-time box office champion has thus far outearned your new Best Picture winner $2.5 billion to $21 million. Quite clearly, if your cinematic behemoth eschews excellence in both acting and story in its relentless pursuit of visual supremacy, the financial bar for Oscar has been set even higher; one could almost hear the collective sneer of the Academy as it taunted James Cameron, "Call us when you get to $3 billion, Jimbo. And maybe kick it up to 4-D next time, push yourself a little. You're getting complacent."
Totally Inept Oscar Campaigning Actually Works!
It's hard to argue with results: Even though loose-campaign-cannon Nicolas Chartier had to sacrifice his Oscar tickets, his brilliant plot to woo on-the-fence Academy members by establishing himself as a last-minute obstacle to The Hurt Locker's otherwise suspiciously smooth Road to Oscar paid off. "This guy is totally batshit!," thought befuddled, sympathetic voters, before writing a "1" on Locker's line on the preferential ballot. "Is this maniac trying to sabotage his own movie?" Luckily for Chartier, the media took the bait and ran with the illegal e-mail story, obviating the need for his even more insane Phase II plan, combating late-season charges about the film's lack of military realism by personally detonating an "actual" pipe bomb used in the movie in front of the Kodak Theater.
Even If You Make History By Shattering The Academy's Glass Ceiling, Some Dummy's Going To Play You Off With An Amazingly On-The-Nose, Three-Decades-Old Female Empowerment Ballad
So Kathryn Bigelow wins the first ever Oscar awarded to a female director, and she has to walk off to "I Am Woman," conjuring the image of a control room freak-out in which the telecast producer screamed, "I thought Cameron had it in the bag! Quick, what do we have in iTunes with 'woman' in the title? Anything?" But given how aggressively this year's ceremony tried to lure the youth audience by chumming the waters with fresh tweenbait like Taylor Lautner and Zac Efron, we're probably lucky they didn't celebrate Bigelow with Miley Cyrus's "Supergirl."
There's Always Time For An Interpretive Dance Number, But Not For Best Song Performances
Or, for that matter, the reading of the names of all ten Best Picture challengers at the show's most important moment. (Oscar conspiracy theorists: Tom Hanks has already tweeted his denial that the BP contenders were skipped because the show was running long. They planned to screw everyone right from the beginning!) Though surely disappointed, any hurt the Best Song nominees felt about missing an opportunity to perform in front of a worldwide audience ebbed once they saw the exquisitely choreographed numbers for the Best Score category; the bold decision to represent the old man from Up as a creaky-jointed, dance-happy robot more than justified the controversial decision to boot the musicians from the broadcast.
Meryl Streep Is Taken For Granted
Sandra Bullock is lovely. Just lovely. Great speech! Super great. But did the Academy realize what kind of preparation went into Streep's astounding preparation for her total transformation into Julia Child? The woman -- and she'd never admit it, she's just not the braggy type -- had four vertebrae added to her spine to match the gargantuan Child's imposing stature, an incredibly painful procedure that illustrates her maniacal dedication to dramatic verisimilitude. Streep does this sort of thing with every role (even for a breezy flick like The Devil Wears Prada, she had a chunk of her soul temporarily removed to replicate Anna Wintour's icy death-stare), and still the Academy, inured to her seemingly effortless excellence, shrugs her off with an, "Eh, she'll be back next year," then forces her to sit through a four-hour litany of Vilanch-penned gags about all the losing. Which they've been doing since 1983. If she doesn't win in 2011 -- for anything, digitally insert her in the Twilight movie, we don't care -- we're, um...going to write another appalled blog post next March about getting jobbed for Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love.