Oscar Shout-Outs

I’m still a bit punchy after enduring the entire Oscar ceremony, but as best I can tell, two of my non-predictive Oscar predictions actually came true: Bret McKenzie picked up Best Song for “Man or Muppet” (The Muppet Movie), and Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim “Hey, it’s the dean on Community” Rash won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants. However, my prediction-within-a-non-prediction on the latter category — that we’d see Aaron Sorkin grinding his teeth and George Clooney looking genuinely (?) happy at the Payne/Faxon/Rash win — only came half-true. (Unless I blinked and missed a Sorkin sighting.)

Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer - Creative Commons (gdcgraphics)

I’ve only read a couple of reviews, but one common theme (in the Washington Post, for example) seems to be discontent that the Oscars — again— turned into a treacly exercise in nostalgia. (Though the “In Memoriam” section, for once, spared us the awful aural spectacle of an actor-heavy audience applauding loudly for their own and only tepidly for editors, writers, et al.) Not only did you have the standard-issue retrospectives and lifetime honors (hard to feel bad about Christopher Plummer finally winning an Academy award at age 82 — just wish it had happened a dozen years ago for his portrayal of Mike Wallace in The Insider), but a silent movie about a supposed golden age of filmmaking won Best Picture.

In light of that critique, it was interesting to wake up to Robert Llizo’s observations on the nostalgic appeal of PBS shows like my beloved Downton Abbey:

We all seek escape from the contingencies of the present, with what we perceive to be prosaic banalities.

We have always been this way. I have heard many say they like “Mad Men” for its portrayal of elegance of the early 1960’s. For many in the 60’s, however, their nostalgic reflections took them back to the 1920’s. It seems we are always quite uneasy about where we are. We seek escape to what we think are “simpler times”, or an age that valued classic elegance, real or imagined.

Deep in our souls, we feel uneasy with our present circumstances, because we sense that this world is fleeting, and we are right….

Our nostalgia is a painful reminder of how fleeting this world is, and we yearn for something permanent, something that will never die.

All of which led him to reflect on the “imposition” at the center of Ash Wednesday worship (about which I blogged last Thursday). But if you’d rather not connect the dots between Lent and the Oscars, and simply desire a few more moments of escapist fun…

For your pleasure – the most commonly thanked people in Oscar acceptance speeches over the last four decades, courtesy of the New York Times Magazine:

  1. The Academy (mentioned 561 times)
  2. The winner’s wife (236)
  3. The film’s director (199)
  4. The film’s cast (157)
  5. God (102)
  6. The winner’s husband (47) (by the way, 77% of the Academy membership is male)
  7. The winner’s agent (38)
  8. The winner’s manager (22)
  9. The writer of the film (14)

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