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oscars 2014

David Edelstein’s Oscars Opening Salvo

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 02:  General view of atmosphere at the Oscars held at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Well, folks, it ends tonight. And I, for one, am very sorry. I know that we (meaning my media brethren) talk seriously about Oscars four to five months a year, but I could go at least nine. I wish there were public caucuses, even debates. And I don’t know about you, I’m already thinking about 2015, when it seems to me that Amy Adams is a lock. True, I don’t know actually if she’s in anything, but I’d vote for her just based on her losing so many times. Maybe she’ll win tonight, but I doubt it. Cate Blanchett was pretty much a sure shot before she was publicly called out by Dylan Farrow, and it’s hard to imagine she won’t get the sympathy vote, too. Poor dumb actress hit with guilt by association. Of all the crap luck.

We should, of course, be talking about Kiev and not the Oscars, but I’ll defer to my betters. In other news: Alain Resnais has died at 91 and no one was taking the kind of formal chances he did at that or any age. He got better and better. 

Closer to our subject, the Razzies were announced and I find myself outraged. Did I give Movie 43 a good review? No. But I feel kind of bad now that I didn’t cut it more slack. Its makers attempted something unusual: a fast, unpretentious, filthy, scatological comedy with big stars. The movie aims so low it kind of aims high, if you know what I mean. The Razzies need to stop going for low-hanging fruit. I don’t think any of its Worst Actor nominees stank up the screen like Michael Fassbender doing his Richard III number in 12 Years a Slave, but critics reviewed that performance on their knees. 

As for the most suspenseful race, Best Picture, I suspect the three-way race will resolve itself as follows: The two “escapist” movies will cancel each other out and 12 Years will ease in. The Academy is known for its social conscience, even if in the homes of many of its richest members, menial employees are forbidden from speaking unless spoken to and of looking their employers in the eye.

Many times when I think about the Academy awards, I go back to 1983, when two of the smartest and truest mainstream blockbusters were up for Best Picture, E.T. and Tootsie. The winner of course was Gandhi. And happy though I am that the man was briefly a household name in America, the movie was a middlebrow beanbag.

12 Years a Slave isn’t that by a long shot, but it will inspire the same impulse: We, the Academy, wish to present ourselves to the world as people who are not merely against slavery but pro anti-slavery. 

Join me and Bilge Ebiri for more opining at 8:15 here at Vulture, when we will be live-blogging the ceremony together.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/2014 Getty Images