This year the Oscars, in its 84th year, focused on the idea of why we love the movies. It certainly is a good theme for a show that promotes excellence in mainstream filmmaking. Most people go to the movies to escape, to get away from the problems of their daily lives, and enter a different World. The Oscars succeeded in achieving that nostalgic feeling. The feeling of awe while being at the movies.
The awards certainly reflected that idea. The big winners of the night, The Artist and Hugo, are set during the golden age of cinema. Hugo involves an early pioneer of narrative filmmaking, Georges Mellies, and The Artist is a silent film. Woody Allen won original screenplay. Over 50/50. Oh wait, 50/50 wasn’t nominated. The Academy even chose Billy Crystal to host the show for his ninth time. All of this represents a different time. From silent film showing us the early days of Cinema, to Billy Crystal showing us how to do a good job hosting an awards show. Sorry, Anne Hathaway and James Franco, but having Billy Crystal just stand there was better than anything you did last year.
The show even brought Meryl Streep her third Oscar. The Academy sealed its love for the old when that award was announced. Even Miss Streep was thinking Viola Davis was going to win, judging by the look on her face when her name was announced. Of course, one loves Meryl Streep, history will show us her work is an age of cinema itself. Streep had mentioned that she understood she would never be up on that stage accepting that award again. That is certainly a sign of the times.
While that time may be coming to an end, the Academy does not seem to mind or care. They seem perfectly content with awarding past winners and films that are formulaic, safe, and make money. Except for Best Picture. These days, Best Picture seems to go the film nobody saw. This year it was the silent film that nobody saw. But you should, you most certainly should go see The Artist. Silent films were around when people were struggling through rough economic times and went for an escape. Hey, sounds like today. As a colleague of mine put it: this year, old is gold. Indeed.