Given that my computer crashed as I liveblogged the Oscars, I thought I would do a kind of reflections post on the celebrated ceremony. With errands, obligations and assignments (not to mention catching up), I fell behind and feared it might be too late for such a post. When, however, I realized that not only did one of my predictions bear out (that viewership would decline) but learned last night as well that the great Peggy anticipated (some of) my thoughts in her brilliant column,* I decided to post.
To be sure, the Oscars did have their great moments. Robert Altman (a great director despite his looney tune politics) delivered the classiest speech of the evening, eschewing politics and focusing on his craft. Jon Stewart actually showed class as well. And while I didn’t find him particularly funny, he did make one of the best jokes (I have yet heard) about the Vice President’s hunting mishap — and pretty much steered clear of divisive partisan barbs. A number of talented artists won much-deserved honors, including director Ang Lee, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, actress Reese Witherspoon, animated filmmakers Nick Park and Steve Box (Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit), documentary filmmakers Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau (March of the Penguins) and a few others.
But, in many ways, this year was George Clooney’s Oscars. With his three nominations, many entertainment magazines covers featured his smug mug in the run-up to the ceremony. It seems that Clooney’s stock has risen with the Hollywood elite in direct relationship to the decline of his box office receipts. He hasn’t made a genuine hit since 2001 with Ocean’s Eleven. (To be sure, that film’s sequel Ocean’s Twelve didn’t fare all that poorly at the box office.) His remaining great flicks (O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Out of SIght were in the 1990s). And even those movies didn’t do all that well at the box office.
Thus, although Clooney has failed to win the hearts of moviegoers, he has won the affection of moviemakers.