Oscar the grouch

I’m not sure how I survived the Oscars.

Maybe it was the red wine and hilarious curmudgeonly commentary from my father. Twitter also helped—watching my tiny laptop screen light up with a new tweet was often much more entertaining and interesting than watching my TV set. Forty-one million people in the U.S. watched the 2010 Oscars—the largest audience for the awards since 2005—and I have no idea why.

It’s hard for me to articulate just what was wrong with the Academy Awards this year. There was such a lack of energy. Dull, flat jokes by two aging hosts, the lacklustre musical and dance performances and the even more dreary speeches almost made me turn off the television. This year, the Oscars were like an elaborate car crash that I couldn’t look away from. Neither could 41 million other people.

The show did have some lovely and legitimately amusing bits. George Clooney’s soured expression and non-English speaking girlfriend looked like parodies of themselves. The John Hughes tribute was heartfelt and seeing the aging members of the brat pack was both disheartening and entertaining. I was upset at the absence of my high-school crush Andrew McCarthy in the tribute, though I’m almost positive he wasn’t busy. But these minor parts of the show were overshadowed by the bad. James Taylor singing “All My Life”? Really?

Kathryn Bigelow’s Best Director win was also another point of contention, not because it wasn’t well-deserved, but because the only thing people seem to be talking about is the fact the Best Director winner is a woman. They seem to be forgetting her film, The Hurt Locker.

Oscar’s obsession with making history is just plain annoying and the self-congratulatory tone is even worse. Bigelow was only the fourth woman to be nominated for Best Director in the Oscars’ 82-year history. Perhaps a woman might have won much earlier if Oscar made an effort to pay attention to the films women have been making. The Hurt Locker was actually released in 2008—better late than never, I guess.

Before one commercial break, that disembodied voice of the Oscars was quick to point out that “Oscar history” could be made because an African-American man or a woman could win the Best Director award.

Barbara Streisand’s smug face and unnecessary comment upon opening the envelope—“Well, the time has come”— before announcing Bigelow’s name took away from the win. There are hundreds of amazing directors working in film, who also happen to be women, who would rather be regarded as filmmakers than “female filmmakers.” Our hyper self-consciousness and preoccupation with the fact that women, too, are directors, is my problem. Of course women can direct movies. Let’s just accept that and move on. When it was over, I couldn’t help but think the Academy Awards will always give us a snapshot of the American mood, however strange it may be, but never a gripping outlook on what’s happening in the rest of the world of cinema. For that, I guess we’ll have to search on our own.

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