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The Oscars turn it around
The return of joy.
I grew up watching the Oscars, the early 90s Billy Crystal run being my favorite. I have a vivid memory of Steven Soderbergh winning in 2001. His line," this world would be unliveable without art," hit me in the gut. It was the year I was dabbling with film classes in college, slowly realizing my hobby since the 5th grade might be something I should pursue for real.
But, as I got more serious about filmmaking, the awards took a different turn. It became more of a sport to me; I went in wanting a particular film to win, only to be disappointed 99.9% of the time.
But now. Now I just want a good show that makes me want to see movies. I’m less concerned about my favorite thing getting awarded because, ultimately, it’s meaningless. My favorite thing will always be my favorite thing.
I didn’t watch last year’s Oscars live—the first time in ages. I was so turned off by their decision not to broadcast certain categories that I morally couldn’t tune in. I eventually went back and watched some of it and was grossed out by how anti-movie it felt. Removing those categories felt cynical, the “fan favorite” online awards felt sweaty and desperate, and then there was “the slap.”
The joy was gone.
But this year’s Oscars felt different. There was an energy, a momentum to the program. But, more importantly, there was joy. I joked on Twitter that this year’s show seemed like it was made by “people who actually like movies.”
Instead of cutting crafts from the program as they did in 2022, they embraced them. The costumes category had costumes on stage! The cinematography presenters talked about camera technicians! Hell, even the commercials embraced film crews!
Kimmel was funny enough and kept things moving. Although I’d argue his Top Gun Parody was funnier than anything last night, except for maybe Hugh Grant, whose ad-libbed “scrotum” comment reminded us it’s a live show.
Last night was a return to form for the Oscars, a program that has gotten so dour and politically fraught that it forgot the one thing it should be doing: be fun and aspirational.
The Academy’s focus on craftspeople and the joy of movies was felt this year, and “Everything” couldn’t have been a more suitable film to honor. It’s almost like the DNA of that film spilled into the ceremony.
Joy was back.
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