Life and Laughter
I'd Like to Thank the Academy
Glance over at your mantelpiece or decorative bookshelf. Do you see a large gold statue in the shape of a mummy, gramophone, angel or globe? If not, chances are you're part of the 99.9 percent of Americans who haven't won an entertainment award.
Each year, the glitterati organize self-congratulatory events so the rest of us can appreciate their wonder. The recently-aired Academy Awards marks the end of the "Award Season," which begins with the Tony Awards in June, continues with the Emmys in late July, moves through MTV, SAG, Grocery Clerk Favorites, Airline Movie Awards, etc., guaranteeing everyone almost a full year of celebrity back-patting. This year was no different as the Oscars proved, once again, that narcissism has no limits.
Much like deer or tourist season, Award Season requires specific apparel purchases. This includes $5 million sandals made of unobtanium, evening gowns consisting of tissue paper and ribbon, and diamond necklaces that come with their own security detail. Each actress is determined to find the dress that will show the most cleavage while every actor could show up wearing paper bags and gum wrappers because no one cares what the men wear.
Like everything in Hollywood, the Oscars are all about illusion. Yes, Penny Cruz looked gorgeous in her Dolce & Banana gown, but you don't see the previous two weeks when she only drank grape Kool-Aid mixed with cayenne pepper and Lysol so she could fit into the dress. And James Cameron looked thrilled that has ex-wife beat him out of the best director award, but you just know he went home and cried blue tears.
Meryl Streep was nominated (of course) for her portrayal of knife-wielding chef Julia Child, and I think it was Halle Berry starring as an obese, illiterate, pregnant teenager in Precious. But Sandra Bullock won the best actress award for her portrayal of a nasty executive who forces an NFL player to marry her in The Blind Proposal. And Jeff Bridges won for playing a dysfunctional entertainer--but really, is that acting? Although George Clooney's performance as a Na'vi warrior in Avatar didn't win him an Oscar, his depiction of a grumpy, old, animated man in Up got him a standing ovation.
As always, there were way too many award categories to pay attention to, including "Most photoshopped supporting actress," "Best documentary about a leading actor," "Best make-up artist for a foreign film soundtrack" and "Best original song performed by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin."
I watch the Oscars for three reasons. 1) My husband is obsessed with all things movie. 2) The crazy acceptance speeches (thank you, Elinor Burkett). 3) I truly enjoy movies. Not for the celebrity aspect (like a husband I know) but because I love a good story. Whether it's a novel, a short story, a poem or a motion picture, I'm a sucker for a great plot.
Kudos to Kathryn Bigelow for becoming the first woman to win an Oscar for best director and best picture—and the first woman to ace her ex out of two Oscars. Her award was presented by non-Oscar-winning director Barbra Streisand (whom I'm sure was cross-eyed with jealousy). In a clear sex-role reversal, Bigelow's movie The Hurt Locker depicted the harrowing experiences of a bomb disposal unit in Iraq, while her ex-husband's little film Avatar (maybe you've heard of it) had fanciful creatures, colorful flora and intricate alien hairstyles.
Perhaps you're sad Award Season is over. Well, cheer up. The beautiful people will soon be at it again with the speeches and the sequins and the self-adulation. After all, there are many mantelpieces and decorative bookshelves to fill. At least in Hollywood.