Arts Under Review: Television: The 80th Annual Oscars

It’s hard to determine what, exactly, was wrong with the 80th annual Academy Awards last week. Jon Stewart, reliably funny, was the host. The line-up of movies and actors nominated for the big awards was interesting. The media, a lover of binaries and conflict, cast the year as an epic battle of the year’s critically-approved No Country for Old Men versus There Will Be Blood, with a touch of Juno to lighten the mood. With the end of the television writers’ strike a couple weeks beforehand, the entertainment world seemed thrilled that the Oscars could go on as planned.

And yet, something was lacking. The glitz and the glamour seemed contrived, almost. The show wasn’t compelling, the songs were boring, and the stars seem muted. The American ones at least. The non-American winners, including Marion Cotillard for Best Actress, were emotional , sobbing and emotionalizing their way through their acceptance speeches. Without them, the show would have been as lifeless as Mars.

Juno was the most talked-about film, the cute indie film that might finally break through and win some of the big awards, where Sideways and Little Miss Sunshine failed. It was not to be, of course, as No Country of Old Men seemed to be the overall winner on the night, picking up Best Picture and Best Director among others. All of the major winners seemed to be deserving in their own way, but the show lacked a defining moment like last year, when Martin Scorsese finally won Best Director after decades of nominations with no cigar.

The movie industry today is in a state of flux, as pirating seems to only grow as online sites grow more creative. Ticket revenues seem to be stagnant as television’s increasing budgets and complex shows prevents a renewed creative opposition to the dominance of movies. The Oscars this year may have reflected that—a mood of pessimism in the industry, one clearly without the resources or ideas to continue to make itself relevant in the decades to come.

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