Can anyone reasonably claim that the Oscars isn’t a pure parody of itself? I don’t think I know a single person who takes the Oscars seriously anymore. Progressives think it is too conservative. Conservatives think it’s too woke. Casual audiences find it cold and detached. Industry specialists find it blunt and out of touch.
Conservatives hated when Shape of Water won best picture in 2017 and when Moonlight won in 2016. Leftists hated when Green Book won in 2018. Then Parasite won in 2019 and a minority of filmgoers seemed to actually be on the same page that a decent film won best picture. Then Nomadland won the following year and people shrugged again. And lest we forget that Mad Max: Fury Road was snubbed for Spotlight in 2015…
The victory of Coda for Best Picture 2022 at the 94th Academy Awards sealed the reality that this year’s Oscars were just a whimper. 2021 was a year of massive films with big ideas and angry intentions; the leftist paranoia of Power of the Dog and Nightmare Alley, the late-career mastery of West Side Story, and the quiet dignities of Drive My Car and Belfast. Yet Coda won, a perfectly decent little coming-of-age drama. I’d call it Oscar bait but it was a huge success on the awards circuit… its indie bait.
It could’ve been worse. Don’t Look Up could’ve won, and forced us to deal with the unbearable smugness of Adam McKay’s acceptance speech for a fiercely anti-human anti-comedy about why people like him are smart and the masses are easily fooled rubes who deserve the coming apocalypse their elites warned them about. The accelerationist in me almost wishes that film won…
What was left of the night was a strange sense of pandering. Somehow we got homages to Zack Snyder’s Justice League and No Time to Die smuggled in there while Jessica Chasten and Will Smith won performance Oscars for Oscar films nobody saw or particularly liked. The entire performance was riddled with technical glitches and Dune: Part One managed to win half a dozen Oscars offscreen because the committee decided to hand out technical awards during commercial breaks to shorten the show… which didn’t work because the ceremony still came in longer than usual.
And while we’re talking about Will Smith, we can forget that he through an actual punch on live television at Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s hair. In the course of an hour, he went from giving his best performance in ages – punching Chris Rock – to giving his worst performance in ages – pretending to apologize for punching Chris Rock- set against him winning his best actor award.
Honestly, it was the best part of the show. 10/10.
The 94th Academy Awards was pathetic; a shallow whimper of an industry on its last legs that wants to desperately maintain the myth of its own relevance, slowly coming to terms with its vapidness and emptiness. Maybe Marlon Brando and Woody Allen were right for all these years to strategically avoid the Oscars. These awards used to mean something, but even when they did they were an empty pageant.
The Oscars were always meant to be the public face of the industry, evidence that the hedonists and backstabbing creatives and money launderers in Hollywood could clean up and put on a respectable face, and occasionally it had its moments. It meant something when Butterfly McQueen won the first supporting actress Oscar for a black woman with her performance in Gone With the Wind. It meant something with John Wayne one his Oscar for True Grit. Now it has been reduced to a pathetic orgy of empty baby-boomer narcissism, hand wringing, and empty spectacle where the best moment of the night was an actor physically assaulting another actor – which may or may not have been staged.
At least the Will Smith memes are funny…