According to Kim Masters at Slate, Oscar malaise is such that a few Academy members couldn’t be bothered to vote on everything:
The field seems to have left a number of academy voters feeling dispirited. One director said he stared at the ballot and considered leaving the best picture category blank. Then he gave Clint a tribute vote. A publicist told us he did not check favorites in a couple of major categories for the first time in his years of voting. "I just said, ‘Fuck it, I don’t like any of ’em,’ " he explained.
This time last year, there was a sense of Good vs. Evil to the Best Picture race, even if much of the serious film community’s dislike of "Crash" only seriously ramped up as its Oscar prospects did. This year, it seems impossible to come up with a way to make the Oscar seem anywhere as interesting and relevant as Hollywood would like it to be. Here are some of the latest angles of coverage:
Jim Schembri at The Age writes that this is a year of controversy and diversity:
The films are permeated by foreign tongues, foreign talent and issues that play out on a global stage rather than a predominantly American one. With easily the most culturally diverse line-up of films in its history, Oscar’s central message is that the one truly international language is not English but the medium of cinema itself.
James Adams at The Globe and Mail notes that, in order to shape up the generally draggy telecasts, the academy is mandating that acceptance speeches be "interesting and memorable":
If a winner "pulls out a list and starts to read it," that’s pretty much a guarantee that he or she is going to be cut off right away, an Oscar spokesperson said yesterday.
At the Guardian‘s blog, David Thomson runs the numbers and reminds us of how silly it is to attach much importance to the votings of the Academy, while Xan Brooks writes that neither he nor the Academy seem to know how to deal with docu-dramas.
At the LA Times, Patrick Goldstein divides the industry up into Oscar "winners" and "losers" and baits Oscar bloggers by sneering that "You’d think after the millions of words they wrote pontificating about the Oscars they could’ve come up with a better pick for best picture winner than ‘Dreamgirls.’"
At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir surveys both the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary Feature categories, noting that "For the first time in my memory, both categories this year are completely not embarrassing."
Finally, Charles McNulty (who, the Guardian primly notes, is an American) claims that theatrical training is what distinguishes British actors from American ones and makes them so much more awesome and Oscar-friendly:
[I]t’s hard not to marvel at the virtuosic command of speech; the way Dench, Mirren and O’Toole make music out of spoken thought. Steeped in Shakespeare and a culture committed to live performance, they have by necessity developed their physical instruments and, in particular, that region of the body that lies between the back of the throat and the tip of the tongue.
Such redolent actorishness is also a reassuring reminder that acting can be a craft after all and not just the accomplishment of being very attractive while reciting dialogue, preferably with a modicum of inflection. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter â€” hell, it’s half the reason films were invented.
+ None of the Above (Slate)
+ Oscar’s got issues (The Age)
+ Oscars hope hot topics spice up tired telecast (Globe and Mail)
+ Why we shouldn’t take the Oscars too seriously (Guardian Film Blog)
+ No Oscars for the docu-drama (Guardian Film Blog)
+ WINNERS & LOSERS (LA Times)
+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Why the best actors are British (Guardian)