My favorite line of the night came when the Mexican-born Alfonso Cuaron thanked “the wise guys of Warner Brothers.” If he hadn’t corrected himself the implication would have been that the WB guys are a little bit shady, a gang of gamblers and connivers and goodfellas, etc. Which probably isn’t too far from the truth. My heart sank when Cuaron restated himself by saying “the wise people of Warner Brothers!” I prefer to think that “wise guys” was a Freudian slip rather than a mis-applied term, but Cuaron, who is absolutely one of the most articulate guys I know in this town (along with Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu), will never cop to this.
“Tonight, there are so many different possibilities. Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: You’re all racists! Now, for our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway!” An HE colleague asks the following: “Does anyone think maybe, just maybe the producers who hired the ‘safe’ Ellen over an edgier choice would really let her tell what is essentially a Chris Rock joke at the top of the show unless they knew 12 Years A Slave was the winner?” Zadan and Meron could be the new Gil Cates (i.e., they want the gig for years and years), and I don’t think they would let her call the Academy racist ‘in quotes’ unless they knew that joke had a happy ending. Of course they have control over her script. The writers included former SNL people and so I’m sure they threw out some even edgier stuff.” My response: You’re presuming that the Price Waterhouse guys share the results with the producers. But you’re right about one thing — that was a Chris Rock joke, and if he had been hosting and told it instead of Ellen it would have gotten a different reaction.
The failure to insert Alain Resnais, who died a day before the Oscar telecast, into the “death reel” was lazy and unconscionable. Resnais was/is a major, major figure in 20th Century cinema. His influence was/is equal to that of Jean-Luc Godard, Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, John Ford, Ernst Lubitsch, Francois Truffaut and Samuel Fuller. You’re not going to convince me that Craig Zadan and Neil Meron couldn’t slip him in at the last minute, not with today’s easy-fix digital technology. And yet they tributed people that no one outside narrow industry circles has heard of (i.e., Jim Kelly, Mickey Moore, Charles Campbell).
Ellen DeGeneres was a warm, relaxed and confident host, and she kept things real and informal. Ordering pizza and the group selfie took the formal chilliness out of things.
Both Matthew McConaughey and Darlene Love attributed their wins last night at least partly to the guidance of God. Love was a little more emphatic, seemingly saying that God had actually intervened in her favor. Theological debates are always a waste of time, but I nonetheless find it astonishing in this day and age that intelligent, highly talented adults actually believe on some level that a cosmic super-force is (a) aware of their earthly plight and (b) has taken a rooting interest in their struggle. Like everyone else I believe in karma on some level, and I definitely don’t think you can scheme or connive or Kevin Spacey-in-House of Cards your way to happiness and fulfillment. But the McConaughey-Love theology suggests that God helps out when something important is at stake, and so if American Idol blows you off or you lose your job or your home or you’re murdered or holocaust-ed to death, on some level God felt that you needed to suffer or be exterminated as a lesson on your earthly journey. Earth to McConaughey/Love: He/She/It is not aware of or involved in your life. You and your loved ones and others on your team (lawyer, doctor, business partners, co-workers) are. I say “Go with God” as much as the next guy but you’re on your own, guys.
The appearances of Kim Novak and Goldie Hawn dealt a blow to the plastic surgery industry last night, and particularly to the idea of injections and implants. Nobody likes under-eye bags or neck wattles, but you have to go subtle.
During a recent Gold Derby podcast with Tom O’Neil, Michael Musto wondered aloud if American Hustle would be the new Color Purple — many nominations but zero wins on Oscar night. He turned out to be right. Apart from my passion for Amy Adams‘ performance (which I felt was more layered and tingly than Cate Blanchett‘s), my feelings about American Hustle were muted. It was clearly Best Picture-favored by a lot of people (Pete Hammond recently wrote that below-the-line types seemed to like it especially) but I felt all along that it wasn’t as vital or clear of purpose as David O. Russell‘s previous two films, em>The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook. Did it get a long of Best Picture votes? Was the split (which we’ll never know for sure) 30% for Slave, 29% for Gravity, 28% for Hustle and the rest for Wolf of Wall Street, Her and Philomena? Either way I owe Glenn Kenny $50 bucks.