90th Academy Awards: Banal, conformist and 10,000 miles from reality
6 March 2018
The 90th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night, as one media commentator observed, “passed off without a hitch.” How unfortunate.
No award presenter or recipient spoke “off-message.” No one had anything trenchant to say about American society or culture. Indeed, hardly a word was spoken that might have generated a single critical thought or even a minor controversy. Banality and complacency were very much the order of the day, often wrapped in the language and style of upper-middle-class gender and racial politics. And as a final touch, a filthy, heaping dose of militarism!
At a time when—largely thanks to American government action—the world has moved perilously close to nuclear war, when three individuals in the US possess the same wealth as the bottom half of the populations, when Washington is embroiled in an unprecedented and ferocious political crisis…the official representatives of the film industry, in control of a still powerful medium, thought almost exclusively of themselves and their petty concerns.
Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, a decent, compassionate film, won a number of important awards, including best director and best picture. For his characterization of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman took the best actor award. Frances McDormand received the best actress award for her role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. For the same film, Sam Rockwell collected the best supporting actor honors, and Allison Janney won best supporting actress for I, Tonya.
Oldman, McDormand, Rockwell and Janney are immensely talented, veteran performers, but that is not an endorsement of…