I say it year after year, but I think I'm finally done with the Oscars. I know, it'll never really happen. Not only because I write about movies professionally and the Academy Awards are a necessary part of this job but also for the same reason that I'll never quit messing with that scab on my arm or slowing down to stare at highway accidents. I may be a film cynic, but I'm also a film masochist, and some of why I keep watching the Oscars is just part of my addiction to the pain of being a cinephile in the 21st century.
Of course, it's also part of the tradition. Like all of you, I grew up an Oscar zealot. I tuned in annually as if it were a yearly religious event, like midnight mass at Christmas or something. And I can't pull on the perspective cloak or go back in time to determine if the ceremony has truly gotten worse or if I'm simply less tolerant of decisions made by both the Academy and the telecast's producers in my old age. But I will say this much: to me, at this moment in my life, I do believe the marginalization of the deceased who didn't receive a lengthy tribute as did John Hughes is far more despicable than Rob Lowe grinding with Snow White 21 years ago.
I'm not quite sure why Hughes received or deserved such an exclusive deal, especially in a year when the Academy decided to hand out the annual honorary Oscars separately from the main event (though the telecast awkwardly allowed time for Lauren Bacall and Roger Corman to stand and be applauded). Maybe because he's considered more popular to TV viewers than, say, Eric Rohmer? Or, was it because he never received the same past acknowledgments from the Academy that people like Rohmer, Jennifer Jones, Ken Annakin and Karl Malden did? Well, what about the other lost-way-too-soon In Memoriam honorees, Natasha Richardson and Brittany Murphy?
The Hughes tribute wasn't my least favorite thing about last night's ceremony (that might have actually been the terrible camera work and direction of the show -- when Tyler Perry has a scripted bit involving shots, it might be wise to actually coordinate this correctly, and who thinks those over-the-stage shots or from-behind-Meryl-Streep's-neck shots were a good idea?). But it was a big part of what I think is wrong with the Oscars' continued attempt to cater to the mainstream, especially the youth audience. Attempting a horror montage? Showing an extensive sound editing explanation employing infamous Oscar snub The Dark Knight? Getting people to breakdance to film scores? Did the kids, even those who are fans of America's Best Dance Crew, even appreciate that?
I don't even want to pretend I'm the ceremony's producer and attempt to think of improvements for the Oscars. At the end of the show, no matter what it looks like, I'm going to be as depressed as I was last night. I just haven't been that excited about who wins what awards, in any category, for years. I just don't care what the Academy considers to be the best picture or best director or best actors and actresses, regardless of the reasons why these people win over others. I love movies. I always will. But the Academy Awards make me hate them, at least for a few hours. The Oscars are not a celebration of cinema; they're a party of neglect. They're as much a mindless -- and sometimes offensive -- fluff spectacle as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
It's not ironic that Sandra Bullock won awards this past weekend for Worst Actress and Best Actress. The line between the Razzies (which named the Transformers movie Worst Film) and the Oscars are more and more blurred each year. Except that the Academy will continue to think of itself as an important institution. But it isn't. It's more of a joke than the Razzies, in my opinion. And because of this, though I'll most likely physically tune in to the ceremony next year for whatever further pandering and negligence is involved, I'm at least spiritually done with the Oscars for good.