Rhetorically speaking, it’s bad form to begin a piece of writing by confessing one’s helplessness, but there’s nothing I can say about the coming Academy Awards that hasn’t been said so often you’re bored being bored by it. Hollywood bloggers began writing about this year’s Oscars while nursing their hangovers from last year’s, while pro-surveillance right-wing bloggers joined ranks with the pimpled masses to decry the injustice of The Dark Knight’s omission from the major categories. Slumdog Millionaire will win big because the hopeful Third World hero overcomes a system rigged against him in the same way Barack Obama overcame his race and broken home to become president of the United States — which means the days of No Country for Old Men despair are behind us. Also, winning a TV jackpot is about the last pipe dream left as the world economy crumbles.
Speaking of the economy, this magazine canceled our Spotted Pig Oscar-watching party, where in past years I’d hosted the likes of Michael Stipe (well, he’s an owner), Famke Janssen (who gave one of this year’s overlooked great performances, in Turn the River), Eddie Izzard, Michael Cerveris, Liev Schreiber, a guy from The Wire, sundry Broadway and TV stars, Emily Gould, just everyone. So, too, my yearly Oscar e-mail exchange with producer Lynda Obst is on hiatus. Nate Silver reduces it all to equations anyway and will likely beat us all, although I hope he doesn’t, or next he’ll be tapped for equations to replace my reviews.
For the record: If, as expected, Kate Winslet takes home the prize for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, it will be an outrage and a scandal, given that Oscar should have gone to Kate Winslet — but for Revolutionary Road, not the dire The Reader. Let’s admit, for the sake of argument, that RR has its problems, among them that its message — suburbia suffocates the soul — seems beside the point now that suburbs and all they represent are going the way of Lehigh Acres, Florida. (From the New York Times: “Lehigh Acres, like much of Florida and many suburbs nationwide, was born with speculation in its DNA … Signs of trouble were ignored …”) The actors, though, were enthralling, and there’s no rational reason for favoring thick-clumpy-German Kate (has a sexual coming-of-age ever been less sexy?) over pretty-suburban-American-hysteric Kate — unless, as Ricky Gervais averred in Extras, the Holocaust really is the pixie dust that conjures Academy Awards out of the air.
I’ll be psyched to see Hugh Jackman, a spring-heeled song-and-dance man with an unlikely second career as a talon-sprouting super-werewolf. I’ll have a handkerchief ready if they do an extended Paul Newman tribute. (I’ll sprout my own talons if they don’t.) And I’m sure I’ll whoop at the sight of my profilee Michael Shannon, who’ll be in such disti