The Oscars haven’t been short since before they were televised, starting in 1953. And though there’s always talk about cutting it down, chopping off the untold fat, they’re somehow always overflowing with time-sucking nonsense. This year wasn’t terribly lean. Jimmy Kimmel did something or other with candy. He had actors read angry tweets sent to them. Later he brought in tenants of a tour bus, there with the clear purpose of ensuring journalists on the East Coast don’t get much sleep that night.
Other times the Academy Awards engaged in another favorite practice: arguing for the relevance of movies. And with good reason: Movies make more money than ever now, but TV is bigger culturally. It’s what we discuss at the water cooler. Most of the nominated films, good or even great (and sometimes bad) as they are, are movies most people see out of obligation, not passion. And of course, there are more pressing matters volleying for our attention these days than how many times you’ve seen “Lion.”
And so we had plenty of chatter about the magic of movies — montages of immigrants talking about their favorite Hollywood films, Seth Rogen talking about “Back to the Future,” Javier Bardem talking about Clint Eastwood’s “The Bridges of Madison County” (which is seriously a great movie). The immigrant one was nice, and a clear push-back against the increasing “America first” nationalism that’s been a-brewin’. But it sometimes felt like an awards show that forgot it was an awards show. Maybe hand out some Oscars?