Is there anyone who can wear a tux like Ellen? Rhetorical question and full disclosure: When I wrote about the weapons of mass distraction, I considered negging out of the Academy Awards, as you may not remember. I turned NEGative attitude into positive action by applying the Power of No. Sounds good. Well, not this time. Placing my thumb on Hollywood, darling of American culture, once a year proves irresistible. What a trip - witnessing the pervasive weirdness of the stars we often admire (and more often mistake) for the roles they play and the fantasies they trigger with their great artificial beauty. How hard can it be to deliver a simple text, like: "These are the nominees for best this or that..." No matter how many years, how many coaches, how many rehearsals -- the beautiful people suddenly labor like school kids at the blackboard.
And this comédie humaine only thickens when acceptance speeches have to be made.
A mystery: has some éminence grise condemned the victorious to limit their message to "Thank you, colleagues, thank you, all you gifted losers, thank you, agents/publicists/puppeteers, thank you, mom"? Of course, even in this paucity of ideas there is room for sparks. Jared Leto's intelligent and heartfelt "Thank you, Mom" could have served as a model for all the rest. There was the spark of Lupita Nyong'O -- ecstatic, young and really blown out of her mind by the honor. Alfonso Cuaròn hit the mark with his joke thanking "the wise guys of Warner Brothers." Kate Blanchett charmed by challenging the wisdom of Hollywood's guys: turns out that women's movies do make money. Get that.
Maybe the eternal tedium of thank yous is the Academy's way of keeping the flee circus contained and preventing accidents -- like Best Actor Matthew Mcconaughey's acceptance sermon about God, family and the great necessity of narcissism. What if Scientologists or Mormons started proselytizing up there in front of the millions? What if stars started thanking the plastic surgeons who just rendered them unrecognizable to those millions?
That said, it's too bad that so few glitches enlivened the trot of the evening. More, it's a shame that so few winners used the platform to risk some political opinion. After all, they'd all just been relegated to the waiting bench so that the Russian Games could shine with anti-gay glory: didn't that deserve at least one commentary? Ellen, step up. How could you not? You tried your best to rein in your impulse to be naughty and spice and not just everything nice. That one about spotting a Liza Minelli "impersonator" there in the front section and commenting,"Good job, sir." Well aimed... below the belt. And that little exasperated gig about the dread of having to wait and wait for things to end... right after McConaughey's lengthy sermon? Right on. Some people got it.
But still, not a beep from your gaydar? Buried under the pizzas? Perhaps we'd have heard a beep if the French movie Blue Is the Warmest Color had been nominated for Best Foreign Film -- the scandalous lesbian sex story that carried off several Palmes d'Or at Cannes last year.
Personally, I had no regret about the absence of Blue. Not one. This male fantasy about lesbian sex, ridiculed by lesbian audiences here and abroad, isn't even a good movie. It's a (perhaps unconscious) copycat of a far better and sexier American movie about the same topic, Lisa Cholodenko's High Art.
Nobody noticed. Not one critic remembered the American, woman-directed movie that was better and sexier than its belated French twin. High Art -- from 1998 -- is a piece of art that deserves to be remembered.
Oscar watching is like drawing money from the bank teller: Every time you pull your bundle of twenties from the slot it looks suspiciously thin. You count out the bills, sure something's missing.