1. “Decoding the 2015 Oscars.” Academy Awards: Mark Harris on the Birdman win and what it tells us about Hollywood
“Or don’t do that, because the truth is, the time-capsule approach to Oscar voting is overrated. The Oscars aren’t really about posterity (they’ve never enhanced the long-term reputation of a winner or damaged a loser); they’re about transience, a selfie snapped at the end of a long campaign. And what this selfie said was ’Come on, we’re trying.’ The sing-off between Neil Patrick Harris and Anna Kendrick and Jack Black was, even by the standards of a fairly self-conscious ceremony, very meta. Those two strains of argument—’Let’s celebrate our effort!’ and ’This business is going to hell!’—sat side by side in the house last night, and, of course, the winning movie was the one that cannily embraced both of those views.”
2. “Is It “Weird” to Be Gay?” J. Bryan Lowder on what Graham Moore’s speech really means.
“To be clear, this isn’t about playing a round of ’Oppression Olympics.’ It’s just being realistic about differences in kind. New York-based writer Kevin Joffré put it elegantly on Twitter Monday morning: ’Being gay means more than ‘being weird.’ It means living as if you owe people an explanation for your feelings and your life. Your loved ones can be the biggest burdens in your life. You can be actively otherized every day of your life. That’s what being gay means.’ Others brought more snark to the critique—gay writer and comedian Guy Branum: ’The primary purpose of the gay rights movement is to make it OK for straight white guys to talk about how they got picked on in high school’—but the point is the same. Bullying may suck for everyone, but being a Trekkie or socially awkward or straight edge or whatever just doesn’t have the same weight in that regard as being a sexual minority. For gays, the bully is the entire culture—a culture that often works its way insidiously inside your head—not just a stupid cool kid in third period.”
3. “A Statement of Intentions.” Rumsey Taylor presents The Completist.
“Over the years, I have developed my knowledge, and yet I question how clear I have been in admitting myself into my writing. There are countless films that have frightened, disheartened, or excited me, and I have written about many of them. But my responses are certainly different from yours, and it is this discrepancy that film writing often intends to resolve—to proffer an authoritative response to a film in the interest of securing consensus. In other words, film criticism has both subjective and objective dimensions. It must be informative on matters with which its readers are unfamiliar and diplomatic on those familiar to them. It should be unvarying in its approach or bias, yet it should be open-minded and clear in judgment. It should relay expertise but never condescend. How else may it be genuinely persuasive—or rather, genuinely useful?”
4. “Should We Stay, or Should We Go?” For The New York Times, Virginia Heffernan on what it means to say “let’s get out of here” in the movies.
“This emphasis on staying suits our times: The people writing and watching these movies are all part of an introspective, if not isolationist, culture that’s still licking its wounds after plotless wars and a traumatic recession. Those who choose to stay express a steadfast commitment to a cause, a family or a discipline—or (when it goes wrong) to lethargy, inertia and abstinence from action. Where ’Let’s get out of here’ is all bravado and yang, stay is self-absorbed yin. In this context, the balance of cultural power seems to have shifted from the getting-outta-here rebels who used to tell the squares and schoolmarms to kiss off to the squares and schoolmarms themselves, who just wish everyone would hold on a second and think this thing through.”
5. “Bombast: Lizabeth Scott.” Nick Pinkerton remembers the late actress.
“Scott and [Dick] Powell’s scenes together [in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers] are without exception extraordinary examples of scaled-in acting, from the first flush of flirtation, when she gives a charming discourse on the pleasures of daytime boozing, to the coming-clean and the breakup. (’I’m sorry, Mona…’ ’I rather imagine you are.’) Here, for anyone who cared to see it, was evidence of what Scott could do with the right part and the right director.”
Video of the Day: Season three of House of Cards gets another trailer ahead of its premiere on Friday on Netflix:
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