Ed’s fanciful daydream yesterday of simply posting an angry-face emoji in place of a prediction article for best director, while droll, gets right to the heart of the frustrations anyone who follows the Oscar race in real time—in other words, the damned. First and foremost among them, those who actually make a living on, to quote Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest, “supplying the grease that makes this shitty movie business work.” In a piece positively dripping with subtweet shade, former Slant contributor Calum Marsh took a look at the role full-time Oscar bloggers play in devaluing the entire enterprise—an enterprise, one hastens to add, built on awarding such enduring classics as Cavalcade, Cimarron, and The Great Ziegfeld.
In Marsh’s profile, Sasha “This Race Is Over” Stone recalls what called her to her current vacation, er, vocation: “I remember the Titanic year. I was so sure Titanic was going to win best picture. Everyone else said no, it’s going to be L.A. Confidential.” That anyone can, with a straight face, claim to have stood alone against the world in support of the most Oscar-nominated, highest-grossing movie ever, with maybe the most demographically all-encompassing audience in our lifetime, only goes to show just how much of an intellectual shell game this whole cottage industry has become.
Marsh follows up Stone’s “eureka!” moment with the observation, “Stone was right, of course. This victory inspired in her the confidence of expertise.” Rarely has there been a defter walk along the line separating reportage from excoriation, at least on this specialized beat. It’s not a journalistic parry we endorse lightly, since we too generate web traffic and the appearance of expertise (albeit a skeptical, outsider’s strain) knocking down Oscar categories—and the Oscars themselves—one by one every awards season. We ludicrously pride ourselves on our ability to consistently beat Jeffrey Wells, though we pathetically still feel the sting of coming that close to nailing 24 out of 24 when, to our immediate discredit, we figured Gravity’s seven other Oscars would be enough to overcome centuries of white guilt.
On that note, who would’ve thought that the triumph of 12 Years a Slave would give so many Oscar voters the chance to absolve themselves of any further obligation toward racial concerns? Ellen DeGeneres recently quipped, “The Oscars are on Sunday because the best way to end Black History Month is to have the whitest Oscars ever.” Ellen DeGeneres, the Oscar host who once vacuumed the ground beneath Meryl Streep’s feet. Even giving the Academy the benefit of the doubt and calling #OscarsSoWhite just one symptom of Hollywood’s pervasive issues with representation, it’s not hard to see why this bird took flight so effortlessly. When millions are spent, and six-figure salaries are earned, fueling the means by which haves can congratulate themselves for having, how can any gesture—be it 12 Years winning or Cheryl Boone Isaacs promising to recruit fresh AMPAS blood—not seem tokenistic?
We could speculate on the meta implications of Oscar’s impending endorsement—in this, of all politically charged years—of a white man’s will to power over natives, the animal kingdom, and the elements themselves, writ in impossibly inflated scope. (Its closest competition? A satire-free Wolf of Wall Street. ’Nuff said.) But since, to be brutally honest, a cat has more business giving this institution the courtesy of serious prognostication, we’ll defer to this Twitter user who argued The Revenant would win because every year ending in the number five produces the worst best pictures.
Will Win: The Revenant
Could Win: The Big Short
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road