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    domingo, março 04, 2012

    The Oscars: One Long Orgy of Praise, Praise, Praise


     

    The 84th Academy Awards broadcast was driven by the non-Catholic version of extreme unction—an enormous surge of flattery, gush, and testimonial.

     Now, as the Times recently reported, studio executives don’t seem unduly worried; they will exploit online and video-on-demand distribution and make up revenue that way. The movies are not going out of business (though some of the theatre chains might). But there was still, collectively, in all that talk about theatrical movie-going, a fear that a great communal and solitary experience was in danger of being lost. Industry reporters have all noticed that, except for “The Help,” none of the nine nominees for Best Picture did very well in theatres. “Hugo,” whose budget has been reported at a hundred and fifty million dollars and more, is way, way in the red, and will likely never come out of it. It won five Oscars for craft contributions, but audiences have been resisting Scorsese’s movie from the beginning. “The Artist,” at least so far, has been no great popular hit either. As always, the disjunction, for the Academy members, between what most of them work on all year and what they admire at Oscar time was extreme and perhaps accounts for the queasiness of these evenings. I don’t mean that the Academy is composed of hypocrites, or that their admiration for “The Artist” isn’t sincere. But they can’t keep their houses by making movies like “A Tree of Life” or even “The Descendants,” and they know it. The movie business as it functions all year long and the idealistic tone of Oscar night are only barely conjoined. One is life; the other is guilty aspiration.

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