The Oscars are behind us and as the season recedes in time’s rearview mirror, your Carpetbagger (the moniker’s a riff on the red carpet, by the way) is finding that writing anything else on the awards grows ever more difficult.
But you know, it was a pretty interesting season.
Sure, a bunch of us forecast incorrectlythat “The Revenant” would win the Oscar for best picture, but (a) in our defense, no one knew with certainty who would win because the big precursors awards went to three different movies and (b) they’re only movie awards, kids. A lot of us were delighted to have been proven wrong, and not just because it was a treat to feel surprised. “Spotlight,” a quiet, devastating film that won hearts, showed that good intentions can also pave the road to a big fat Hollywood win.
As several prognosticators noted Monday, the odds were certainly stacked against “Spotlight.” It was seen to have a lock in only one other Oscar category, best screenplay, and the last time a film won best picture after picking up only one other Oscar was 1952, when Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth” won. The movie history encyclopedist Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter also noted that on the four other occasions when the big industry guilds chose three different best pictures, the screen actors’ picks never went on to win the Oscar — at least until Sunday.
The other big surprise of the night was Sylvester Stallone’s not winning best supporting actor, though, looking back, his campaign narrative — “what a comeback!” — obscured stark realities. The Screen Actors Guild had not nominated Mr. Stallone, he has made a slew of bad movies, and “Creed” was the seventh Rocky film: the academy is not big on franchises. But what a run he had, as he’s been the first to admit.
In the end, the most significant thing to come out of the season was the return of #OscarsSoWhite, which put Hollywood’s racially biased ways under the microscope and foisted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences into the hot seat. It’s hard to imagine anything more explosive in America than race and the country’s inability to come to grips with its original sin. And while it’s debatable whether the Oscars and the awards season are the forums to try to hash all of this out, they did provide great platforms.
Besides, Hollywood is what America created in lieu of royalty, and it’s not something its countrymen want to abolish anytime soon. Why not get a little bit of representational democracy happening now? Here’s hoping that conversation results in far more than lip service. And, on that note, see you on the carpet when this all kicks back into gear nine months hence