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On the air, De Generes made a point of introducing Cheryl Boone Isaacs as the first African-American woman to head up the org, while kudocast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron presumably went out of their way to tap such Oscar dignitaries as Sidney Poitier, Whoopi Goldberg and Viola Davis, as well as two 2014 Razzie recipients — Tyler Perry and Will Smith — to present.Though the choice of “12 Years” makes a clear statement, I believe voters responded to Cate Blanchett’s exceptional performance in “Blue Jasmine” without considering the implications — namely, that there is an audience for “female films with women at the center,” as Blanchett put it at the podium.JUSTIN CHANG: Given the unusually serious tenor of some of this year’s films, I can understand the Academy’s desire to impose some sort of unifying grand theme on the proceedings.But in this case, those hero montages culminated in a post-“In Memoriam” Bette Midler performance of “The Wind Beneath My Wings” that simply felt too calculated to resonate much — and, even worse, a self-glorifying acceptance speech from Matthew Mc Conaughey that struck one of the few truly bum notes of the night.But we can certainly agree, Peter, that the best picture win for “12 Years a Slave,” something we both predicted early and often, is a very satisfying one indeed.That movie in many ways represents the Hollywood system working the way it can at its best and should more often.
Then again, if people actually bother to investigate how all those films were made, which elements were captured physically on the set and which were created in the effects studio, and how the cinematographer and visual effects artists collaborated with each other, it’s actually quite clear that these are still two very distinct disciplines.
And now please welcome our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway …
Though I hope its choices were indeed made from the heart, as opposed to on behalf of an actual agenda, such recognition is especially encouraging in light of the Los Angeles Times investigation that estimated the Academy’s 5,765 active voting members to be 94% white.
We’ve just lived through five months or so of complete Oscar-themed mayhem, and even as we are writing this, I have no doubt that prognosticators are starting to lay out the odds for the 2015 season — a mindless game that involves ranking films that no one at this point has even seen.
And while I’d never suggest that the Oscars aren’t important, they’re certainly not as important, and not important for the same reasons, as many inside and outside the Academy would like us to believe.
Now, since almost all of the nominees and winners are already available on homevideo (with “12 Years a Slave” arriving this week), that Oscar “bump” comes in the form of Netflix queuing, Amazon downloads and, for that handful of us still wedded to hard media, DVD sales.