Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Hollywood knows no better scenario than “Cowboys and Indians.” This year, however, turned the tables on a scenario so old it seems biblical. The Indians won.

Slumdog Millionaire was chosen Best Picture not only on its own merit, but also because it is one of those rarities that comes down the pike—a production no one has anything against. Consider: Hollywood is a fiercely competitive town. Those most at home on the range root as much against the success of others as for them. No one will lose sleep over a “one-shot” film from India, with no stars, winning. No one against it = Oscar.

In a stunning upset, the odds-on favorite for Best Foreign Film, Israel’s Waltz With Bashir, lost to a memorable but unheralded film from Japan, Departures, in spite of “Waltz’s” creative uniqueness, democratic outspokenness and impressive box-office performance. Consider: both Jews and anti-Zionists would want Waltz With Bashir to win—Jews because it would have been Israel’s first Oscar, and anti-Zionists because it makes Israel look bad in the world’s eyes. But I believe the reverse became operative—Jews, a predominate number of members in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, voted against it because it makes Israel look bad in the world’s eyes, and there weren’t enough anti-Zionists and their sympathizers enrolled in the Academy to make it a winner—consequently a pariah—for Israel. Too many against it = no Oscar.

So, why did the favorite to win Best Actor, Mickey Rourke, lose—and how, under any circumstances, could Best Supporting Actor, Heath Ledger, not win? Consider: The only thing Hollywood loves (and rewards) more than a comeback is a postmortem. Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, the noble gesture must be the distinctive gesture, and the established script calls for only one. This year’s only do-right, feel-good (about ourselves) award went the only place it could go—not to the weathered comeback kid, but to the young actor who tragically couldn’t be present to accept it for a brilliant performance worthy of distinction amid any field of actors. Touchingly and appropriately, the Academy bestowed the honor posthumously on Heath Ledger. Oscar. Amen.


  1. Hey, Ray,

    What I found must pleasurable was how well Slumdog Millionaire (notwithstanding whatever small dissatisfactions I had with it--overly flashy camera work and effects) did against the overnominated Benjamin Button.


  2. I find the Oscars to be an interesting thing. They are an industry award yet the public is expected to be interested in the results. The films that are nominated are, in general, not films that are watched by the general public. The public doesn't understand why films like the Dark Knight or Friday the 13th aren't nominated for best picture and the Academy doesn't understand why the ratings are down for a show that is awarding films that the public doesn't watch. Also, even the academy knows they aren't always awarding the best film or actor, but rather, playing a game of politics.

    Aside from that, the show is unbearable. The fake jokes by the presenters are just awful, the production numbers are often plain bad, and the one thing the people would like to see, the main award winners speak is cut to 30 seconds so that it becomes a rush to say, "Thanks, mom, dad, my director and all the grips."

    Lastly, I thought that Heath Ledgers performance was over rated, as was the film. Then again, as a comic book fan I find that the film is not the Batman I knew and loved.

  3. Hi Ray,
    I am enjoying your blogs. Even though I do not comment each time...I do read all of them. Elaine B

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