Monday, March 8, 2010

Why I Love The Oscars

by Julia Buckley

I spent last evening watching The Oscars; this is a yearly pastime for my family, and one that I always enjoy. This year's broadcast was, I thought, particularly good. What I like best is not the pageantry and the Old-Hollywood glamor--it's the writing. Not the writing of the introductions, necessarily, although some of those were quite good (especially the Steve Martin/Alec Baldwin exchanges, as well as the Tina Fey/Robert Downey Junior repartee).

No, what I like are the little snippets of the screenplays, and then the acceptance speeches of the writers.

These people are always grateful, humble, even surprised, that the ideas which inspired them enough to write something also inspired their audiences enough to earn them a major award.

How wonderful to see the success stories of people who never imagined they'd stand on a giant stage in a tuxedo or glittering gown--the people who are much more comfortable in front of keyboards or in the landscapes of their own imaginations.

Mark Boal, who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for THE HURT LOCKER (also winner for Best Director and for Best Picture), said something in his acceptance that becomes a recurring theme every year. He said that he spent time in Iraq, came home and thought that he had a good idea for a story. And then, somehow, his path led him to a year full of awards, culminating in his Oscar win.

Perhaps one of the reasons I love watching these moments on the Oscars is that it allows writers' dreams to come true--and all writers know about dreams. The first dream is to make the idea flowering in one's imagination come alive on the page; the second is to have readers appreciate that idea for what it was meant to be.

For some writers, there is a third reward . . . accolades beyond their imaginings. While no writer would expect this or take it for granted, every writer must consider it a dream come true when a work of his or her imagination captures the imagination of the world.

So congratulations to all the writers who were nominated and those who won. And all writers everywhere should be encouraged in their own dreams every time one of those Oscar champions takes to the stage with a beautifully heartfelt and--of course--beautifully written--acceptance speech.

Photo link here.


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

I enjoyed the Oscars too, Julia, and I especially enjoyed your generous take on the proceedings as I'd just read quite a mean-spirited article that was a link on AOL, saying that there was no suspense because "everybody" knew who'd win the big awards (I certainly didn't!) and no momentum because they made too many "minor" awards like makeup and short documentaries part of the program. I actually liked the piece on the nature of short films, which said a lot that could also be said about short stories, in the mystery genre and perhaps in others as well.

Sandra Parshall said...

I thought it was an unusually entertaining and brisk Oscar show this year. And no surprises?? I fully expected Avatar to win everything in sight, and it ended up with what? Three awards? And seeing the best film and the best director actually win is something we don't see all that often. I was very pleased. I think Gaby Sidibe deserved the Best Actress Oscar though.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

I was fine with the best director, but I think Avatar deserved Best Picture--it really took filmmaking to a new level. I wonder if all 6,000 Academy members got to see it in Imax as well as 3D. Nor was The Hurt Locker the kind of picture that becomes beloved and has millions still watching it over and over decades later, like Casablanca. I'm not so sure I'd have noticed it was exceptional if I hadn't been told it was. I loved the script of Up in the Air, and I wish Nora Ephron had gotten a nomination for Julie and Julia. Her writing was brilliant yet completely unobtrusive, so it didn't even register as "writing." I adored Meryl Streep's Julia but was glad Sandra Bullock got her moment of acknowledgment--and it really was her best moment, not an ill-timed token, as sometimes happens. And I was just plain happy to see Jeff Bridges, the song from Crazy Heart, and Up win their awards. The worldwide movie audience IS the collective conscious, in a way that readers, alas, are not. We all resonate to the same stuff (if not always on the same frequency).

Julia Buckley said...

Liz, it's the "minor" awards I like best, because they honor many of the hard-working filmmakers who don't have big budgets, but big ideas.

Sandy, I thought it was entertaining, too, and quite smooth, except for the one rather shocking interruption of a speech by what appeared to be an inebriated woman. Did anyone else find that offensive?

Julia Buckley said...

I agree with most of your assessments, Liz, except that I really did like THE HURT LOCKER and found it to be an important movie for our time--so much there about the way that war fragments lives and, for many, makes it impossible to come home again.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

We found the interruption offensive, and so did a lot of people. I read the explanation the next day: the two co-producers (he also directed) are suing each other over the film and hadn't decided which of them could speak. She later claimed his mother blocked her with a cane when she tried to get out of her seat to go to the stage.

Julia Buckley said...

Wow--that's a sordid tale. How sad that they couldn't compromise. Now their spat is part of Oscar history.