I have this memory: Me, biking down an alley. What am I, like 8 years old? It’s April in Texas, and I am praying for snow. I don’t EVER pray for anything, but I am praying for snow, angling with God for a little cold snap. I need a Snow Day, man. I need an excuse to stay up late, man. Come on, man. And why I am so desperate? One reason: the Oscars.
Since then I’ve heard a hundred stories of Oscar obsession. Here’s one I love: a family of four young girls who would actually dress up for the event, sitting on the couch in their best costume jewelry and gowns that swallowed their childish frames. One of my own favorite Oscar evenings was spent at a party hosted by my sports-fanatic friends Lisa and Craig, who had spreadsheets and complicated betting systems and a terrific spinach-cream cheese dip. The wagering was appropriate, because the Oscars is the brilliant intersection of arts and competitive sports. (What do they call it? The Superbowl of the Stars.) Since it imposes a winner-take-all form onto something that is hideously subjective, the Oscars will forever be maddening, wrong, prey to the influence of politics and marketing. It’s ridiculous, really. And I love it.
But it isn’t just the Oscars that I love. It’s the whole goddamned process. Yesterday the nominees were announced. Am I surprised? I am not. Am I disappointed? Eh. I have questions. For instance: Where is The Good Girl? Why is “Chicago” – a fun and trampy film transfer of a popular Broadway play – any appreciably better than “Spiderman,” a fun and campy adaptation of a popular comic book? Why is Julianne Moore a supporting actress in The Hours, when she has just as much screen time as Nicole Kidman? Does it all go back to marketing? It couldn’t. If nominations were proportional to money spent on pushing a film, Road to Perdition would have swept the whole stupid thing.
What’s nice is that now I have an imperative to catch a handful of films before they leave the theatre: The Pianist, About Schmidt, Frida. And I have till April to plan what I’m going to wear.