POSTED February 26 2012

The Story of O(scars)

George Clooney and friend

Don’t jump to conclusions. That picture of George Clooney clutching the statuette? That’s his supporting actor prize for Syriana. Will he win lead actor honors for The Descendants? In the countdown to the 84th Academy Awards, that’s about the only question where the answer isn’t certain. While The Artist is tapped to sweep the event, maybe Clooney, as the husband  tending his comatose wife will edge out the “French George Clooney,” Jean Dujardin, star of The Artist.

What was in the water this year?  So many films about filmmaking and filmmakers. Martin Scorsese’s Hugo celebrates pioneer French filmmaker Georges Melies and considers the  perishability of silent film. Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist honors silent movies and the technological changes that shook Hollywood in 1927 when sound pictures were introduced. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris romantically remembers the City of Light in the 1920s, when future filmmakers Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali bubbled in the creative stew with the likes of Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. My Week with Marilyn looks back at the movies’ golden girl, Miss Monroe.

“A good Oscar narrative makes voters feel that, by writing a name on a ballot, they’re completing a satisfying plot line,” observes Oscarologist and author Mark Harris. So how does The Artist, a $15 million black-and-white silent film from France without a marquee directors or actors come to be a front-runner at the Oscars?

Like the characters in The Artist, Hollywood faces huge technological changes as film is going digital.

If The Artist takes the top prize, it will be the first silent film to win the top prize since Oscar’s first year. In this year that Hollywood contemplates its storied past, is it fair to ask whether its annual night of self-congratulations is still relevant?

Of course, if Clooney doesn’t win a statuette tonight, he can buy one tomorrow.

Guess who the oldest Oscar presenters are tonight?

Join me in the annual Oscar prayer, invoked 60 years ago by emcee Danny Kaye: “The Academy asks that no acceptance speech be longer than the movie itself.”

And tell me who you’d like to see win — and why.



  1. Harold Itzkowitz says:

    Good to see you up and running with this.

  2. Great to see this blog! Carrie Rickey has been for years a fantastic movie critic and a terrific Friend of the Boyd and advocate for the reuse of Philadelphia’s sole surviving premiere motion picture palace, the historic Boyd Theatre.

    I hope in the future that like with “The Help” there will be more movies that gather great box office and are nominated!

    And, I hope the studios will reverse warnings and continue to make available 35mm prints of classic films so we can enjoy them in movie theaters the way they were meant to be shown. A DVD or Blu Ray may look great on your TV but won’t look so great in a movie theater screen, and most of those films have not been placed on 4k (movie screen quality digital).

  3. Jennifer Kotter says:

    brilliant website! great design, everything is here and just in time for OSCAR……..
    congratulations on your brand new cyberspace home!
    more very soon

  4. Joe says:

    The Oscarcast is probably the biggest company picnic ever staged – and just as toxic. Lots of fake fun and self-congratulatory preening. Worse yet, it becomes more predictable every year. So I’ve given up caring about it. Well, to an extent. I want Clooney to win and maybe “Hugo.” “The Artist” is too much of a novelty for me to conside “award worthy.” End of rant. Thanks for listening, Carrie. It’s good to have you back!

  5. Björn Flóki says:

    Of the nominated films, Tree of Life should take it – though it doesn’t stand a chance, of course. I will be kind of upset if Clooney takes best actor. Have you ever seen George Clooney play anyone else besides George Clooney? I feel like charisma is sometimes mistaken for real acting. I think it was Jack Nicholson who said that each actor always brings 80% of their own persona into a role – only the great actor can take that 20% and make it overshadow the 80%. (OK, so very liberally paraphrased here.) Gary Oldman actually transformed himself into another human being in Tinker Tailor, as he always does, but somehow I don’t think he has a chance. The Oscars are a popularity contest.

  6. Carrie, just looking for Oscar posts and there you are, beauty, a page of your own. It’s lovely!!!!
    Go HUGO !!!

  7. John Brumfield says:

    Carrie, Do you think there will be any acknowledgement of the name change of the Kodak Theater (or even the plight of the bankrupt Kodak company) given the long connection twixt Kodak and Hollywood?

  8. Susan Balée says:

    Here’s what I just posted on FB, before reading your query here:

    I hope that Clooney gets it for “The Descendants.” That is his most accomplished acting to date. And I predict “The Artist” for best pic, as that was both original and a crowd-pleaser, something that rarely happens with that category at the Oscars.

    Unlike one of your commenters above, I really think Clooney played a *different* character this time and crossed the Rubicon of his acting career. [Un}luckily, he won’t be a pretty boy for too much longer and his parts will start getting better.

  9. Carrie Rickey says:

    @John: Crystal made several jokes about the theatre, calling it the “Chapter 11 Theatre,” the “Your Name Here Theatre” and the “No-name Theatre.”

  10. Mark Schaffer says:

    Happy blogging. Nikki Finke needs some competiton. Snark only goes so far..Actually, its becoming the new shtick..snark as shtick..I like that.

    Thought they didn’t use Uggie enough..

  11. susan says:

    Carrie and Jennifer, what a splash from the past. Carrie I always knew you were not only dedicated but brilliant and so in love w/the movies. What a great website. I must say I wish Midnight in Paris had won. Loved that movie.

  12. Carol Fritz says:

    Great to see you blogging, Carrie!

    Philadelphia will continue to grow as a filmmaking community as the Hollywood establishment becomes less and less relevant.

    Crystal referred the economics dooming huge productions when he spoke of the telecast as “watching millionaires giving awards to each other.”

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