America and the Oscars

I suspect many of you watched the Academy Awards show Sunday night – all four-hours worth – closer to eight if you count the Red Carpet warm-up.

Many of us think that art imitates life and that the kind of movies nominated for the Oscar represent us – American writ large.

That’s why I found this article “America as Told by the Oscars,” so riveting and eye-opening. It spoke to me, and I think it will speak to you. Here is part of what the writer said:

“For years, the Academy Awards reliably recognized movies that attempted to capture the sweep of the American idea — in earnest films like “Forrest Gump” and “Saving Private Ryan” as well as more scorching efforts like “There Will Be Blood” — that seemed to want to define the country, and its people, all at once. If you wanted a shot at a best-picture Oscar in that era, an ambitious statement film that tried to tell Americans who they really are was a good bet.”

“The narrow, personal focus of this year’s top Oscar nominees suggests how tough it may be for Americans, or Hollywood, to settle on a single unifying vision of what America means, or what it means to be an American. It may never again be possible for one movie to fully answer those questions. More likely, it never was.”

“Yet this year’s best-picture crop may have provided an answer — in the notion that there is no one American story, but a variety of specific and unique American stories, and in the idea that America is a nation of both individualism and pluralism. You might think of the movies in the best-picture category as a kind of expanded cinematic universe — not of superheroes, but of ordinary, extraordinary lives, overlapping and intersecting in a sprawling national epic too big for any one film.”

“Of course, that means the task is more difficult for moviegoers as well: If you really want to find out what America looks like, you have to watch all of them.”

You can read this fascinating article here.