Over the years, I’ve noted that interest in the annual Oscar ceremony generally comes from just two sources. First, when the marketing gets us into theaters to see a movie with a subject or stars that interests us and we end up liking it, we’re more inclined to root for the movie if it ends up with Oscar nominations. Or, the announcement of those nominations encourages us to go out and see movies that we might otherwise have overlooked.
But in the year of COVID, going out to the movies has been a pretty risky proposition, and choosing to watch on a streaming service isn’t the same thing as going to a theater. The fact is we’ve been at home and just want to be entertained and distracted from the reality of death, illness, the pandemic, and the craziest politics in living memory.
To be sure, the movies nominated this year—at least the ones I’ve chosen to watch—demonstrate diversity that has been lacking in the offerings of recent years. Remember #OscarsSoWhite? Even the ones primarily about white folks aren’t about those whose stories are often told. There’s a big gap between Nomadland and Ordinary [Rich] People.
Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, and Fred Hampton may not be one’s cup of tea, and a story about South Korean immigrants may send some looking for popcorn entertainment, likely based on a comic book. A rape revenge movie might be a bit too intense for some, particularly for the rapists and their enablers who live among us. What we see and what we avoid probably says more about us than it does about Hollywood.
With equal parts of hubris and presumption, the producers of this year’s show bet the farm on Chadwick Boseman winning Best Actor posthumously and moved that award to the very end of the ceremony, in defiance of the tradition of giving Best Picture as the final competitive Oscar of the evening.
No doubt such a turn of events would have provided the audience with an emotional, heartfelt finale. But an absent Anthony Hopkins won instead, causing the show to end with perhaps the most anticlimactic moment in Oscar history. I can only imagine the great Glenn Close shaking her head while thinking, “I could have told you not to depend on those academy voters.”
I’m at that stage with Glenn Close where I need someone to tell me what (or who) does this lady have to do to win an Oscar. She created Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, terrorizing Michael Douglas and motivating married men everywhere to keep their peckers in their pants. The American Film Institute lists Alex as one of the greatest movie villains, putting her right up there with Nurse Ratched and the Wicked Witch of the West.
When it was time to make a live action version of 101 Dalmatians, who got to play Cruella de Vil? Glenn Close. Need someone to portray the evil Marquise de Merteuil in Dangerous Liasions? Get Glenn Close. As a reviewer once said, “There is no actor dead or alive as scary as a smiling Glenn Close.”
Ms. Close missed out yet again with her eighth Oscar nomination, having previously lost to the likes of Jessica Lange, Jodie Foster, Cher, and, of course, Meryl Streep, who has been Coke to Ms. Close’s Pepsi for most of the last forty years. This year, in giving the award for which Ms. Close was nominated to an esteemed Korean actress, the Academy has made the “Close, but no Oscar” game international.
Our Glenn had a ringside seat to see Frances McDormand leave one Oscar on her table (for producing Nomadland) to go get another one for Best Actress, scoring two for the evening to go with the two that Ms. McDormand has at home. This proves conclusively that Ms. Close isn’t gifted with telekinesis, as she surely would have locked all those Hollywood insiders in that Union Station venue and gone all Carrie White on the lot of them.
It’s only fitting that, instead of that more dramatic denouement, Ms. Close did make the most of one of the few spontaneous moments of the evening. While she knew in advance that she would be asked about “Da Butt” in a pretty silly Oscar game show bit, what wasn’t scripted was her getting up to actually do “Da Butt.”
Ms. Close, with her talent for shading multiple layers of meaning into her characters, got the last laugh by literally shaking her own shapely butt at all of Hollywood. And that, boys and girls, is what I call a real Oscar moment.