Let's Talk Oscars
Entry 4: Why oh why would you turn down the opportunity to stage a big catchy Muppet number?
Jason Segel in The Muppets
Dan Kois, Troy Patterson, and Dana Stevens will be on Slate’s Facebook page at 11 a.m. ET on Monday to chat with readers about Sunday’s Oscar ceremony.
Hey, Troy and Dan,
To say, as Troy does, that the Oscars have entered a “decadent phase,” one must believe that there was a moment when they weren’t decadent (both in the sense of luxurious excess and of historical decline)—that there was a golden era of authenticity and quality toward which we blighted moderns yearn. The academy would no doubt like us to hold onto that beautiful fiction as fiercely as Owen Wilson’s nostalgia-addled protagonist clings to his in Midnight in Paris—at least till the 11 o’clock news starts on Sunday night and the great cycle of Oscar life ends and begins again. The three of us won’t be watching the ceremony together (though perhaps our avatars will meet up and party on Twitter), but let’s convene here Monday morning to hash it all out.
In the meantime, to answer a few of Troy’s questions: 1) If Woody Allen showed up to the Oscars to accept the best original screenplay prize he seems likely to win for Midnight in Paris, I wouldn’t be able to offer any opinion on his acceptance speech, because I would have passed out in shock when he took the podium. In his five decades of making movies, Woody has attended the ceremony exactly once, in 2002, when he introduced Nora Ephron’s 9/11 tribute montage of New York City-set movies with four minutes of inspired standup. Allen doesn’t even acknowledge his own Oscar wins in interviews; his aversion to L.A. film culture and all it represents is a founding pillar of his persona. If he shows up on the red carpet just because one of his most popular films ever is a favorite to win an award this year, I’ll have to rethink the boundaries of the known cinematic universe.
As for Bérénice Béjo, the tall drink of water who’s a supporting actress nominee for her role as the indomitable Peppy Miller in The Artist (she’s also married to the director, Michel Hazanavicius), I think you’re right that her co-star Jean Dujardin stands a better chance of getting offers from Hollywood. (He’s already made a hilarious audition tape in which he practices action-movie Eurovillain taglines in a variety of accents.) I suspect this has to do with a depressing thing I read about in a Hilary Swank profile years ago and have unfortunately never forgotten—the kind of meetings at which a group Hollywood power types attempt to establish a consensus on the “fuckability” of various female leads before casting a part. Béjo couldn’t be lovelier, but she’s lanky, almost gawky, with sharp features and a coolly intelligent gaze. You could see her as an Eva Green-style Bond girl maybe, but for most of the roles Hollywood has to offer attractive women her age, Béjo seems somehow insufficiently pliable—she’s too edgy and smart, too French, to inspire unbridled lust in Joe Meathead. I bet she’ll rock something on Oscar night meant to reverse that impression, though.
Finally, a question that’s been gnawing at me: In the absence of performances of the two nominated best songs (a choice on the show producers’ part I simply don’t understand: You have the chance to stage a big catchy Muppet number that will have the whole audience beaming, and you turn it down?), what kind of interstitial entertainment is going to bind all these dry podium speeches together? Are we really expected to last three hours without a single belted power ballad? Is it too much to hope that Miss Piggy will crash the stage at some point with “Soy Bomb” written in Sharpie across her chest and give producer Brian Grazer what for?
See you on the pre-pre-pre red carpet,