Slate Does the Oscars
A running roundup of this year's coverage.
"Ad Report Card: Pepsi's Britney Exposure," by Rob Walker
"The advertising during the Academy Awards hardly generates the sort of buzz that spots during the Super Bowl get. But this year there was one much-hyped premiere: Britney Spears shilling for Pepsi. … [T]he new maneuver this time is to actually dwell on the disturbing spectacle of a nation unable to look away from its favorite milquetoast Lolita."
"Wilson the Volleyball, Reconsidered," by James Surowiecki"Wilson is important to Hanks not as someone who will listen to him or pay attention to him (however silently). Wilson is important to Hanks as someone who relies on him, who, in some sense, needs him."
"Summary Judgment: An Oscar Night With Class," by Yael Schacher"Critics insist the ceremonies had more class than those of recent years. Notably classic elements: the grand, epic winner, Gladiator, for best picture; the 'old fashioned, '50s' glamour gowns; performances by Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman; the dryly witty Steve Martin."
"The Artist as Critic," by Michael Brus Ed Harris' Pollock, the art biopic nominated for two Oscars, has received a mildly favorable reception by the critics. Except for two, that is. The Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert awarded it four stars, his highest rating and called it a "confident, insightful" narrative about an artist's life. And while the New Republic's Stanley Kauffmann acknowledges the film as "creditable" and "generally intelligent," he pronounces the entire genre of art biopics worthless.
"The Sound of Music," by Adam Baer
"The music from Crouching Tiger should win Best Original Score by a mile. Crouching Tiger's score is an expert fusion that—thanks in no small part to Yo-Yo Ma's deft cello-playing—spins one memorable musical thread with pitch-bending flavor into a dreamlike pattern."
"The Breakfast Table"
"Oscar night approaches. Are you excited? A part of me is, just as I can't seem to shed the childish excitement of going to a movie after all these years." Essayist Phillip Lopate and Geoffrey O'Brien, the editor in chief of the Library of America, talk about their favorite films—Oscar nominees and otherwise.
"Hanks? No Thanks," by Erik Lundegaard"On Oscar night I'll have my rooting interests— Crouching Tiger, Ang Lee, Laura Linney, Benicio Del Toro—but, as with last year's World Series, I'll mostly be rooting against. In baseball I'm ABY (Anybody but the Yankees), and when it comes to this year's Academy Awards, I'm ABH (Anybody but Hanks)."
"Erin Go Brockovich," by Franklin Foer"Soderbergh shouldn't win for Traffic, the heavy favorite, but for Erin Brockovich. Traffic is the Ralph Nader of this year's Oscar race: an appealingly radical choice, beloved by Hollywood's intelligentsia, that stuns you with its articulateness and whips you into a frenzy of outrage. That is, until you examine it a little more closely and realize how little it's actually saying."
"Crashing the Oscar Race," by David Edelstein
This year, Slate asked Buck Loughlin, last seen co-hosting the climactic dog competition in Best in Show, to talk with film critic David Edelstein about this year's Oscar race. Click here to read the edited transcript.
"Short List," by Eliza Truitt
"Gladiator, Traffic, Crouching Tiger—if you've been a part of society in the past year, you've heard of all the Oscar-nominated films. But The Periwig-Maker? A Soccer Story? How about My Mother Dreams the Satan's Disciples in New York, one of last year's winners? They're short films, and as such they get short shrift when it comes to national exposure. They make the rounds at festivals, but none attain the exposure of full-length films. The best way to catch short films is to watch them online."
Photograph of Benicio Del Toro, Marcia Gay Harden, Julia Roberts and Russell Crowe by Mike Blake/Reuters.Stills from: Cast Away © 2000 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks; Erin Brockovich courtesy of the Everett Collection; Billy Elliot © 2000 Universal Studios; Chocolat by David Appleby © 2000 Miramax Films; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Chan Kam Chuen © 2000 Sony Pictures Classics; Gladiator courtesy of the Everett Collection; Traffic by Bob Marshak © 2000 USA Films. All rights reserved.