Oscar Hangover

Gawande and Williams

Oscar Hangover

Gawande and Williams

Oscar Hangover
An email conversation about the news of the day.
March 22 1999 10:24 AM

Gawande and Williams

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Yes, well, thanks for letting me lie in.

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Even so, I remain addled by lack of sleep and troubled by self-loathing for once again having sat sluglike in front of the Oscars for all those pointless hours. And yet who would have missed Whoopi's last words? Thanks so much, girl, for giving the billion-person worldwide viewing audience permission to make movies. I'm sure Eisenstein, Renoir, Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini, and so on were all really hobbled by the lack of your imprimatur. Hollywood's self- absorption has no bounds. Earlier in evening, before the necro-clips (Sinatra, Kubrick, cowboys, and the year's also-dieds) had become truly numbing, I was struck by the Private Ryan sound man's congratulating himself for informing "a whole generation that had no experience of war." And what generation would that be, I wonder? Not the one that grew up recently in the Balkans, the Middle East, North, East, West, or Central Africa, Timor, Central America ... I thought it ironic, anyway, that Private Ryan won for sound, seeing that the dialogue in the latter part of the movie was sometimes so close to inaudible. Remember when we went to see it? During the penultimate scene, when a dying Tom Hanks was telling Private Ryan to "Earn it," the woman behind us in the cinema turned to her date and whispered urgently, "Did he just say his name's Ernest?"

Too bad Spielberg just didn't cut the thing right down to the first 20 minutes and put it up for best short film. That would have been a real achievement in editing.

Atul Gawande has written about medicine for The New Yorker and Slate, is a surgical resident in Boston, and is a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. Marjorie Williams is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.