And what of the movies? Movies, we will be told, are some kind of magic. They have the power to make us laugh and cry, to move mountains, to tear us apart, make the birds suddenly appear, and possibly made you fall in love with someone you shouldn't have fallen in love with. Someone always gives this speech, usually somebody completely unsuitable like Tom Cruise or Arnold Schwarzenegger who ham it up with fervent gravitas and receive a warm, bubbly round of applause from an audience who have most likely, at some point in their careers, taken the money and ran. You couldn't get more insincere if you sent a Hallmark E-card featuring a weeping bunny to a war torn family in Iraq, who have no electricity or internet.
And to the nominations:
One year Jonathan Ross, hosting the British live transmission admitted he didn't know what the award for best cinematography was for. Apart from highlighting another reason that this over paid presenter shouldn't be allowed to review films (he also failed to see Little Miss Sunshine when it came out) it shows how studio and star centred the awards are. If it were really about 'movie magic' the top prizes would be for the script writers, cinematographers, sound designers, editors, art directors and only latterly for the best actors, supporting actors etc. But not so, and this is why this year we have the Michael Clayton effect.
Nominated in six of the major categories you would be forgiven for thinking this was a great film. Meh, it was ok. As most critics put it at the time; a great performance from 'gorgeous George' but a rather flawed film. Surely it can't be up there with Casablanca, The Godfather, Annie Hall, Rain Man, Driving Miss Daisy, Braveheart, Titanic and Shakespeare in Love. What the...? Actually when you put it in context like that it's very easy to see how Warner Bros can push their little political thriller onto the Oscar agenda. For mostly this night is about the hustle and bustle of the studios who for the entire year have been campaigning like presidential millionaire candidates to get their piece of money pie that only Oscar can serve up. Feeling depressed yet? You should be, because you're just a pleb. You're not even enough of a nobody to warm the cushions of Tony Gilroy's academy nominated seat when he wants to go for a piss.
So should we care? Yes. Why? Because every now and again something will jump out of the cinema screen and smack us in the eyeball with how good it is. It's not magic, dammit, it's just good art and the Oscars is the world platform which you get to support Team Art and probably watch it sink into obscurity like Scotland in a European qualifiers match. Then best of all, you get to be angry with the most hateable people on the planet; the rich, beautiful and erroneously sincere.
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Marion Coultard (in disagreement with my esteemed colleague below)
Roger Deakins (The Assassination....)
All of which, this year have been responsible for that indescribable feeling, that all encompassing thing, that emotional impulse that lifts you up, makes you walk on air...