The Oscars are two days away, and somehow the media has managed to turn its attention away from Anna Nicole Smith long enough to realize (perhaps fleetingly) that art actually trumps dead celebrity floozies from time to time. Don’t get me wrong; I think Smith’s fate is a sad one, and I feel for her young daughter… but after being bombarded for more than a week with urgent television reports about Smith’s favorite flavor of lip gloss and other burning issues, I can finally say that I do not give one iota of a rat’s ass.
Of course, it’s foolish to state that the Academy Awards have any more pretense of being about art than the avalanche of lite-news reports being spoon-fed to us hourly by a media that’s long since stopped pretending to even be interested in an outdated concept like journalistic integrity. Far more concerned with box-office returns than rewarding personal artistic expression, the Oscars today are a catwalk of image and fashion, with a handful of movies served up as “worthy,” voted on by a membership board that often doesn’t bother to watch the DVD screeners they receive of the nominees. Now that’s a recommendation you can trust.
Nonetheless, watching the Oscars is, for me, an annual running of the cinematic gauntlet — a barrage of mediocrity to be endured, if only so I can loft my own “correct” picks above the more crowd-pleasing fare the Academy will shortly be insisting that I (and you) watch instead.
The difference? I actually care.
I care, for instance, that Ben Affleck’s amazing career-reviving turn as George Reeves in Hollywoodland has been completely ignored by the Academy, despite being praised in nearly every review of the film, even those reviews which were unimpressed with the movie as a whole. Despite the fact that it’s not only Affleck’s best work to date, but that it was shot after the general public and the entertainment industry crucified him for the twin failures of Jersey Girl and Gigli.
The reason for his sudden rejection? Seems he had a nasty habit of sticking his penis inside Jennifer Lopez a few years ago.
Whatever. But don’t let the fact that the Academy couldn’t care less about this under-appreciated film stop you from seeing it. Shot with a muted color pallette that effectively captures the flavor and atmosphere of 1950s Los Angeles, this movie offers plenty of theories but no pat, easy answers in the unsolved murder case of TV’s original Superman. Hollywoodland is a haunting, sad exploration of the price of fame in a business that never forgets.
No wonder the Academy didn’t want to honor it.