Oscars Stick to Script, Avoid Polemics

Oscars Stick to Script, Avoid Polemics

Hollywood took a baby step toward making peace with conservative viewers Sunday night.

No, the Academy Awards’ salute to heroes theme didn’t embrace the U.S. Military as it could have, and Jon Voight wasn’t given an honorary Oscar for decades of acting excellence. Instead, the awards telecast stuck to the basics–Oscar glamour, a host eager to entertain and a litany of personal, profound acceptance speeches.

Now, how hard was that?

It was a far cry from the 2013 show, one capped by an appearance by First Lady Michelle Obama announcing the Best Picture winner. That unnecessary bit of political theater tarnished the whole evening.

Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast was far from perfect, though. Host Ellen DeGeneres gave an uninspired opening monologue. It took forever to see the most noteworthy awards handed out, as per usual. And what name did John Travolta pronounce instead of the talented singer of Let It Go, Idina Menzel?

Perhaps the show’s producers, and by extension the stars themselves, understand the folly of insulting a large chunk of the viewing audience at long last.

The honored films helped rattle the notion that the Oscars only toast movies that critics, not movie goers, embrace. Some years feature Best Picture honorees seen by only a tiny percentage of the American movie going public. Last night’s nominees included a bona fide blockbuster (Gravity) and several films which eclipsed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office (The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle).

The assembled stars still displayed their discomfort with faith in a way the television audience may not soon forget. When Matthew McConaughey won the Best Actor honors for Dallas Buyers Club he thanked God first and foremost. A hush came over the auditorium, as if he had said something offensive or controversial. Artists have been thanking God at award events for decades, yet the crowd wasn’t tolerant enough to appreciate one winner’s spontaneous burst of faith.

Baby steps, indeed.