Retro Glamour, Circa Hollywood
I love the movies, but like great art or literature that is often ignored, reviled, slandered, or forgotten until long after its creators have left the earth, the idea of honoring the best in film will strike anyone who has ever worked in the industry as deeply inauthentic and pathologically insincere; a kind of political Superpac sanctioned by a steady stream of the richest fatcats and most unsavory egomaniacs in filmdom’s history.
Nevertheless, Hollywood’s annual night of self absorption is a wondrous spectacle to behold. I wouldn’t miss it. While the show is always too long, too trite and, woefully, unimaginative, it is not the event we are celebrating. It is the magic that Hollywood inspires, creates and honors. Nowhere else can one experience or relive the thrill of sitting in a darkened theater or a dimly-lit room and feel the tiniest thrill in watching, yet again, Gene Kelly standing atop a street lamp, arms outstretched, crooning to the heavens in Singin’ in the Rain. (I feel sure many of you will question my cinematic tastes in sputtering all over this number from sixty years ago, but seeing a guy swooning and dancing in a downpour caught up in all that wonky ardor takes my breath away.)
Singin’ in the Rain endures to this day as a kind of cinematic inscription on the collective soul of the medium. Interestingly, it wasn’t even nominated in the Best Picture category in 1953. The forgettable Greatest Show on Earth was voted Best Picture that year. Yet, when the American Film Institute issued its first “100 Years…100 Movies” list in 1997, “Singin’ in the Rain” was the highest ranking film that never received a Best Picture nomination.
So, in honor of the Academy Awards with its red-carpet fashion fails, botched acceptance speeches, host misfires, and blitheringly indistinguished picks, we’ll all be there for what promises to be a night of enchantment, embarrassment and just the palest emerald of envy.
Images: Magnum Photos, via Slate