Let me finish tonight with why I really liked last night’s Oscars: I liked the way it respected both the present and the past.
Argo won because people who went to see it at the movies applauded like mad at its ending. That never happens, but it happened this time. I believe it’s because it showed the kind of foreign policy event we miss today: it was about winning. It was about doing it non-violently. It was about cooperating with another country. It was about getting the heck out of one of those countries—Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria—we get stuck in and can’t seem to ever get out.
I believe the Academy Awards are America’s other mood ring. Presidential elections are the first. The beauty of last night’s awards show is that it tells you so much and in so many different ways about us. One thing it told me was that America is hungry for a winner.
Movies are always about today. It can be a period piece but it’s really about the times we’re living in. Look at M*A*S*H. It was supposed to be about Korea, but we all knew it was about Vietnam. All those swords and sandals movies of the 1950s with their focus on slavery and repression were really about Jim Crow. And Lincoln wasn’t about something that happened in 1865; it was about how politics, practiced for a good purpose, can really get something done—something historic, even glorious—and that we ought to take a lesson from that.
By the way, put me down as a Seth MacFarlane fan. I know there were some things I would have cut from his lines last night, but this guy reminds me of the old days of Bob Hope and Johnny Carson. He brought back “the show business” to the Academy Awards and, in a good way, set up the really powerful moments: Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger” 50 years later, that great production number from Les Mis and, of course, my friend Barbra Streisand paying lovely and poignant tribute to that great, lovable man Marvin Hamlisch.
And finally, you know I liked Jennifer Lawrence winning for best actress—’cause she really is!