As we were otherwise unoccupied on Sunday night, we turned on the television to watch the 84th Academy Awards. “You’re only two years older than me,” Christopher Plummer crooned to his newly acquired gold statue, “Where have you been all my life?” Mr. Plummer won Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Beginners, giving him the distinction of being the oldest actor to ever win an Oscar. But by the end of the telecast, we’d all aged at least a couple of decades, as did Billy Crystal, who seemed to have peeked inside the Ark of the Covenant right before the broadcast.
The whole night was full of non-surprises. Meryl Streep won. The Artist won. And while Martin Scorsese didn’t exactly win for Hugo, the sound editing was really, really good! Robert Downey, Jr. pretended he was making a documentary about himself, which would have been more amusing had he actually been making a documentary about himself, and Angelina Jolie’s right leg made a special cameo, as did Jennifer Lopez’s nipple, if the Internet is to be believed. (And when is it not?) Before the end of the telecast, Ms. Jolie’s leg had its own Twitter feed. Sample tweets: “Look at me!” “I’m over here!!!!” “Look at meeee!!” If nothing else, it beautifully captures that very special strain of Hollywood narcissism, which can only be described as “MEEEEEE!!!!!!”
Octavia Davis, who may have been the only person involved immune to the dreaded MEEEEEE virus, gave the night’s most moving speech and looked radiant in Tadashi Shoji, while Ms. Streep effectively summarized the entire evening in her speech with, “But … whatever.” Woody Allen won for the first time since Hannah and Her Sisters, and didn’t show up, as always. We were expected to be impressed when Cirque du Soleil did a short “History in Cinema” aerobatic routine, but were dampened by the sight of Mr. Clooney rolling his eyes in the front row. To get his attention these days you can’t be a French-Canadian acrobat or an Italian model. He’s moved on to American wrestlers, which seems like a natural evolutionary sequence of sorts; we’re just not sure in which direction.
And as Mr. Crystal attempted to joke, “nothing can take the sting out of economic problems like watching millionaires collecting gold statues.” And nothing can take the entertainment out of the entertainment industry like doing the same.