“Tonight, enjoy yourselves, because nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires present each other with golden statues.”Billy Crystal



The problems with Oscar have nothing to do with the producers having to bring back Billy Crystal to do the impossible, try to rescue them from irrelevancy. It has to do with leaching the present out of art and looking back, always back.

I liked “The Artist,” with flashes of Gene Kelly seen in Jean Dujardin, something I heartily approve. That it was a silent film about an aging male star saved by a younger, wealthier female star, which I’m not the first to notice, reveals the aging reality of Oscar too.

Martin Scorsese inspired by his daughter to craft “Hugo,” a man past mid-life being influenced by the new generation, in 3D no less, somehow didn’t fit the year.

Harvey Weinstein’s tenacious stewardship of “The Artist” is commendable of what can happen when you get behind a film. While the story is a throwback: a drunk has-been burns his apartment to ashes, but is given another chance at the hands of an adoringly rich female star. Cue the Oscar winning score.

As for “The Help,” I loved the performances. Octavia Spencer, whom I’ve written about before, was wonderful to see win. A person of color is an anomaly at Oscar. But the character white-washing in the film, which ironically makes the movie all about the white women in it, is stunningly surreal.

Oscar night is set in yesterday and it feels like it, especially when you look at the big winners this year: a silent film wins best actor, Streep, a silent film wins best picture, and one black actor playing a mammy in white world. Christopher Plummer is close to the same age as Oscar.

Ms. Streep mentioned that people watching might be saying “her again?”, something many ponder annually, if you know anything about Hollywood, women’s roles, and how younger females become older actors trying to break through and up. The best thing Rooney Mara did for her career was end up on best dressed lists.

That’s why “Saving Face”, unnoticed here but is shattering Pakistan taboos on silence, reveals what films can be and why Oscar would be better off if more were.

Amid an aging male silent film star, a mammy movie and other films that don’t break or challenge anyone, including “Iron Lady”, which prefers the great and horrible Margaret Thatcher in her dementia than at her zenith. Oscar has become a night when “The Grapes of Wrath” power of the movies has disappeared and side shows of aerial feats by dancing acrobats of Cirque de Soleil are brought in to keep audiences interested, because even Oscar has lost interest in showing the films on Oscar’s big night.

Oscar’s broken and not even Billy Crystal can fix it, because what’s required has nothing to do with the host. Unfortunately, after one year of going trendy the Oscar poobahs got spooked. So, it’s a night of last year’s films and in memoriam, with actors as real people sandwiched in.

But “Saving Face” got it’s moment and will again in early March when it airs on HBO. So it can’t be all bad, because without Oscar few would know about it.

Angelina Jolie’s leg also got a moment and its own Twitter account. The dress Jolie wore was far more satisfying, because her leg was free, the fabric flowing, the dare in her stance commanding.

There’s nothing coquettish about Ms. Jolie. She dares.

It beat looking at caged breasts astride plunging necklines, or trapped décolletage in strapless numbers that pinch the flesh to pop out, both preferred cheesecake for Oscar and his silent film friends, who are still a bunch of rich white guys.

Oscar has never looked so old.