And the Oscar Goes To... (2014) (Not Rated)

Right before the 2015 Oscars, TCM made and aired a documentary about the infamous Academy Awards. Using the powers of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, the movie they released is both coy, honest, and a complete worship of the institution.
The movie seeks to show the history of the Academy Awards and on this front, I'm not sure what good this actually does. We all know that this has a long history and that it exceeds at highlighting the "best" of the year. Some of the interviewees laugh at the fact that each and every year there is public flack for "the right movie" not getting nominated...after all, the vote is a vote. It's the opinion of the Academy and not anyone else's. You want a different list, make your own.
With this brash, brassy, and self-congratulatory way of directing, it's amazing that the minorities do get honored as often as they do. Whoopi Goldberg makes the point of pointing out the history of black actors and actresses in Hollywood and the audience is privileged to seeing the acceptance speeches of the few actors and actresses who won these awards. Then we move on.
Paralleling the actual awards night, the movie takes you through the minor awards leading up to the more major awards; but herein lies the problem: there is always an explanation for the minor awards, what they each mean to the industry. Instead of telling us what the major awards, like Best Actress mean for movies in general, we just get success stories of people like Helen Mirren and Jennifer Hudson and Jane Fonda, etc. etc. The movie is more sympathetic with the female voice, as if the emotions of winning mean more to the feminine persuasion.
Jason Reitman is featured as one of the "losers" of the Oscars, but George Clooney, smug as ever, smirks at the camera and talks about all his Oscar nominations; yet we are sure never to see his acceptance speech.
I think what it eventually boils down to is the power of the pop culture influence and the mysteriousness of the movies/Academy Awards. Instead of being a little more edgy with its critique of the awards, the movie dances around the evening. We do get the comment that the "real Hollywood" never appears on the camera, because the "real Hollywood" isn't glamorous. You win your awards, go on to your work the very next day with no fans screaming around you, applauding you or chanting your name.
It's just an illusion.
But what a glorious illusion it is and what a history it has.
You can see the way the Rob Epstein's own history with the Oscars influences his usually other straightforward techniques. Having won two awards, you might think that he would be slower to push critical thinking would be right.
Eventually, it does mirror the night of awards completely—it's dazzling, funny, sometimes politically forward, and over in a flurry leaving you thinking that it might come back next year.
By the next day, it might have been forgotten except for a few highlights.

Score: ★★★

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