Monday, February 23, 2009
The Old, the New, and the Timeless
The Oscars are the one thing I will spend five hours in front of the television set for. Other than the hour's worth of television I watch at the gym everyday, I watch probably a combined five hours during the week. So as you can see the Oscars are a pretty big deal to me if I am willing to spend a whole week's worth of television watching on this one event. It's not even because I am celebrity obsessed or so consumed with why Joan Rivers would ever get that much plastic surgery done. I do love falling for and critiquing the gowns (quite naturally Sarah Jessica Parker's was my favorite this year), but even those aren't what keep me tuned in. While I do take up an opinion of who should Best Actress, Actor, Movie, etc. I really do not have any idea what makes one film stand out from another in the areas of art direction or sound editing.
No, what makes me watch the Oscars is being able to revisit the past. It was actually Penelope Cruz, the night's first Oscar winner, who said it best that "the arts are what unifies us all." Probably no other form of art does this better than the movies. Very seldom do we watch a movie by ourselves. It's typically something we share with others. The oddest thing will usually happen when we watch these movies too. We have an experience. It's odd because an experience is something we physically or emotionally take part in through interaction. However, with movies the actors on the screen are imitating an experience. Physical motions and emotions aren't something we the audience are actually taking part in. We are just watching.
To figure out why some of our strongest emotions emerge while watching these movies would completely destroy the true magic of film. But how wonderful that all we have to do is insert a disc into our DVD player and be a part of the mafia again with "The Godfather." Or celebrate Christmas and old friends and family with George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." Or have our hearts broken again with Jack and Rose in "Titanic" (though I suppose for that all most of us have to do is go to any ol' bar on the weekend during the late night hours). The Oscars don't just pay honor to a bunch of rich people who up-ed their talent only a couple of notches above Zac Efron in "High School Musical 3" (though were not able to top the hair 'do; I must give credit where it's due). The Oscars pay honor to every film that gave us a memory.
So to answer more directly why I watch the Oscars, it is for two reasons: the truly great and accomplished actors and actresses that make a rare appearance and the montages. Being the classic film nerd I am, my heart flutters seeing clips of Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant pop up, and but of course I still would just die to resemble Sophia Loren in any way. To know though that those stars and the movies they were in are still treasured by more people than just me is an even better feeling. I feel more confident that mine and many others' memories will be preserved and revisited for countless years to come.