Not to be always delivering bad news but it’s remarkable how the Oscar race feels like a ghost town. Much of that is due to the snubbing of the year’s most popular film. Yes, quietly AMPAS is probably snickering about it all, trying hard to remember what the point of the Oscars is in the first place and whether or not the telecast will one day be on cable rather than the networks. It isn’t about the telecast, nor the ratings, nor the box office – I know, I know, it’s about pure cinema! Anyway, the Carpetbagger went down to Times Square to report something, anything in the ghost town and here is what he found:

In years past, two weeks before the Oscars, people of all stripes and incarnations were more than happy to talk about this movie or that role, that favorite actress, and who might win. But even though many of the people strolling around the so-called crossroads of America were there at their leisure, the idea that they would care or worry about movies at a time like this seemed preposterous to the people the Bagger queried. At first the Bagger thought that it was just his usual Kryptonite version of reporting, in which strangers are frightened by his approach. But it became clear that what was going on was tonal in nature, that things like the Oscars, against the backdrop of a recession, just don’t seem worth talking about. In 90 minutes in the Square with countless intercepts and queries, the Bagger got precisely six people to talk to him. One person who waved him off even hissed, “You’re asking me about what, the Oscars?”

The Bagger suggests that hard times in America are the main reason for the lack of interest:

Those of us who live in the Oscar Ninny kingdom might have missed something. While we were all debating the whole Mickey vs. Sean thing, the rest of America has been out there living life on life’s terms, which has not been a pleasant endeavor of late.

That’s as good a reason as any. I’ll buy that. At least it doesn’t put the blame on the films.¬† But I do know people who are slowing coming out and buying movie tickets and the adults still want to see the Oscar movies. It is just taking them some time to get there. In my experience, a select group of people are interested in the Oscar race except when a popular movie is in the race — like Return of the King, Gladiator, Titanic, etc. There’s always next year.

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