Oh America, what a big beautiful loser you are. Our giant lumbering paradise is so complicated, isn’t it? We can’t really be saved by John Ford movies, Levis, Marilyn Monroe and our precious life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Every time you turn around there is another evil to be conquered. What other country could celebrate the landing of Curiosity on Mars and hours later absorb a hate-filled shooting in Wisconsin because the shooter was too uneducated to tell the difference between Sikhs and Muslims. Oh America. You great thing, you catastrophe.
You can sometimes interpret history through the lens of Oscar. Some years seem in direct contact with the events of the day, and other years feel like a total disconnect. Movies take us out of reality anyway, don’t they? But if you glance over the 1970s, for instance, you’ll find a much more thoughtful selection of films because the generation who controls the voting at the Academy were younger, more daring voters. Or maybe audiences were smarter. Or maybe film critics had more influence. It’s hard to say why the 1970s still towers over any other decade that came after it. The exception was the two years the Academy decided on ten Best Picture nominees. 2009 and 2010 offered up maybe the best selection of Best Picture contenders since the 1970s. Last year we were back on target with the usual Academy oeuvre, with a few notable exceptions.