I'm not sure it's appropriate to invoke Proust when it comes to the Oscars, but last night's Academy Awards definitely felt like remembrances of things past.
A black and white, silent film wins Best Picture for the first time since 1928, Meryl Streep scores an Oscar like it was the early 1980's, and Billy Crystal was back for his 9th go-round. Even deja vu had deja vu.
Billy Crystal, the gold standard of recent Oscar hosts, definitely seemed rusty. His patented opening number (with mini-songs about the Best Picture movies) was off-kilter, off-key, and with nine nominees to cover instead of the traditional five, belabored. For the rest of the evening, Crystal would occasionally get off a nice quip or two, but he was not in vintage form last night.
As for Streep's win, I immediately felt bad for favorite Viola Davis (I mean, how many great roles are out there for middle-aged African-American women?) That being said, Streep was very good in The Iron Lady and her gracious and knowing acceptance speech just endeared her to us all the more.
And finally, I'm happy with the five wins for The Artist, a prime example of original and risky filmmaking. Besides, there were no more exuberant winners than the Frenchmen responsible for its success. Best Actor Jean Dujardin virtually shouted his glee: "Wow! Merci! Formidable! Merci beaucoup! I love you! Wow!"
I guess that's what they call in France "joie de vivre."
See the full Academy Award photo gallery.
By TOM TANGNEY