The Oscars are over, Twitter has recovered, the pizza has been devoured and the delivery guy is probably still waiting for the money to make its way from Pharrell Williams' hat to his pocket.
But everyone else, host Ellen DeGeneres tells us, is a winner — well, except for "American Hustle," which went 0 for 10 in its nominated categories. (Don't sweat it. The art of survival is a story that never ends.)
So what can Hollywood learn from the last six months of awards campaigning? Some take-aways from this season of glad-handing:
You can — and should — shame the motion picture academy into watching your movie.
"Possibility No.1: '12 Years a Slave' wins best picture. Possibility No.2: You're all racists." DeGeneres' opening monologue line was cutting, addressing, as it did, the elephant in the room. Let's be clear: There would have been nothing wrong with "Gravity's" winning best picture. But if it had prevailed because not enough academy members had the wherewithal to watch Steve McQueen's harrowing historical drama, that would have been an embarrassment.
Fox Searchlight went with a bold tagline for "12 Years" in the final phase of the campaign, running ads with a closeup of actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and the words "It's Time." Many academy members interpreted that line as a not-so-subtle message to Hollywood: It's time to honor a film that takes an unflinching look at American slavery. But a Searchlight executive told me last week that it was also an appeal to holdout voters who had put off viewing the movie.
Whatever the case — and the beauty of the line was its ambiguity — it worked. A number of academy members informed me in the past few weeks that "12 Years" had finally made it into most everyone's DVD players. One put the number of holdouts at maybe 5%, which would mean 300 members of an artistic community did not possess the intellectual curiosity to watch McQueen's intense movie. Not enough to keep it from winning.
Be prepared to work if your movie isn't in the best picture hunt.
Forget about the backlash when a pundit declared "12 Years" the best picture winner at the Toronto Film Festival in September. You want an early pick that actually went haywire? Robert Redford's winning the Oscar for lead actor, based on all the hosannas tossed his way at Cannes in May for his gripping turn in "All Is Lost."
Turns out Redford wasn't even nominated. The lead actor category ended up being packed with worthy contenders, and academy members couldn't wrap their minds around a wordless movie with such a hopeless title. But that might not have mattered had Redford worked a few more rooms and given academy members the impression that he cared — even if, deep down, he didn't.
At Sundance, Redford blamed the movie's distributors for the lack of a campaign, but the studios countered that Redford turned down most every opportunity to promote the movie.
Bruce Dern didn't miss a party. Matthew McConaughey made the rounds, chatting up the late-night talk show hosts. And Leonardo DiCaprio was everywhere, even turning up on "Saturday Night Live" in a funny sketch with "Wolf of Wall Street" cast mate Jonah Hill.
Christian Bale was the only nominated actor not to press the flesh. But he didn't need to. Everyone saw "American Hustle." Not so "All Is Lost." Redford needed to do a bit more.
Sixty-three is the new 43. Even if Cate Blanchett says you're too old to be standing.
Yes, yes, we know (because we reported it) ... the academy is old (median age: 63) and, by extension, out of touch with great, challenging filmmaking because ... well ... just ... wait, why again? This year's best picture slate featured nine movies sporting an array of styles and sensibilities with one thing in common — they were all very good movies. Some (particularly the gonzo "The Wolf of Wall Street" and the metaphysical "Her") even pushed the envelope — hard — and still managed to win the academy's favor. Bottom line: You put up a group of films directed by Martin Scorsese and Spike Jonze, Alfonso Cuarón and Steve McQueen, Alexander Payne and Paul Greengrass as well as the man on the roll of a lifetime, David O. Russell, and you've done your craft proud.
You can gripe about omissions. Maybe the movie you loved lost to another movie you just liked. But the members of this group have nothing to be ashamed about ... well, except for the ones who didn't watch "12 Years a Slave."
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