(Visual) Notes on Culture
  Art Film at the Academy Awards
Is it just me or are "art films" getting a good deal of airplay at this year's Academy Awards? Usually "Oscar winner" translates to "blandly palatable" - most of the awards go to well-crafted, often brazenly benign, bourgeois movies, and seldom ever to daring, transgressive (or even innovative) works. This ceremony has placed a good deal of acknowledgment onto the art films of the past. The opening, white-screened "confessional" had a nod to Stan Brakhage. The highlight montage of past winners in the foreign category included some stuff that I would have never imaged would get prime airplay on a major American network...it seems like risky business to show even a few seconds of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, 8 1/2, or The Tin Drum in mass broadcast media. Clint Eastwood mentioned Pasolini's The Canterbury Tales and Arabian Nights in relation to the award that went to Ennio Morricone.

Wait...Morricone at the Oscars? This man has worked on a full spectrum of films, from genre exploitation fare up to the highest art, all the way up to well-financed mainstream work. In one sense, he embodies what the Academy Awards should stand for...film experience across the whole spectrum. Maybe things are getting better - maybe this year inaugurates a trend toward internationalism, open-mindedness and innovation in Hollywood. Then again, maybe it doesn't...
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