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Oscar night is nearly here, and EW’s own Libby Gelman-Waxner is back just in time to ponder the big questions about Hollywood’s biggest and most over-the-top extravagant event:


Do you really think The Descendants is deserving of the Oscar praise or is it just because George Clooney is in it and the Academy is scared/infatuated with him?


Dear PJ —

Like everyone else in the world, except maybe for a few Republicans, I worship George Clooney, especially because he’s so suave and sexy, but in The Descendants he’s playing a regular person, a lawyer in Hawaii. The movie was directed by Alexander Payne, who also did Sideways and About Schmidt, and who clearly believes that you can’t have too many movies about depressed middle-aged white guys. Now, I’m married to a depressed, middle-aged white guy, so when my mind wandered during The Descendants, I pictured George playing my husband, Josh, and putting braces on whiny rich teenagers in Manhattan. I thought about George telling those teenagers that even with straight, bonded teeth, sooner or later everyone dies, and then I decided that maybe George could have a meaningless affair with his hygienist, and smoke pot and wonder why his life was so empty, and whether, despite the rubber gloves, his hands would always smell like middle school saliva.

That movie would be terrible, but George might get another nomination, for wearing a white nylon smock and looking lost. George is like Alec Baldwin, because they’re both handsome, confident liberal dreamboats who are a teeny bit embarassed about being actors, so sometimes they make noises about running for office and play characters who have troubled kids and drive SUVs instead of Maseratis. George and Alec are always terrific, but I sometimes want to tell them it’s okay to make entertaining movies and have great hair. As Josh told me, “I would love to be played by George, but only if he used his dental equipment to kill terrorists and get into Charlize Theron’s mouth.”

Why is it that certain people who are nominated are almost never interviewed or paid attention to by the red carpet police? I don’t think I’ve seen the following people interviewed ONCE during the awards season: Glenn Close, Tilda Swinton, Nick Nolte (I didn’t even know he was nominated for a SAG), Kenneth Branagh, or Armie Hamer. I saw Christopher Plummer interviewed 1X despite the fact that he’s won everything this season. Don’t the tv reporters get tired of Angie, Brad, George, Stacey, the Glee girls and the 30 Rock stars? I’m so bored by all of them — Clooney included — that I’m seriously considering not even bothering watching the red carpet if it’s going to be more of the same

Diane Raetz

Dear Diane –

While I totally understand your rage, the whole point of the Oscars is that they’re always the same. Every time a new producer announces that he’s going to shake things up, there’s still one of those space-age sets that rises and rotates for no reason, the clips for Best Picture will always make each nominated film seem shrill and desperate, and the camera will always cut to Jack Nicholson or Tom Hanks sitting in the front row… so that my Aunt Sylvia, who’s in a nursing home in Tampa, can ask, “Is that Henry Fonda?”

I love the Oscars because they force wonderful, quirky actresses like Glenn and Tilda to dress up like Beverly Hills hookers, and because there’s always a Best Documentary winner who tries to make a brave statement about acid rain, which no one ever listens to because the words “Best Documentary” are a universal signal for the world to go to the bathroom.

So sadly, it never does any good to complain about the Oscars, because even this year’s Academy slogan, “For the movies in all of us,” makes the ceremony sound like an intestinal blockage. So just sit back and enjoy the TV star presenters, who are supposed to attract a younger audience, meaning people who’ve only just begun to use coupons for laxatives and Viagra. And don’t forget to watch the memorial section for all the Hollywood folks who’ve died during the past year, because it’s always fun when only the actors get any applause.

Wouldn’t be fun, innocent fun, to add a new category to the Oscars — one that makes you give your Oscar back if you made something extremely embarrassing? The “You Are Not Worthy Award” or something like that. (i’m sure you’ll come up with a better name for the unAward). For example, Halle Berry is putting a new movie out, called Dark Tide, which already sounds cheesy, but, if you have any doubt you can check on the trailer and watch Halle grabbing her glorious breasts when the two-octaves-lower-than-regular-people voiceover says “Academy Award Winner Halle Berry.” What do you think?



Dear Chris –

I love your thinking, because I always feel so bad when I see a trailer where one of the stars only gets listed as Academy Award Nominee, although I feel that certain actors should be described as Academy Award Viewer. But here’s the problem: if you could revoke an Oscar, after a star makes too many crappy movies or receives too many DUIs, you’d be left with Meryl. I think the Oscars would be more fun if all the nominees in each category had to stand on stage together, holding hands, and wearing sashes printed with the names of their movies. Or maybe the Academy could add a swimsuit competition and a personality question, where the host could ask each nominated Best Actress, “Why did you do that to your eyes and did it hurt?”

I’d also like to see more open corporate sponsorship on the Oscars, so someone could be introduced as “Best Actor nominee and Clairol Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Shampoo user, Morgan Freeman.” Or maybe the ceremony could develop a Fear Factor angle, and all of the Best Supporting Actress nominees would have to drink cow urine if they wanted to win. And maybe there could be more imaginative graphics, with titles reading, “Surprisingly Attractive Best Adapted Screenplay Nominee” or “Do you think this Best Cinematographer winner will remember to thank his drug dealer?” And I’m just praying that someday a grateful winner will finally admit, “But most of all, I would like to thank Libby, for fantasizing about me as if I was tall.”

To Libby:

Mo’nique won the Oscar, then didn’t present it to next year’s winner (supposedly because she wanted money.) She had a late-night talkshow, but what else? What is the moral of this story? Is this a “teachable moment”?

Shane Shanks

Dear Shane –

I loved Mo’Nique in Precious, because while playing a chain-smoking, abusive ghetto Mom, she was unbearably mean, and never tried to show that her character was secretly damaged or had a heart of gold. In real life, Mo’Nique is clearly a no-nonsense businessperson as well. There were rumors that she offered to attend the Royal wedding if Kate Middleton bought her a hot tub, and that she’d only accept the Nobel Peace Prize if the honor included First Class airfare, a selection of gourmet cheeses and a foot massage.

Anything involving the Academy Awards creates at the very least a moral lesson. My rabbi has used the eternal competition between Glenn Close and Meryl Streep to illuminate the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma, because both Meryl and Glenn deserve to win Best Actress, and bomb Iran. Rabbi Schneebaum has also pointed out that it’s not necessary to actually watch The Tree of Life in order to ask the question, “What the hell was that all about?”

In addition to her recurring Ask Libby post here in PopWatch, Gelman-Waxner is writing a monthly column in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, where she tackles all things pop culture. In the meantime, be sure to send your burning questions to Libby online, and come back in a month for her next edition of not-necessarily deep thoughts.

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The Descendants
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