' ' Cinema Romantico: Countdown to the Oscars: The Mawkish Majesty of Oscar Winner Photos

Friday, March 02, 2018

Countdown to the Oscars: The Mawkish Majesty of Oscar Winner Photos

I love Oscar winner photos. You know, the ones in the immediate aftermath of the ceremony where the Big 4 — Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor — are grouped together and made to pose for a series of shutter clicks holding their statues and sort of clowning around, reducing Hollywood’s elite to some Sacramento weekend news team horsing around for a commercial spot. It’s not that we are seeing Who They Are so much as just getting naturally spontaneous reactions, a bunch of luminaries caught in moments of semi-honesty because it’s hard not to be at least semi-honest when you are basking in that kind of glow. 

This photo of the Big 4 from the 2016 Oscars, for instance, is pretty standard issue for the genre, with each person having his/her attention pulled in a different direction, and where even Leo, generally so deliberately composed in all public moments of this sort so as to not betray his actual inner-DiCaprio, has a grin seeming to approach genuine.

Bill Simmons and friends over at The Ringer are in the midst of the very Simmons-y exercise of re-considering the 2013 Oscars where, amidst other doings, Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for “Silver Linings Playbook.” (I made my thoughts known on Friday Afternoon Quarterbacking her Oscar last year.) And man, do I find these sorts of reappraisals asinine and exhausting. The movies themselves are forever and, as such, always open to second looks and new readings. The Oscars are snapshots in time, reminders of how the industry saw itself then, which is why theoretically altering them misses their breezy point entirely. And that is why I love this photo so much, even more than I did originally. It is JLaw-ian jubilant innocence frozen in time. Say “Who Should Have Won” as many times as you want, but you can’t erase this picture.

I like this photo because both Marion Cotillard and Javier Bardem’s expressions seem to suggest that Daniel Day-Lewis, Extremely Serious Person, has just made a funny, while Tilda Swinton, true to her non-brand, is utterly oblivious to their shenanigans.

While purists who Take These Things Too Seriously are no doubt cursing at the appearance of Jean Dujardin, well, if OSS 117: One Night in Brussels ever goes into production, it already has its poster.

I find myself gravely disappointed by Matthew McConaughey’s squinty solemnity. Frankly, between him and Leto, I expected more from this group.

The 2001 Big 4 is the perfect eclectic mix. Julia Roberts is, as ever, on point. Russell Crowe could do without all this extraneous crap. Marcia Gay Harden is playing by her own rules and looking somewhere else. And the young Benicio del Toro.....my God, man. I regret not truly appreciating what a dashing figure he cut at the turn of the century. 

I could not track down a photo of the Big 4 from 1993, and it’s just as well, because this photo of the Best Supporting winners is more than enough, even better, allowing me to dream of the Marisa Tomei/Gene Hackman masterpiece that never was.

Nicole Kidman always knows where the camera is.

I apologize for intruding on this fun little space with a picture of Kevin Spacey, but re-visiting this photo of the 1996 Big 4 is a little eerie. For whatever reason, the Actress/Actor and Supporting Actress/Supporting Actor were forced to share statues in this scenario, naturally making it awkward. And while Nic Cage seems to have elicited the amusement of Susan Sarandon in this photo, Mira Sorvino’s expression coupled with her body language seem to suggest she wants nothing to do with the reprehensible dolt on her left, a picture worth hundreds of thousands of words. 

Wait, is this a promo photo for a new show on The CW?

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