' ' Cinema Romantico: Ray of Light

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Ray of Light

It’s not going well for any of us right now but it’s especially not going well for celebrities. I mean, it is going well for celebrities, or most of them anyway, of course it is. If a celebrity feels sick, a celebrity gets a COVID-19 test, after all, while the commoners are told stay home unless your temperature exceeds 150°F and then they’ll see what they can do. But as Molly Lambert noted in a comically astute tweet, “without handlers every celeb has revealed themselves to be a Jenna Maroney.” Jennifer Lopez might have dominated 2019 but she failed her first big 2020 test by posting a video showing her sheltering-in-place at the luxurious compound of her fiancé Alex Rodriguez. What, don’t you have 12,000 square-feet to self-isolate? This week Claire Downs assembled an astonishing Twitter thread detailing the self-isolated lifestyles of the rich and stupid in the Bahamas. And then, of course, there was Gal Gadot crowdsourcing famous friends for a quarantined inspirational “Imagine” sing-along that rather than bringing everyone together only exposed the divide. Lady Gaga, at least, apparently transitioning to her new persona of St. John’s Humanities Professor, what with her turtleneck, blazer and black frame glasses, demonstrated refreshing enlightenment by advising that, no, we are all not in this together because, hey, all our situations are not created equally, a polite dressing down of that banal slogan that made me want to cheer. And then there was Naomi Watts.

If Madonna is Instagramming her New Age mumbo jumbo from the bath, Watts was Instagramming a mental breakdown when her printer, vacuum cleaner and dishwasher all broke on the same day, a confluence of appliance implosion more analogous to everyday people than rose petals in the tub. Watts’s motivation was her own, of course, but, like the great actor she is, channeled all our rage in channeling hers, embodying us and all the anger, exhaustion and fear we are feeling rather than cheerily condescending to us. She refrained from offering ostensible words of wisdom, abstained from sprinkling us with famous person pixie dust and forewent calling on, say, Nicole Kidman and Kylie and Dannii Minogue to sing “What the World Needs Now is Love.” Watts knew this wasn’t the time to light some goddam unity candle; she knew it was time to freak out and then stress eat red velvet cake. I feel ya, girl.

In other words, Naomi Watts has emerged as the 2020 front-runner for Best Actress.

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