Oscar for Dawn Patrol, Best Original Screenplay, John Monk Saunders, 1931

NY Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, devoted her Sunday opinion piece to some hating on the Oscars, which will occur Sunday night. She trotted out Norma Desmond’s famous line, “It’s the pictures that got small!” to make her point that for movies in general and the Oscars in particular 2020 was not a very good year. The pandemic shuttered theaters, forcing new releases to either delay their openings or stream on the small screen for much less money. Generally, it was the big box office shows that chose to delay, making way this year for smaller more independent films to shine. One side benefit of these trends is that this year’s Oscars will be more diverse than previous ones. No need for hashtags this year. Dowd’s complaint was that these indie films were too dour, too heavy on message and too light on entertainment. She felt that since we were all suffering, why not present something happy and gay to distract us from our plight, like they did during the Great Depression. The problem with this thought is it doesn’t take into account that Hollywood cannot move that fast. The Depression lasted for years, which gave movies time to adapt. Covid came on us out of the blue, we never saw it coming, until it was too late. It takes years to create a movie. It has been a little over a year since the first lockdown. Maybe in a couple of years we could see movies that reflect our 2020 experience or distract us from reality.

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