There will be schmaltz.

Who says the newspaper isn’t a bargain? Mitch Albom, turning up his nose at the Oscars, shares the secret of his success:

Now, I’m not a Pollyanna. I enjoy films. I collect them. And I understand that not every story ends with music swirling and heroes walking off into a sunset.

But lately there’s this sense that unless a movie is dark, violent and hopeless, it can’t be “real.” It can’t be “art.” It can’t truly “matter.” I put these words in quotes because it feels as if critics and awards committees define things that way.

So instead of praise for, say, “The Bucket List,” a film that everyone I know has loved and which has a positive message about getting old and sick, most critics attacked it as too “sentimental.” Meanwhile, we get an Oscar nomination for “The Savages,” a movie about getting old and sick that is so depressing, you want to jump off a building.

If only the crusty old dad in “The Savages” had taken the time to share some of the accumulated wisdom of a lifetime, it might have worked for Mitch. But take heed, America — if you want to be as rich as Mitch, and he is vastly rich, be more like him. Go see “The Bucket List” and don’t be afraid to smile through your tears at the end. Because that’s entertainment.

(Just a writerly aside here: Does any newspaper column these days fail to contain a qualifier? Now, I’m not a Pollyanna. I’ve learned to look for it. I’m not saying Obama is an empty suit, but… I see it because I’ve done it myself, and I know exactly how it happens. First, you state a strong opinion. Then, the imaginary editor reading over your shoulder says, “Christ, I’m going to be talking to pissed-off readers all morning tomorrow. I have better things to do.” And so you pull your punch. If Mitch Albom thinks “The Bucket List” is a better movie than “No Country for Old Men,” the spineless tool ought not to be afraid to say so. On the other hand, that might be an unpopular opinion, and the cycle continues.)

I didn’t really watch the Oscars last night, but I had it on in the next room while I farmed health-care news. My overwhelming impression: Tilda Swinton has never actually been out in the sunlight, has she? I know Great Britain is famously cloudy, but she’s as pale as one of those fish that only lives in the Marianas Trench. I’m a child of the pre-melanoma ’70s, but I never see skin that pale and think “luminous English rose.” Only “fish-belly.”

But I can’t hate her, either. She’s a great actress. I saw “Michael Clayton” Saturday night, and she did such a fine impersonation of a former boss of mine — ruthlessly ambitious, high-strung, brittle, murderous — that I nearly had to squinch my eyes when she came onscreen. I loved her white pantyhose, too. Dressing for success is the same in Omaha as in Fort Wayne, apparently.

So how about some Oscar bloggage? David Mills followed the action with underachieving crazy-lady — and Detroiter! — Debbie Schlussel: “Self-hating, pro-Palestinian Jew Daniel Day-Lewis who stars in the very depressing, awful anti-Christian, anti-business, ‘There Will Be Blood,’ wins Best Actor. Predictable.” What a fun date! P.S. Thanks to the miracle of Safari’s command-F feature, I know the word “annoying” appeared eight times in her live-blog entry.

I thought Nicole Kidman was pregnant. Aren’t pregnant ladies supposed to lay off the Botox? She’s not.

I guess John Travolta overslept, and mixed up his hair product with a can of spray paint.

Sean what’s-his-name Combs charitably described as “entertainer.” That’s one way to put it.

Javy: Still smokin‘. Viggo: Less so. Isn’t covering a natural chin dimple like his with facial hair a crime against beauty? Yes.

Finally, I see the subject of could-Obama-be-assassinated is finally being discussed openly. I guess we know why Hillary’s still in the race, then: She’s still scrambling a team down in Arkansas.

To the gym! Because I’m paying for it whether I show up or not!

Posted at 10:10 am in Current events, Movies |

8 responses to “There will be schmaltz.”

  1. michaela said on February 25, 2008 at 10:51 am

    We were transfixed by the lack of movement in Kidman’s face last night. Every once in a while her cheek muscles would twitch, but that’s about it. As my husband said, the wrinkle-less wonder looks good for still pictures, but for actually, like, acting it’s pretty lousy.

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  2. beb said on February 25, 2008 at 11:32 am

    I’m a big fan of Diablo Cody since reading her book, Candy Girl, last month. It’s a memoir of her year as a stripper. It was funny, depressing, insightful, hard to put down and read like something from an Oscar nominated screenwriter. My wife also read it (in record time for her) and love it, so this is a double recommendation.

    Diablo won the screenwriting award for her first movie, Juno. Though I’ve got to say that dress she wore….. Whoever designed it should be barred from the red carpet for life!

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  3. beb said on February 25, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I, too, was put off by Mitch Albom’s snug certitude for not liking the Oscar nominees. Mind you, I don’t like dark, depressing, violegent or gory films, which is why I don’t go see a lot of films. But I don’t go around saying my personal quirks are right and everyone else is sick.

    However I don’t know which upsets me more, Fox running ads for R-rated movies during the 6PM reruns of the Simpsons or the endless ads for perscription drugs during the evening news.

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  4. Danny said on February 25, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    But I don’t go around saying my personal quirks are right and everyone else is sick.

    Why not? That is what the internet is for. Are you some kinda sick weirdo or something?

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  5. Julie Robinson said on February 25, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    And was Tilda Swinton wearing any makeup? It takes cojones to appear at a big deal like the Oscars looking like that. Amazing cheekbones, though.

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  6. Dexter said on February 25, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Tilda Swinton said she was not wearing any makeup. I heard this from a friend who heard her say it on one of those post-Oscar E shows , or whatevah.

    Diablo Cody’s dress was an embarrassment even to her. She was walking kind of hunched-over, and taking altered steps while walking up to get her Oscar, then she made a couple futile grabs at the dress’s huge slit-gap, and all I could think was “Diablo’s praying to God we can’t see her camel toe”.

    Jon Stewart was wonderful last night. I know only about a third of my friends thought so, a couple thought he was awful, some gave him a “C”…but I really thought he was just great.
    I am a bit tired of The Daily Show and I am not a Stewart sychophant; I just thought he was good.

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  7. Danny said on February 25, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Tilda Swinton does not need makeup nor hair. She is a beauty.

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  8. Jeff said on February 25, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    OK, i’ll join Jon Stewart — does America need a hug? C’mon — “No Country,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Sweeney Todd.” Holy abattoir, Mr. Ebert. What’s up with that? Is Lecter one of the primary candidates for President? I’ll say that while preferring some oddly depicted slaughter to hearing while the household 4th grader is doing homework the words from the TV “If erection lasts more than four hours, please contact a medical professional.”

    Well, “Ratatouille” got a statue of Uncle Oscar’s bald head! That got my son to bed.

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