- Oh, you poor people must be so hungry!
Hollywood studios make two kinds of movies: those that offer escape and those with an inescapable message. Rarely is this dichotomy so neatly represented by the two frontrunners for the Academy Award for Best Picture: the dopey but spectacularly space-glittery Gravity
and the solemn 12 Years a Slave
, wagging its finger sternly at slavery. Host Ellen DeGeneres joked in her monologue that the room would prove itself racist if the producers of any movie but 12 Years
took home statues, and dutifully the Academy voters bestowed Brad Pitt, Steve McQueen and some other people in the background with Oscars before ABC syndicates switched to your local nightly news. It was a victory for prestige-picture storytelling, for middlebrow movies with a social conscious. But, despite winners Jared Leto (!) and Lupita Nyong'o speaking directly to troubled audiences in Ukraine, Venezuela, Africa, and elsewhere, the telecast—as usual—was about escapism, which explains why Gravity
walked away with seven awards, sweeping the technical side: Director, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, etc.