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What You Missed in January/February ’15

The highlight of my 2015 was giving a speech at the Smithsonian on the Oscars, but I did a little writing, too. In January and February, I reviewed some terrific independent films and shared my thoughts on the real star of Birdman, negative campaigns in Hollywood, the political controversy over American Sniper, and the feminism…

FILE: Neil Patrick Harris To Host 2015 Academy Awards

The Oscars are Terrible, But We Should Still Celebrate Them

The Oscars are dead, right? Criticizing the ceremony has been national sport for years, but the vitriol seemed particularly fierce this time around. It seems that everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. Critics hated the telecast and Neil Patrick Harris’s stale hosting job; pundits railed against the winners who introduced politics into their…

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Reel Change Away From Home

First of all, I’m very grateful to the hundreds of you who read and shared my piece about Philip Seymour Hoffman. Like many other fans, I am revisiting his work these past few days and find myself laughing, smiling, and crying all over again. It is a great loss, but I’m so moved by our…

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“Amour,” and What the Oscars are Really About

I’m just getting around to seeing Michael Haneke’s Amour, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. The French film, nominated for five major awards at last year’s Oscars, barely screened in the U.S. At its widest release, it showed in 333 American theaters. By way of contrast, Argo, the eventual Best Picture winner,…

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What Congress Could Learn from “Life of Pi”

At various points in the run-up to the 85th Oscars on Sunday night, nearly every nominee for Best Picture found cause to associate itself with President Obama or Congress. For some films, like Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lincoln, it was a natural fit. Others had to try a little harder. Beasts of the Southern…