Mar 012011
Authors: Matt Miller

I had to wait a whole year –– 365 days –– for one of my favorite events: a Hollywood celebration filled with glamour, excitement, heartbreak and scandal.

All day Sunday I couldn’t sit still until about 9 p.m. That’s when it finally happened. I sat rapt with attention staring at the box in front of me as the 83rd Annual Academy Award tribute to the celebrities we lost this year began. (That’s right, I like to see dead people.)

Every year it plays out in generally the same way. There will be music playing –– sometimes upbeat, sometimes dramatic –– and there will be a montage of usually elderly Hollywood men and women who scroll across the screen that have died the previous year.

It is about this time that no matter what I’m doing (whether looking at the clock to see how much I care to wait for the best picture announcement, or browsing Wikipedia because I forgot last year’s winners) all else is forgotten.

What follows is a Russian Roulette-like suspense as it shows some big name Hollywood agent: miss, I didn’t know that one. Some composer who made a song for a movie in the 1930s: miss again. Then bang. The anticipation has finally climaxed; it’s a familiar face and I find myself yelling, “Oh no I didn’t know so and so died,” or “Wow, THAT guy died; what was he in again?”

The previous year’s highlights include Heath Ledger, Patrick Swayze, Paul Newman, Bernie Mac and Michael Jackson.

My eyes are locked on the screen and my mind is struggling to deal with the fact that although celebrities may be immortal on the screen, no amount of fame and glamour can save them from a very human end.

But this year as Celine Dion sang a song that sounded eerily like the “Titanic” theme (I say eerily because the lady who played the elderly Rose in “Titanic” died this year) I wondered if the passing of seasoned titans was a metaphor for ushering in a new generation of Hollywood. But I don’t think Hollywood has passed the audition yet.

Generational divides were the Justin Bieber of this year’s Oscars.

In an attempt to grab younger viewers, James Franco and Anne Hathaway were summoned to host the celebration. It seemed possible that Franco looking high onstage and Hathaway’s bubbly attitude would draw in the younger demographics like a “Jersey Shore” marathon.

The Oscar producers even went so far as to grab a younger audience by shoving a Tweet, a blog post or a Facebook update into nearly every millisecond of the show.

On top of his Yale course load, the pressure of being nominated for best actor and the stress of hosting the Oscars, poor Franco was even filming and Tweeting while onstage.

But the conflict of old vs. young didn’t stop there.

In the eyes of many, the Oscar for Best Picture could go to one of two options: “The King’s Speech” or “The Social Network.”

The former is a World War II period piece chronicling a king overcoming a speech impediment; the latter is a look at the current Internet king who was the architect of Generation Y.

After going home with the most honors, including Best Drama at the 68th Golden Globe Awards, “The Social Network” seemed like the frontrunner –– a movie that defined a generation.

But at the end of the night “The King’s Speech” went home with top honors. A stuffy, snobbish, even boring sounding film beat out a movie that etched in time the current Internet culture of America.

Did the Academy make the right decision?

Yes it did.

It didn’t let the obsession over reeling in a younger audience get in the way of its decision-making. It chose the movie that maturely and quietly combined jaw-dropping acting performances, an engaging, dynamic script and tasteful direction into a well-executed work of art.

Will “The King’s Speech” go down in movie history? Yes, it will as a Best Picture winner.

Will “The Social Network” go down in movie history? Yes it will as a movie that painted an unflinching portrait of the man who fathered a me-media-obsessed 21st century. And like Steven Spielberg said, when presenting Best Picture, sometimes our most beloved movies are just a runner-up.

Even though the “have it now” generation didn’t come out the winners at the Oscars, if they keep hitting that refresh button their time on top will come.

Entertainment Editor Matt Miller is a junior journalism major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

Check these out

  • “127 Hours” (DVD) –– It may have gone home disappointed at the Oscar’s, but if you haven’t seen “127 Hours” it’s a powerful movie with beautiful direction by Danny Boyle.
  • “The Adjustment Bureau” –– This movie loosely adapted from master sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick looks like it could have the action and cerebral mind trip of “Inception.”
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