I'm not afraid to admit I loves me a good Oscar montage. A fond look back at swashbucklers? Yes, please. A tribute to film noir? Mmm, tasty. Dead people? I see them --gladly. But this year's montage dedicated to writers, captured onscreen during their process, left me chilly.
I already have issues with writers at the Oscars. Tanned actors and leathery directors alternately swan and stride about, looking handsome and tough and heroic. Picture-perfect. Then they make the "best screenplay" announcement and out trot Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco. GAAH! The only people who look more pale, doughy and blink-blinky in the bright lights are the film editors, and at least the directors listen to them!
(I realize this is not an absolute rule. Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman are lucky they don't get corralled into the inky-finger ghetto right after they step off the red carpet. Andwhen my handsome old classmate Danny Futterman decides he's going to write, too, well – what can you do? But the general rule still applies: actors, ready for their closeup. Writers, more ready for a healthy dollop of Vaseline on the lens.)
Let's face it: ours is not an industry that lends itself to physical well-being. I sit all day. Then I go to yoga, and my body freaks out and says "I'm going to make you pass out and throw up NOW if you don't cut it out with this frickin triangle pose." Then I take a hike with my willowy sisters and start crying halfway through. Then I go out for a bike ride and turn around and go home when faced with my first San Francisco hill. If they made an elliptical trainer with a laptop-holder, I'd either be golden, or I would figure out how to disassemble the elliptical part and install a loveseat.
I heard Amy Palladino, creator of Gilmore Girls, say something about how she had to rope her husband in right after she got that deal, before she started working in earnest and her buttbecame "chair-shaped." I hear ya, sista.
The fact is, the better I'm writing, the more awful I look. When things get really intense on the page, I hunch over like a homonculus. When something absolutely AMAZING flows out of my fingertips, my eyes might bug out slightly. Really, the only thing worth watching is when I'm doing dialogue, and I start babbling out loud to see how it would really sound. At that point, I most resemble an extra in the background of Girl, Interrupted. Scratch that. More like Cuckoo's Nest. At the moment, I am wearing a camoflage cotton nightie, Uggs, and a black sweater -robe. My hair hasn't seen shampoo since the last time I colored it. (It's red! Red fades!!) My tongue? Carpeted. This does not lend itself to caught-on-film photogenesis.
Compare and contrast to the Oscar montage. Jack Nicholson looks young and okay… till he axe-murders his family. Then things really get ugly. Nicole Kidman sports a fake nose and gazes. I uh… what is Diane Keaton doing? I mean she's at her keyboard and she's yelling? And we return several times to Sally Field in some sort of attic, with a ten-foot-long cigarette hanging out of her mouth. What? How? Why? She flails her arms. She stands, then sits. She paces. She howls! She throws the typewriter out the window. I love the Sally, I truly do, and I'm sure it wasn't meant to be accurate. But it's not even funny. Even the cigarette looked embarrassed.
I mean, this is a kobayashi maru if ever I saw one (Sorry. A no-win situation.) Show what really happens, and snoozery ensues. Play with the truth and risk the wrath of some lady in San Francisco complaining on her blog. Neither option is really safe or desirable. I really feel for you, Hollywood.