The Oscars Were a Mess, But They (Eventually) Found a Message

We ask a lot the Academy Awards. The evening, besides working as a TV show, always has to be two contradictory things at once: an endpoint and a checkpoint. The Oscars serve as the climax a now-ludicrously-long competition season, but also as a transient industry selfie, a glimpse a fleeting moment in history — movies, those us who love movies, cultural politics, and the Oscars themselves. It’s a freeze-frame, but one that’s disguised as a finale, and we want it to satisfy and ratify both our taste and our need to be entertained, not to mention social media’s Judge Judy–tapping-her-watch insistence on immediate justice and rectification all past wrongs. How could it be anything but a baggy mess?