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Michael Cieply: Dumb Snubs, Diversity Watch, Political Strife – A Practically Perfect Oscar Season

It’s a fact of life, people love the Oscars most when the film Academy or its members are doing something dumb. Slapping a host. Naming the wrong winner. Singing about bare breasts. That sort of thing.

So it was a good week for the March 10 Academy Awards show. The colossally un-smart snubs of Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig gave millions of Barbie fans something to buzz about. Will Gerwig, nominated as a writer, and Robbie, nominated as a producer, of Best Picture-nominated Barbie, scorch the red carpet with zingers about their exclusion as director and star? Will Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera, nominated for supporting roles, show up in pink and wave toy flags in support of their colleagues?

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Gosling is already making noise about the snubs. Things are looking up.

Plus we’ve got a good, solid Diversity Challenge. Will Lily Gladstone be the first Native American to win a competitive Oscar (or second, if you are among those still counting Buffy Sainte-Marie) for her performance in Killers of the Flower Moon? Or will she be kept in the wings like Chief Dan George, eclipsed by, say, the brilliant but less under-represented Emma Stone for her performance in Poor Things?

Yet another reason for yet another audience bloc to watch.

Now we need a juicy campaign scandal — like somebody trash-talking somebody else in apparent violation of the rules, leading to a sternly written letter and a board promise to review practices and procedures next time, for sure. It happens every year. That’s what keeps the insiders interested.

And we could use at least one more pre-Oscar outrage by master of ceremonies Jimmy Kimmel, who set the blood stirring 10 days ago with an especially vibrant anti-Trump rant on his late-night show. Post-New Hampshire, Trump is on a roll. But the cable mob is restless. The border states are rising. Court dates are popping everywhere. Super Tuesday lands on March 5, five days before the Oscars. With all that political heat, Kimmel is bound to go off on Trump before the ceremony ends — in the first three minutes, actually. That should fire up half the audience, and remind the other half how much they love to hate the Oscars.

So never mind that dip in the Emmy ratings. Things are shaping up nicely for the Oscars. In fact, this could be a practically perfect year for Hollywood’s premier awards show.

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