Episode from the podcastOpen Source with Christopher Lydon

Second Guessing the Oscars

Released Friday, 22nd February 2019
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A conversation about the movies with A. S. Hamrah, Beth Gilligan, Katherine Irving.

We’ve reached that odd ritual of cultural reckoning. Between the Super Bowl and Opening Day of the national pastime, Hollywood holds up its scorecard on the Dream Factory, and our dreams. There’s no host on the Oscars show this year—no Billy Crystal, much less Bob Hope—betokening cultural confusion. We’re in Trump time, after all, under the cloud of a hurting climate, waiting for “That’s all, folks” from Porky Pig. Turns out Hollywood, as work space for the imagination, was also epicenter of predatory sex, trigger of #MeToo outrage. Netflix is the new super-studio; home screens are the new multiplex. But nothing’s coming to an end here: black talent made the ultimate blockbuster in Wakanda, and little off-the-grid indies, like Leave No Trace, left some of the deepest impressions in 2018.

It’s Oscars week in Hollywood and the hearts of wannabe auteurs all over. We’re all end-of-February cinephiles, just for the the contrasts we saw in the cinematic reading of the social-cultural-political maelstrom of 2018. The Oscar nominees are the face that Hollywood wants us to see. We’re just as intrigued this time by the near-misses, like Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You, and Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace. We’re looking into many mirrors of us this hour with movie buffs we cherish.

Lydon’s Oscar picks:


  • Black Panther

  • Roma

  • Never Look Away


And favorite un-nominated classics:


  • Sorry to Bother You

  • First Reformed

  • Leave No Trace



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