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Oscar Interruptus

Every Oscars telecast wages a time battle between clip reels and acceptance speeches, and lately the awardees — often nervous people, most of them not performers, caught in a life-changing moment in which they have to cobble together words of gratitude and fight off the fear they'll forget someone — have been on the losing end of the fight for precious airtime. Following Sunday's Oscars, in which a few too many cruel music yanks marred early wins, and host Jon Stewart had to drag Best Song co-winner Marketa Irglova back out to deliver her thank yous when she'd been unceremoniously silenced after her Once co-star, Glen Hansard, had spent hardly any time talking himself — the irony of a musician cut off by music looking especially bad — I'm ready to plead that the clips be clipped and the acceptances be accepted. Especially if the academy is going to have the gall — as it did this year — to assemble the majority of its nostalgia packages not from movies, but from footage of previous years' winners accepting their awards. (Plus, it was mostly footage of them running to the stage, rather than words said at the podium — a subtle signal?) It's as if the producers are terrified of the possibly naked emotions that come with extra seconds spent basking in the movie industry's highest honor on a live worldwide night. But isn't that why we watch the damn thing in the first place? To see actors working without a script, foreign artists talking to loved ones halfway around the globe, craftspeople emerging from behind cameras, mixing boards, computer stations and editing bays to enjoy the spotlight, documentarians passionately clueing us in to the subject that's dominated their lives for a few years, and — let's face it — even the blowhards and fakers who give us something to rail about with our friends on the couch? The end of the writers strike supposedly saved us all from a starless Oscars, which would have depended on lots and lots of clips. So why couldn't the academy celebrate what it gained by acknowledging the humanity of everybody coming to the party?