None of this year’s nine Best Picture nominees (The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse) counted as dark, nihilistic, or shocking—like some of last year’s leading contenders, including Black Swan, 127 Hours, and Winter’s Bone. None of this year’s major nominees featured the overt left-wing political messages of other recent Oscar favorites like Avatar or Milk, and all of this year’s Best Picture possibilities took affectionate, admiring views of marriage, romance, family, and community, with Moneyball also honoring baseball and business, while War Horse glorified some of the same battlefield virtues depicted in Act of Valor.
Aziz, barely audible over the jabbering crowd and telling jokes skewering everything from the gay hookup app Grindr to the sanctity of marriage, is bombing terribly. He’s visibly annoyed. All of a sudden, Cuba Gooding Jr. bum-rushes the stage out of nowhere, snatches Aziz’s microphone, and yells, “Everybody, shut the F**K up! Have some respect for the black men onstage.” Aziz—who is Indian— looks baffled, and when Cuba exits, remarks, “Y’all would be paying more attention if we were showing BOAT TRIP up here!” Aziz: 1, Cuba: 0.
“I certainly gained a tremendous amount of sympathy and understanding for why Marilyn would be as late as she often was—or not show up,” Williams says. “The energy it takes to put your face on, put your body on, put your game on, and transmit that energy to the world, and to be what everybody wants you to be—to give joy, to give pleasure, to give your body, to always be putting out and not getting back—is exhausting in a way I can’t describe.”
Photo: Brigitte Lacombe for Newsweek