The Academy Awards celebrated the French Connection.
Last night’s Oscar Ceremony was retro with Billy Crystal hosting for the ninth time, a black and white silent movie winning movie of the year, Woody Allen earning his fourth Oscar, Merle Steep receiving one for the first time since 1982, and Christopher Plummer winning an Oscar at age 82, only two years younger than the academy awards. It was Old Timers Night at the Academy.
Only Angelina Jolie and J Lo distracted from the tastefulness of the actresses, while Nick Nolte displayed the effects of mind altering substances.
The true retro though was the French Connection, or the French Circle. Eleven Oscars went to French movies, 5 to The Artist, 5 to Hugo, and one to Midnight in Paris, the most since the original French Connection in 1971. That great movie won Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director, and two other Oscars, as did The Artist. A French actor for the first time won the Best Actor Oscar.
The Oscars completed the circle of recognizing the French, known for the arts and culture, after a few earlier years of disrespect in America.
The French supported the invasion of Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, but opposed the invasion of Iraq.
An outburst of Francophobia erupted in the United States. The House of Representatives, under the leadership of subsequently convicted Representative Robert Ney, renamed the cafeteria's French fries, “Freedom Fries,” and French Toast “Freedom Toast.” The New York Post printed a picture of the GI graves at Normandy with this caption “They died for France, but France has forgotten.” French military prowess was ridiculed.
Bill O’Reilly called for a boycott of French products. It failed. Americans were unwilling to cut off French wine, cheese, perfume, fashions, and haute couture. Madam Le Guillotine did not await French products in the United States. We were also unwilling to rename “The French Kiss.”
The producers of French Mustard emphasized it was a family name and not the country of origin.
Our relationship with the French has been interesting. George Washington defeated the British at Yorktown because, for one of the few times in its history, a French fleet defeated the British Navy, thereby trapping the British on land in an indefensible position. Americans also celebrated the Marquis de Lafayette, naming cities and counties after him. Thomas Jefferson, a Francophile, purchased the Louisiana Purchase from France, giving us N’Awlins, Creole and Cajun cuisine, and Madri Gras.
We went to war a second time with the British, the War of 1812, but never entered a war with France.
And yet, we soon entered into a special relationship with the British, which persists to this day.
We have often entered into periods of Francophobia, exasperated by the foreign policy independence of France after World War 11. American Motors and Renault as "Franco-American Motors" was a failed merger. James Franco last year was one of the worse hosts in Academy History.
Hollywood is Hollywood, not always connecting with the American public or history.
Indeed, none of these three movies sold many tickets, and all have a heavily American, not French, connection. The Artist was filmed entirely in Los Angeles, while Hugo and Midnight in Paris were written and directed by Americans.
As a final tribute to America, Jean Dujardin swore in French.
Vive Le France!