Arts Desk

Arts Roundup: Oscar Noms; Sundance Shrinkage; Ann Powers

oscMorning, readers.

*Today: Oscar nominations! They're in. Like as not, we'll have a spot of blog commentary from Tricia Olszewski, who's filing dispatches from sunny SoCal. They say it's 70 out there this a.m.; Tricia should maybe bring her editor along next time. just informed me that she canceled her L.A. trip and is, in fact, filing from "snowy D.C."

*Ebert, meanwhile—who's been working hard all a.m.—makes a dece point about Avatar:

If it won, that will be a sad day. Yes, it’s a phenomenon and I loved the experience. But the best film? Not compared to those other titles, it isn’t. To be seen to advantage, it needs big-screen 3-D. A DVD viewing will remove much of its impact, leaving many home viewers asking, What was the big deal?

*Sundance closes; attendance falls for fourth straight year. The New York Times credits this development to the totally epochal "rise of Twitter" in "the digital age." Robert Redford calls it a blessing in disguise:

The recession happened, and suddenly a lot of people around the edges — ambush marketers and such — didn’t show, and that’s fine with me. This place was bursting at the seams. You couldn't get around any more.

*Also, I want to take issue with the premise behind Ann Powers' LA Times item on the Grammy's (and, by extension, "the future of music"). The point of the item appears to be that music will no longer be just about music, but about spectacle: "Music is increasingly enhanced by visual or dramatic elements that deepen or even change its messages; it intersects with other art forms, like dance and fashion, to form more complex statements, and benefits profoundly from the active engagement of fans." Now, leaving aside that Little Richard predates this observation by half a century, and Pink Floyd's giant airborne pig by thirty years, my feeling is that the rock-as-statement-and-spectacle truism is pretty well established. More confusing are the dated reactions to minor award-show gimmicks, including "YouTube video tributes" and "the rise of social media" as evidenced by "Bon Jovi playing a song requested by fans over the Internet." (The Internet!)

Mainly though:

These perennial realities have now thoroughly transcended the idea that the literary, privately absorbed version of music — exemplified by the records that played on the gramophone that is the Grammy symbol — matters most.

1) The armchair-listening vs. concert-going rumpus was not resolved on Sunday night.
2) Kids these dayz don't know what a gramophone is, Ann. They're too busy sending Bon Jovi IMs with their minidisc players.

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