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But I find it hard to discuss Steve Mc Queen’s film strictly in terms of cultural progress, as many have done, without stripping it of its singularity.To do so is to overlook the very specific, personal, borderline-abstract qualities that make it award-worthy in the first place. Hollywood often uses the Oscars as a pulpit from which to weigh in on certain issues — as Blanchett did, with good cause, in her acceptance speech — and yet, I think at the individual voting level, Academy members follow their hearts.Had Sandra Bullock won that same prize, Blanchett’s statement would have been even more valid: Of all the barriers “Gravity” has broken, casting an actress in a role that wasn’t gender-dependent strikes me as the most significant.I applaud Blanchett for speaking truth to power: “As random and subjective as this award is, it means a great deal in a year of extraordinary performances by women.” Truth is, we critics try to project a collective meaning on the Academy’s choices, when their individual and somewhat arbitrary motives are so often written on the wind.An A-list movie star used his industry clout to greenlight a modestly budgeted film ( million) on a difficult subject, recruited a maverick indie director who had never done a film of this size and scope, let him cast the right actors for the roles rather than loading them up with name stars (who likely would have distracted from the film’s verisimilitude, the way Pitt himself does a slight bit in his third-act cameo), and the result has been not just a formidable critical success but a commercial one too, 0 million worldwide and counting as of this writing.

”) Hats off to both of you for calling this race accurately.We’ve just lived through five months or so of complete Oscar-themed mayhem, and even as we are writing this, I have no doubt that prognosticators are starting to lay out the odds for the 2015 season — a mindless game that involves ranking films that no one at this point has even seen.And while I’d never suggest that the Oscars aren’t important, they’re certainly not as important, and not important for the same reasons, as many inside and outside the Academy would like us to believe.Indeed, I’d have liked to see a bit more of Ellen, perhaps in a pre-produced film sequence of the sort Billy Crystal made famous in his hosting stints, or some man-on-the-street bits a la David Letterman and Chris Rock (the two most underrated of all Oscar hosts).Better that than those tiresome thematic montages of real and fictional movie superheroes — time-padding digressions that served mainly to let people at home know when they could take an extended food run or bathroom break.

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At every turn, the show benefited from Ellen’s efforts to puncture its pretensions and loosen the mood.