It’s probably not a great thing for the Academy that the hottest topic at the Governors Ball last night was who wasn’t there. Maybe it’s because the Oscars show, despite a great Jimmy Kimmel monologue, was a relatively low-key and paint-by-numbers affair. But Tom Cruise and, to a lesser extent, Jim Cameron, kept coming up in my chats. And the overwhelming reaction to their conspicuous no-shows was basically a giant, Really?
If there’s something personal or serious that caused these guys to bail, then I apologize for this rant. But if not—and at least with Cruise, it appears not—this was a pretty massive middle finger to the Academy and to their Oscar-nominated collaborators. These guys spent most of the year talking about the importance of the movie business—the theatrical movie business—and getting fans back to seeing movies. But the moment they were “snubbed” for best actor and best director, respectively, and their movies likely weren’t winning best picture, and they were faced with a public environment where they might be the subject of some jokes, they can’t be bothered to appear at the single biggest promotional event for those movies? (Including, in Cruise’s case, the movie he was nominated for producing?) Pretty unbelievable. You think Mike Trout or Mookie Betts love playing in the lame World Baseball Classic tournament in the weeks before a 162 game MLB season? Probably not, but those guys know they’re huge stars, and fans expect to see them, so they show up to support their game. Cruise? He’s busy “working.”
I know the Oscars is a slog, and the red carpet (or whatever beige color that was this year; I’m sure it will never appear nor be spoken of by the Academy again) can be toxic and draining. Camera phones and social media long ago ruined awards shows, at least for those who attend. But this is work, and Cruise is used to putting up with big crowds in pursuit of self-promotion and ego-stroking. The Oscars are nothing if not that.