The movie depicted a triumph of brashness and acumen over the mobs shouting "death to the Great Satan," even if the rescue didn't quite happen like the movie says it did. It even made fun of Hollywood's self-aggrandizing pomposity.
"So you want to come to Hollywood and act like a big shot without actually doing anything?" asks John Goodman, playing a movie makeup artist.
"Yeah," says Ben Affleck, the CIA agent. With the knowing smile of an actor with perfect timing, John Goodman tells him: "You'll fit right in."
It's easy -- and fun -- to be snarky about the Academy Awards night. The show is good-natured and feminine in its narcissism, the Hollywood Super Bowl of fashion, hair, glamour and the sentimental feeling.
If the glitz stands in sharp juxtaposition to the real life problems we all face -- high unemployment, a deficit that's off the charts and growing, entitlements that will soon break the Bank of China -- it's not the first time that Tinseltown offered fantasy, nostalgia and good stories for trying times. Entertaining escape films were common fare during the Depression of the 1930s. Fred and Ginger danced the blues away, and the audiences at the Bijou and the Palace loved it.
We all hunger for good visual narratives told with talent, and many movies this year did just that. The box office shows it. "Zero Dark Thirty" is a thriller, not propaganda; "Lincoln" is a drama wonderfully acted that takes liberties with history in both language and fact. Joe Biden was his usual self, suggesting he could get tips to shape mental health policy from interviews with the director and male star of "Silver Lining Playbook," a comedy.
The nominated movies naturally show considerably more talent than the scripted awards ceremony. The dumb jokes about boobs, gays, Jews, blacks and Hispanics sounded like children showing off naughty words they've just learned. But when more than a few winners were cut off with the theme song from "Jaws" -- a modern version of vaudeville's dreaded hook - we secretly wished we had a similar shark to answer the polarizing rhetoric from Congress and the White House. Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum ...
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