Unions and Wall Street at the Oscars

VIDEO: Winner for Best Cinematography, Wally Pfister, voices support for unions.
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The Academy Awards was mostly show-business as usual following three weeks of union protests at Wisconsin's capitol. Although the Hollywood film industry is brimming with dozens of unions, from the Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild of America, to the American Federation of Radio and TV artists, there were only a few shout-outs in support of collective bargaining, which the governor's budget proposes to limit.

The best cinematography winner, Wally Pfister, thanked his union crew for their work on "Inception" during his acceptance speech.

"I think that what is going on in Wisconsin is kind of madness right now," Pfister said. "I have been a union member for 30 years and what the union has given to me is security for my family. They have given me health care in a country that doesn't provide health care and I think unions are a very important part of the middle class in America -- all we are trying to do is get a decent wage and have medical care."

ABC News reports that Pfister expressed further shock at Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal backstage after his speech.

Gary Rizzo, who won Best Sound Mixing for "Inception," thanked "all the hard-working boom operators and utility sound people that worked on the production crew. Union, of course."

Natalie Portman pointed out that "there are people on films that no one ever talks about that are your heart and soul every day." Without mentioning the word union, she thanked her hair and makeup team, costumer, assistant director, and camera operators.

"Margie and Geordie who did my hair and makeup, Nicci, who dressed me, and Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who designed the beautiful ballet costumes, Joe Reidy, our incredible AD, first AD, and our camera operators J.C. and Steve who gave me so much soul behind the camera everyday you gave me all of your energy."

There were even fewer ribbons and mentions of war and unrest abroad this year. That might have to do with the fact that last year, the war film "Hurt Locker" won Best Picture and Best Director.

Hollywood and the Financial Meltdown

There seemed to be only one declaration about the financial meltdown on-stage. The director for Best Documentary, Charles Ferguson, was one of the only winners who mentioned the financial crisis. His film, "Inside Job," depicted Wall Street in a harsh light while examining the origins of the financial crisis.

"Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong," Ferguson said.

The website, Bloginity, reported Ferguson said during a backstage interview that the reason nothing has been done about these alleged financial crimes is that "the financial industry has become so politically powerful that it is able to inhibit the normal processes of justice and law enforcement."

Ferguson did take a shot at President Obama but not with the same bravado as Moore when he slammed then President Bush in 2003 with "Shame on you, Mr. Bush!"

"And I am sure also that personal decisions were made by President Obama and high-level members of the administration about this question as well," Ferguson said backstage.

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