The Triumph of ‘Green Book’ Symbolizes an Oscar Race Turned Topsy-Turvy

It’s not unusual — in fact, it’s often the standard drill — to see Oscar night come down to a duel between two best-picture contenders, each of which embodies a dramatically different set of values.

At the 1995 awards, “Forrest Gump” vs.

Pulp Fiction” incarnated the tension between mainstream Hollywood and a newly powerful indie-film insurgency.

In 2009, “The Hurt Locker,” in its implosive virtuosity, was a gritty doomscape of war that became the lowest-grossing film ever to win the Oscar (it forever squashed the idea that a best-picture winner had to be a major hit), while its principal competitor, “Avatar,” was the eye-popping 3D fantasy thrill-scape of the future: as much of a ride as “The Hurt Locker” was an anti-ride.Whenever there’s a pointed showdown at the Oscars, it tends to be of the smaller-vs.-larger, indie-vs.-mainstream, art-vs.-spectacle variety.

So at this year’s Oscars, when it became more and more clear,

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