E: Yep, that’s what I figured was going to happen. Oscar loves what it loves – in this case, Joker, 1917, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, and The Irishman. Films by white men, for white men, starring white men, featuring almost no women or people of color. Let’s review:
So there’s this DHL commercial from the late 80s or early 90s (sadly unavailable online) which sticks in my mind as one of the all time greats. My family collapsed in hilarity every damn time it came on, and as you can see, quotes it to this day. It was part of a series in which DHL showed irresponsible international curriers to use at your peril; there was one with a Russian rock band that used packages as drums, and this one, in which a deliciously heavily accented French driver had an existential crisis. “I am bored today. I am FIIILLed with bored-em. Zese bourgeois businessmen waiting for zeir packages, zey can wait.”
And that’s how I feel about this year’s Oscar race. I am filled the brim with boredom.
Sure, there will be great fashion, and someone out there will probably give a great speech. Maybe not one of the actors or director or screenwriters or producers (we’ve heard them often enough now to know), but someone. Probably. Oscar matters to industry folks in a way nothing else does, and sometimes that turns self-possessed people into piles of goo. Sometimes the non-celebrity winners have the best things to say; perhaps this year it’ll be Kareem Abeed, director of nominated documentary The Last Man in Aleppo, who was initially denied a visa to attend the ceremony. Or perhaps it’ll be a complete unknown simply paying tribute to his mom. Jimmy Kimmel should be topical and funny as he was last year; I feel like Princess Leia pleading for salvation. “Jimmy Kimmel, you’re my only hope!” Without a real effort from him, I might just be here for the protest art.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some flipping fantastic movies out there this year, movies I’m so glad I’ve seen. Movies that you should go out and see if you haven’t, movies we’ll talk about here. It’s just that the ones that speak to me are not actually winning most of the awards. Also? Every single awards show has rewarded the same performances and film. The critics didn’t produce such a homogenous response, but the industry groups? Every bloody time the same. I’m not sure there’s any race up in the air.
And oh, my lord, that’s so dull. Rolling my eyes like a tween listening to a parental lecture dull, deathly dull, mind-numbingly dull, French existential crisis-level dull. No, I’m not just saying that because I don’t like this year’s presumptive winner; it’s dull even when you like the winner. I’m not longing for last year’s electoral insanity (a remarkably juicy story chronicled here) but I can’t help wishing there’ll be something at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences big show that deviates from the script.
And on that note, let’s get to it! Continue reading
C: April’s underway, but if you’re anything like us, you probably haven’t been to the movies yet this month. Perhaps you have a vacation coming up though, so it’s time to start thinking about what to see!
E: Well, today’s the first official Friday of April, so unless you were seeing March movies, you won’t have needed this preview. Now, this isn’t the explosion into summer we get in May, but still, this April brings us a veritable bouquet of interesting spring movies. As befits the season, I have hope that some of these films are very much worthwhile.
M: Again this month we’re running on a tough timetable, so we have fewer of the limited-release movies than we normally include. Apologies! Now to it.
E: Um, okay.
Sorry to take so long in my response, but it’s been crazy at work and at home. Family birthdays, school orientations, religious holidays, huge work events. You’d laugh if I told you the thing I’ve done this week. (All wholesome, but a little nutty.)
In general, that Oscar cast was funny and enjoyable. Jimmy Kimmel was largely terrific. His monologue was hilarious (Meryl Streep! discrimination!) I could have done without the mean tweets, and the tour bus gag went on a little long, but it was hilarious. The music and the opening sizzled. Most of the categories went the way I thought they would. I loved the montages of previous winners before all the acting awards, and was heartened/amused to see how fiercely the editors emphasized Oscar winners of color. I think each montage started that way. There were a few exciting wins, a few good speeches (emotional, political but not off-puttingly political), some great clothes, great music, a charming host, Hunger Games-like parashutes. And then there was the weird, wild finish.
No, it was weird enough to keep me up for another few hours Sunday night, baking (because what else do you do when the world goes crazy?). After a little time to dissect it all, I’d like to run down my thoughts – what I got wrong, what I got right, and why. Why is the most interesting question of all.
Because seriously. If you made this stuff up, no one would believe you. But with the rest of the world going crazy, why should the Oscars be any different?
E: Some years, nobody knows what’s going to happen. Some years, everyone knows. Some years, you have Crash or Shakespeare in Love or, to a lesser degree, Spotlight: other years, you have Titanic or Schindler’s List. Last year, so much was up for grabs. But this year? This is one of the years where everybody knows. This year, the biggest question isn’t who’s going to win Best Picture, but how many Oscars La La Land is going to win. Could it win enough to break the all time record of 11? It’s not actually possible for it to score a win for each of its fourteen nods (what with two coming in the same category) and is out of contention in at least one other, but a record-breaking 12 isn’t impossible. A record tying 11 is more achievable, but it’s no sinecure.
There are other good questions to ponder, however, and they’re more interesting than just the attendees clothes and the presenters on camera patter. How will Jimmy Kimmel, after a successful turn hosting the Emmy’s, do on the trickiest hosting gig in the biz? It’s not even a question of how late the show will run, but whether it feels like it’s dragging when it does, or if there’s positive momentum building. There could be a record-setting three African American acting winners this year; is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) eager to make up for last year’s appalling slight of all actors of color, and truly embrace diversity, or will it all come to nothing? Will the expected political speeches miscalculate, turning off audiences at home, or galvanize the public’s rebellion? Will the In Memoriam segment be the most gut-wrenching of all time? Do you have enough tissues handy?
Instead of worrying too much, though, let us all take inspiration from La La Land‘s attitude, and enjoy the artistry on display before us. No, all our favorites won’t win, but it’s fun to watch anyway. Here’s a guide to this year’s top categories, broken down for you with all the insight I can offer. Here’s to the ones that dream! Continue reading