Some Thoughts on the Oscars While I’m Still Awake

I’m drunk. I have to get up at 7:30 in the morning. BUT it’s my first Oscars in LA, the land of Hollywood and broken dreams and where these goddamn things take place!

It was a cool experience! I had made plans to meet a friend of mine at an Oscar party he invited me to. I’ve never really been to an Oscar party that I can recall. It’s 12 hours removed overseas and the Academy doesn’t really carry a lot of weight in Olympia, WA. In any case, I did not receive the location of this party until about halfway through the broadcast, so in the meantime I found a stream online to peek at.

I had my snubs. I was disappointed that Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs – possibly my favorite movie of last year – didn’t get much love. Not just in the Best Picture category, but a glaring omission in the Best Adapted Screenplay category (Aaron Sorkin is the reason that movie works) and Seth Rogen for Best Supporting Actor. Look, anybody who saw Steve Jobs remarked on how good Rogen was, and if Jonah Hill can get two Academy Award nominations, there’s no reason why he can’t get one too! I was similarly disappointed by the absence of Chi-Raq (Spike Lee for Best Director, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay), Benicio del Toro for Best Support Actor (Sicario), ANYTHING for Beasts of No Nation, and honestly, the movie that probably made me smile most last year, The Peanuts Movie for Best Animated Feature.

Still, all in all, I’d say this was a year to remember. What’s to remember?

  • GODDAMN, CHRIS ROCK!!! That opening monologue could be classified as ‘Scorched Earth!’ Every criticism was on point. He took it past the point of people laughing to people getting uncomfortable and I loved it! He was just short of calling out celebrities in the audience of taking whitewashed roles (like, say, Rooney Mara in Pan), a move that would have been well deserved…
  • GODDAMN, MY BOY LEO!!! He should have won for Django Unchained and/or The Wolf of Wall Street, but I’m glad he’s finally received something for his efforts! Sweet, sweet speech too: concise, grateful, and articulating everything about global warming that’s been keeping me up at nights.
  • GODDAMN, MY POOR BOY SLY!!! Talk about an upset! I’ll be honest, I don’t even know if his was the best performance of the year, I just know I would have beamed with pride to see him win twice for playing a character he created 40+ years ago. Besides, Creed is probably my other favorite movie of last year, the only one I went out to see twice. Still, Bridge of Spies came out a month before Creed, and I remember during that month that Mark Rylance seemed like the frontrunner for the award, so I guess it was a ‘Tortoise-and-the-Hare’ situation. Or something. I’m tired.
  • Glad to see that The Big Short got some love this evening, winning for Best Adapted Screenplay. Honestly, I think it’s the most deserving. It’s a film that’s gotten some flak for being to ‘clever’ for its own good, but you try turning the financial meltdown of ’08 into something relatable and comprehensible. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
  • Also glad that Brie Larson won for Room. Again, a case of the most popular also being the best. That happens sometimes!
  • I’m probably the only person disappointed that Inside Out won for Best Animated Feature. I was pulling for Anomalisa, not because it rocked my world, but because it’s an adult movie dealing with adult concepts, and proof-positive that Western animation can cater to broader audiences than families or stoners. Anomalisa‘s nomination bodes well for the growth of the category. In fact, this year’s crop of animated films was one of the most well-rounded. But still, Anomalisa‘s nomination is still a… well, anomaly. I keep waiting for the day when an animated film made by adults for adults wins the award and helps people recognize just how powerful and expansive this artform is. As it stands, I find it really frustrating that a big-budget family film with the balls to explore the intricacies of the human mind still needs to imagine it as a place where trains crash and buildings collapse in order to be interesting. (Also, I’m sorry, but Bing Bong is stupid.)
  • George Miller should have won for Best Director. I mean, c’mon, there is no discussion. I’m sure shooting The Revenant was hard, but a 70-year-old man directed the most kinetic, unique action movie you saw all year. That’s worth more than freezing your balls off.
  • I am 100% cool with Spotlight winning for Best Picture. The Revenant is okay but the story is just not there, and before it came out there was a dead heat between Spotlight and Room as the Best Picture contenders. Are they favorites of the year? No, again those honors belong to Steve Jobs and Creed (or even The Big Short.) But though potshots may be taken at Spotlight in years to come for fitting too close to the Best Picture ‘mold’, they will mostly be undeserved. Spotlight is excellent filmmaking: unshowy, graceful, and about something real and powerful.

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