Wednesday, February 27, 2019

O Oscar, Where Art Thou?


The Super Bowl of All Award Shows has come and gone and the season has come to a close. For better or for worse, the Academy Awards stumbled and bumbled its way to the Big Night with all the grace and subtlety of a Rudy Guiliani interview on CNN.

In the run-up to the Oscarcast, the host debacle threatened to sabotage the whole megillah when Kevin Hart was announced as MC until to be lambasted for some of his older material, perceived by many as insensitive and  homophobic, though it hasn't hurt his career at all. And it never will...as long he keeps making money. A big box office forgives all sins, except as host of the modern day Academy Awards. So the search for a replacement was on. Apparently, no one volunteered for this thankless job especially since the vetting process is worse than a new Supreme Court Justice. I myself threw my hat in the ring to no avail and I'm now without a hat. The decision came down go host-less, something that had been done in the past but now seems like a "bold and daring move". There are no new ideas in Hollywood, only short term memory losses.

In order to streamline the long haul broadcast, this year's producers thought it would be a swell idea to cut the number of performances of nominated songs to two and hand out such unimportant awards such as cinematography and film editing during commercial breaks. That went over like R. Kelly's GoFundMe campaign. Lady Gaga said she'd only perform if all 5 were allowed, so there, suckas. (It turned to be only 4 anyway since Kendrick Lamarr and SZA weren't available to sing the Black Panther and nobody asked Weezer to fill in with their rockin' rendition of "Africa". Martin Scorsese and a band of goodfellas went up in arms about the non-broadcast award presentations so again, all or nothing. They went with all.

With the trade papers predicting a major disaster must go on and most certainly did. The end result was a damn decent Oscarcast that relied more on what the evening was supposed to be about-the Awards, stupid. A lot less speechifyin', cutting the rhetoric down to at least half and the dreaded T word wasn't uttered once, unless I missed it. If I did, I didn't.

The show began with a cold open, a performance by the remaining members of Queen with American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert filling in for Freddy Mercury because no one asked Rami Malek like they did Bradley Cooper. Still in all, a decent substitute for an opening monologue to get this thing off with a bang. The awards were all over the place, mostly predictable in the early going with technical wins for BLACK PANTHER and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY.  Mahershala Ali and Regina King picked up statues for GREEN BOOK and IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK respectively.  Are these two on career trajectories or what? While I'm particularly taken with my girl Regina, both are becoming major players, a testament to their fortitude. Some presenters were better (Melissa McCarthy) than others (John Mulaney and Awkwafina) though nobody embarrassed themselves as they did on the last Golden Globes or Emmys. Then the ROMA train started charging through. Alfonso Cuaron should have just stayed on stage. That would have saved some time. Jennifer Hudson and the Divine Miss M were in fine voice for their nominated song performances. But then came Gaga. She and the Coop's rendition of "Shallow" had to be one of the finest moments in recent Oscar history. This is the second time she's given a solid golden moment on this show and I hope there are many more to come. All hail Gaga! Getting down to the finish line, GREEN BOOK won for original screenplay. I guess you can go back to your seat, Alfonso. BLACK KKLANSMAN was up next for adaptation, Spike Lee hitting the stage in record time and straight into Sam Jackson's arms. Though three others won the award with him, Spike dug out his manifesto and rambled on like there was no tomorrow, hogging the microphone from the other guys. Hey, his first trip to the winner's circle and maybe, just maybe he thought he wouldn't be back? Moving on. Rami Malek comes up with Best Actor. Does he thank the director? Did anyone from BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY thank the director? In case you don't know, the director's name is Bryan Singer. He wasn't nominated nor was at the ceremony, though I heard he attended an Oscar night viewing party at Kevin Spacey's. Next up, Best Actress, supposedly a lock for Glenn Close in THE WIFE in which she is superb...and BAM! Olivia Coleman for THE FAVOURITE. Holy moley! No worries, mate. Liv's been on a tear for the last few years, mostly TV, but certainly a force to reckon with. And Glenn becomes Oscar's Susan Lucci. Director...oh, hola, Alfonso! You're back! Now we're in the stretch...it looks like ROMA at the wire, but no! It's GREEN BOOK. GREEN BOOK? Okay... Well, Spike tossed a lil' ol' hissy fit cuz he lost out to this film, ala DRIVING MISS DAISY winning the year of DO THE RIGHT THING which didn't get a nom. Them's the breaks, tough guy. Would you be so pissed if ROMA beat your ass? I didn't think so. Sorry, Brother Lee. Your film not taking home the big prize had more to do with you being a New York guy and not LA royalty. Tough'ns. GREEN BOOK's win is curious. Is it the prestige picture the Academy loves so dang much? I would have gone with BLACK PANTHER, though I consider its cultural status overrides its actual viability as a solid, albeit familiar superhero tale. The fact that these movies are driving the industry should have made it a slam dunk for that alone, coupled with the fact that it's a freakin' phenomenon that made history. Nope. (And SPIDERMAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE winning Best Animated Film...no mention of Stan Lee. Nice.) Actually, GREEN BOOK 's Best Picture nod (So prestigious for the Oscars! We made good SAFE choice!) was more of a big "FUCK YOU" to Netflix. They somehow believe they can stop this juggernaut by snubbing them at the last second. Amazon plays the Hollywood game, but not the Netflix so their bragging rights have just been tempered. And then they raised their rates. Thanks, Academy!

So all in all, the show went better than planned, but anything could the way they handled it at the outset. It could have all been just a happy accident. one they'll try to duplicate next year. Naturally.

Until then, see you at the movies! They're right there on the menu between "Hard Hitting British Dramas" and "Because You Watched Poophead". Oh, you have Hulu....