Monday, March 28, 2022

2022 OSCARS POST-MORTEM: THE SLAP HEAR 'ROUND THE WORLD or How the Fiasco Ended With a Quiet Little "CODA"!


Well, that happened.

And it wasn't as bad as I expected. It wasn't good necessarily, but..., no, it wasn't as bad....


So-eh, we never did get that eleventh Commandment when Moses came down the mountain that states of course, "Thou shalt not assault the comedian, for they are trying to be funny to cover up their own securities, and they know not the harm of what they say."

I don't know why I'm going with an obscure Mel Brooks-inspired Moses joke there-.... Just skip that....

Yeah, so I'll give the Academy this, they did make us forget, or not care as much about the below-the-line awards getting editing into the show periodically. Mostly it wasn't done too terribly, arguably they did it better then the Tonys, but eh, it never was that they took them out, it's the reasoning of how and why they did it, and I'm not gonna go over that again, except, if you keep reading, I'm totally going to go over that again, 'cause frankly there isn't much else to talk about, but the show itself is fine, good at parts even. 

I think DJ Khalid interrupting the introductions to introduces the hosts again, was a really bad idea, but Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall all were really funny and special here. All worked towards their strengths, they separated the material out well enough, I laughed a lot; the show ran smoothly enough. I think Regina Hall's sketch where she's claiming all the hot actors that they lost their COVID results was a little long for me, but it still was pretty funny. (Also, is Tyler Perry handsome looking? I don't really know though....) I loved Wanda Sykes at the museum, and Amy's material was great all night, and I know some people hated that jab she did at real world events with that seat filler piece, but honestly I loved that. To me, that's kinda always been the issue with the Oscars; there's real stuff going on in the world and here we are celebrating movies at this elaborate black tie affair. We should bring up the hypocrisy and the outlandish a little while we're doing it? Maybe that's just me. (Shrugs)

And speaking of jabs, holy fuck! Will Smith slapped the fuck out of Chris Rock! For real!

OMG.... Yeah, pretty much everything that happened after that didn't matter. The American censors feed was on-target with this one, thankfully there wasn't a censor pissed off that the below-the-line categories got edited in on delay, glad that the Academy doesn't have a Censors' Branch, but luckily through some of the international broadcasts, we got a little bit of a sense of what happened. 

So, apparently Chris Rock, made, what was admittedly a very dumb joke, about Jada Pinkett-Smith's bald head. (Like, seriously, Chris, "G.I. Jane"! I thought you said "G.I. Joe" at first, and then remember what "G.I. Jane" even was to even connect that joke. That movie is almost as old as some of the movies who's anniversaries they were randomly honoring tonight!)

And then, anyway, Will Smith, got mad, and then calmly walked up and gave him one perfect slap to the face. It was so perfect, half the people either thought it was staged or that he pulled it and slapped his hand. He was upset, and to be fair, I didn't remember this either, Jada has been suffering with alopecia for the last three years, so it wasn't exactly a choice for her, to be digging the Sinead O'Connor look... (Sigh)

I think we've all been there, where we think something is either weird, questionable, mocking-worthy and we can think of the easy jokes for it, way before we think to just look it up first. Hell, I did that recently when I found out there's an Indoor Football League team called the Tucson Sugar Skulls. (It's kind of a dumb name for a football team even after you look up what a sugar skull is, but contextually it actual makes a fair bit of sense.) Anyway, Will, was not in his best state of mind, as he mentioned during his acceptance speech afterwards that Denzel eloquently put it..., 

Oh yeah, after that, he won Best Actor. That was, the most cringiest thing ever, but yes, Will Smith won Best Actor for "King Richard". He got all the time to give, a speech, and an apology, and...- boy, Will Smith, really.... Uh, you know, everybody's gonna make their own jokes, and yeah, he behaved pretty badly and he knew it, and let's move on....

Wow! Anyway, pretty much nothing mattered after that. Up until then, the show, while not great for an Oscars, was basically staying at a solid C+ TV show and stayed that way, at least with everything that they planned to have happened. It was a lovely show, but not a great Oscars. I don't know which standard is preferable to you, whichever one would probably be the standard you prefer would basically be what you would think of this show. To quote every other losing "Top Chef" contestant, "It is what it is," minus the common assault charges that are not going to be filed, this was a relatively benign show, and that's about as good as they were trying to be. 

Some things never work on me, like any time people do anything other then show the montage and play somber music over it for the In Memoriam, the personal tributes were nice though. People will hound on the fact that the show still ran long despite fewer categories and awards. (Shrugs) I thought the set design was drab, especially in the beginning of the show,  and the thrust were they presented the Oscars was just way too narrow and small, and just a bad design in general. And no, I didn't mention the Twitter stuff and I don't care, and I ignored all that, 'cause fan votes don't matter, period. 

The fashion was great this year! Women had cool looks and styles, men wore a lot more color, that was cool. The performers were great. The speeches were mostly good, most of the winners...- 

Oh dammit! Winners! GODDAMMIT THESE OSCARS! I keep forgetting about the races! WHAT THE FUCK this year!?!?!?!?!?! Somebody, please, just reincarnate the corpse of Gil Cates, and grab Billy Crystal off Broadway next year and show everybody how to do this again, please?! FUCK! 

THIS! This is why the show sucks; it's because the whole Oscar season to the actual show, has been about everything, except the thing that we're supposed to be celebrating and honoring. It's not just having random cast reunions sprinkled in, it's about celebrating the medium these artists work in and using that time well to show why it's important, maybe not to everybody, everywhere, but to these people. These nominees. These people who have their careers, their jobs, their arts, celebrated by their peers on this one night. Talk about that, show that! Celebrate that, and this show did none of that!

It did a lot of other things and a lot of it was done decently well, but it wasn't exactly what the Oscars should be about, and that was the worst sin.

Anyway, after all that, we ended the night, with a lovely "CODA". Yes, "CODA" breaks, pretty much every Oscar prognosticating general rule you can imagine by winning Best Picture, and sweeping, it's total three categories, winning Picture, Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur, who gave a wonderful speech, and Sian Heder for Adapted Screenplay. It's the first film to not have below-the-line nominations to win since 1935, it didn't have a directing nomination, it didn't have an editing nomination,... it just hit very late and won everything, that's what happens with a December release sometimes; except it was released in August. 


I really don't get this year. Other then that, I actually did pretty well on my prediction, but that's also because I didn't call many upsets, and the Oscars didn't give us any. Kotsur became the second deaf performer ever, after his co-star Marlee Matlin in '86, to win an Oscar. (He also gets my vote for best speech) The aforementioned Will Smith won Best Actor for "King Richard", Ariana DeBose became the second Anita to win the Supporting Actress Oscar after Rita Moreno of course, and became one of the few outwardly queer Latino performers to win, admittedly a little specific, but you know what, we need more inclusivity, but yeah, Anita is now up there with Don Corleone and maybe the Joker, arguably, as the only characters who are double-winners for performances.

Best Actress went to Jessica Chastain for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye", as we return to the biopic performance as the winner in this category. "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" also one of the few movies to win multiple awards as it won for Makeup and Hairstyling. 

"Cruella" took Costume Design, which, yeah, the film about the most famous fashion-inspired villain in the history of cinema should probably win for Costumes. BTW Ruth Carter was one of the presenters of the Award and I can't confirm this for sure right now, but I think that makes her the first Costume Designer to present an Oscar, unless you count Tom Ford, who strangely has never actually been a Costume Designer on a film, or Edna Mode, who also has never been a Costume Designer before, and is animated character from "The Incredibles" so I think she's the first. Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong on that; I was trying to find clips of Edith Head presenting an Oscar, but as far as I can tell, Carter's the first. That was pretty cool actually. 

Pretty much, everything else below-the-line went to "Dune" though. "Dune" got six Oscars, winning Cinematography, Sound, Visual Effects, Production Design, Film Editing and Original Score. So, "Dune" won everything-off camera, well- cinematography was announced on the main show at least. It's director of course, Denis Villeneuve, the man who got thanked the most on the night, wasn't nominated for Director, and instead Jane Campion, became the third woman, second in two years, to win the Best Director Oscar, which curiously marked "The Power of the Dog"'s only win on the night. A very rare feat; the last film to only win Best Director since 1967, when Mike Nichols won for "The Graduate", and it's by far the movie with the most nominations to ever only win one Oscar, going 1/12! Wow! That's just odd, and I don't even have to look that one up to know that's a record.

The other big award was Best Original Song, which, despite having a couple songs from "Bruno" getting performances, (And a conspicuous lack of a performance from the "Belfast" song) Billie Eilish and Francis O'Connell won for "No Time to Die", the third James Bond theme to win the Original Song Oscar in the last decade. Weird, the franchise went fifty years without winning this category and now suddenly it's got three, something I'm sure the presenters of the 60th Anniversary montage of the James Bond franchise would know very well. 

(Sigh) There were some weird fever dream pairings of presenters and reasons this year, I might add, and that one had to be the most chemically-influenced combination of the bunch.

"Belfast" also won something btw, as Kenneth Branagh, the man who's been nominated in more Oscar categories then any other person, finally won his first Oscar for Original Screenplay for the film. Whoever picked the most Shakespearean of modern Shakespeare actors to finally win his Oscar in Original Screenplay btw would be pretty damn rich right now. Remember when he once got nominated for his five hour "Hamlet" that was literally just the entire play!? I mean, there were a couple flourishes, but like, still, eh, he had weird nominations sometimes. Nice to see him finally win. 

The International Feature went to "Drive My Car" as expected, Best Picture nominees in the category are still unbeaten. The Documentary feature Oscar, went to 'Summer of Soul...", which, kinda got overshadowed by the whole Will Smith/Chris Rock incident, but-eh, I betcha Jimmy Fallon's rating are gonna be up tomorrow night. Good job Questlove. 

I actually did see,...- uh, my favorite tweet on this, was from Michael Kenyatta, who's actually a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania right now, and he said that, and I quote, "Will Smith smacking Chris Rock and Questlove winning an Oscar are the most back-to-back Philly things to ever happen at the Oscars," which, um, yeah, pretty much. 

Honestly, the biggest surprise of the night was in Animated Short when "The Windshield Wiper" upset "Robin Robin". I'm pissed at that one 'cause I like "The Windshield Wiper" the best out of the shorts and still didn't predict it, but good win. The New York Times got the edge in Documentary Short, as "The Queen of Basketball" won Documentary Short and apparently one of the best speeches we didn't see the entirety of was from Director Ben Proudfoot for that film; see if you can find an unedited version online. (Oh yeah, Apple won the streaming service battle here, didn't it! Netflix underperformed in that regard, but I don't think anybody cares about that today.) Finally, Live-Action short went to Riz Ahmed's short "The Long Goodbye", another example of the biggest star in the project being the determining factor, although this was indeed a pretty good film. 

Overall, I'm glad that there wasn't a lot of upsets or strays from the expected; I think it made a, what we'll generously call a pedestrian show. go by quicker and easier; the last thing this show needed was more surprises. But yeah, this year, more then most years I think, the Oscars really got lost itself and truly doesn't know or understand what it is anymore and that's more pitiful then it is just sad.

Things have to change, and heads to roll, and the Oscars have to dig deep and find themselves in the future. I'm not saying that it's ever gonna be as beloved as they once were, nor I do think they should completely stick to them old fuddy-duddy selves either. Movies are an art medium that's constantly changing, evolving and advancing, and the Academy should strive to do that as well, but there's ways to appreciate and celebrate the craft of the art and the products that we love without having to get bogged down in meaningless changes and quick-fixes that aren't getting replaced with anything substantive to the objective at hand or change the minds of those who don't care about the show anyway. All this felt like a pathetic attempt to get the cool kids at the lunch table to notice them, and frankly the best thing about the Academy, was that, before, for all their faults, they usually knew and understood to not give this much of a shit. They have to stop caring or worrying about what "Film Twitter" or the Neilsens Ratings or ABC, or (Finger quotes) "Movie Lovers" whoever they are, or "People who only care about Spider-Man" or for that matter, even people like me who want the most artistic foreign art films to win every year, think! The Oscars need to stop caring what we all think and just strive to be the best of what they are. As good or bad as anything else was, nothing that this show did was remotely done in the direction towards meeting that goal, and that's why this failure, feels a lot worst then other Oscar show failures in recent years.


1 comment:

Mike's Movie Room said...

I am so out of touch with all things Oscar that until I read your post, I didn't know that Jessica Chastain won Best Actress. It never even occurred to me to find out who won. And to be honest, I don't even know who Jessica Chastain is. I had to look her up, and it turns out I have seen her in a couple of things. I didn't watch the awards this year, or the last few years. There's been more than enough boredom in my life! They need to pick up the pace of the show by cutting out the comedy monologues and production numbers. And Will Smith is a jerk. I don't care why he did what he did. He crossed over a line of decent behavior that shouldn't have been crossed. I think his punishment was appropriate. By the way, I didn't see Coda, so I can't comment on it. Of the handful of 2021 films I did see, my choice for Best Picture would have been Belfast.