Monday, February 29, 2016

Oscar de la Venta

With a head full of death snot and a resonating cough sounding like a barking seal at Fisherman's Wharf, it's time for Hollywood's most glamorous  night...the Academy Awards! Yeah, this is first Oscarcast I can recall when I was sicker than sick can be. This goddamn bug has kicked my ass every which way but loose. Maybe it's the plague. If so, I'm the outbreak monkey.

This illness is yet another obstacle from allowing me to enjoy what I used consider my Super Bowl experience. Not being a football fan, I gravitated in this direction and would block out my schedule to accommodate this celebration of, my greatest passion, cinema. In years past, I viewed it through rose colored goggles and became one of the ceremony's chief apologists. But as I get older, the glitz and glamour have lost their luster, so the Oscar telecast has became just another reason to to spend four hours on the goddamn couch. We used to party on with a theme meal with special appetizers and perfectly potent potables like my take on a Bloody Mary. This year, with no appetite to speak of, I sat in front of the screen sipping on a juice box leftover from when my four year granddaughter visited last summer.

I actually entered this year's viewing event with some honest to goodness anticipation. Oh, not because of the nominees but thanks to the media hype concerning Chris Rock taking on the Hollywood elite and #OcarsSoWhite controversy. Hey, whatever kick starts my interest. I've addressed my feelings about this in a previous post (#BlackNomineesMatter) so I won't backtrack on that, only to say that Chris Rock and I had similar observations.However, Chris is a world class comedian whose commentaries on life and its morays has elevated him to the upper echelon of show business while I am a flu-ridden maroon with a blog.

It's been over ten years since Rock hosted the awards and his announcement as host for the year's show took me aback, considering his poor reception last time. He hasn't changed his style at all, but back then he dared poke the ribs of the H'wood community and was taken to task for it onstage. He made fun of Jude Law being in every movie at that time (which he was) and Sean Penn, before presenting the Best Actress award, scolded him oh so very sanctimoniously.

So how he going to be received this year? Why, with open arms of course. There's nothing that a while Liberal collective likes more than to be called out for perceived racism. They laughed uproariously at their own foibles and short-sightedness. "Oh, it so funny because it's TRUE!" Rock's monologue skewed the issue up one side and down the other, scoring high and often. And those fools just sat there and took it, even in potentially insensitive moments regarding lynching and Rhianna's panties. It was speculated which audience was going going to play to and somehow he managed to do both masterfully.

Continuing on this same theme throughout the show had more mixed results. The segment filmed in Compton was decent enough, though I'm curious why he didn't ask those cinema-goers if they had seen MAD MAX? And the Stacey Dash segment, while fortunately brief, was confusing if no one understood the context. Explaining the joke never makes it better. Or funny. The best was the deleted scenes from Oscar films with Tracey Morgan stealing the bit as THE DANISH GIRL.

Otherwise the show was pleasant enough. The Best Song performances were a snoozer (Sam Smith even acknowledged his mediocre effort) save for Lady Gaga's stirring rendition of "Til It happen to You" surrounded by a stage full of sexual assault survivors. Louis CK killed with his monologue about Best Documentary Short nominees. And fortunately, no embarrassingly award presenters as is usually the case, save for the positively lame animated segments with the Minions and Toy Story characters.

The awards were agreeable as well, though it's hard to judge when one has not seen the nominees save for a few. (It never mattered when I was a kid. I don't why it does now.) FURY ROAD, which I did see, picked a half dozen well deserved statues in editing, production design and costuming, among others. I though George Miller might have a shot a director award which, alas, was not the case. Mark Rylance's Best Supporting was a surprise, though I admit that I sentimentally pulled for a Stallone win. I also would have liked to have seen Tom Hanks to be nominated for BRIDGE OF SPIES as well for the old fashioned gravitas he gave to that film. Ennio Morricone's win made my heart soar like an eagle and I haven't heard one note of his HATEFUL 8 score because he is quite possibly the finest film composer of all time. Most everything else was predictable, save for the grand prize won by SPOTLIGHT the first Catholic Best Picture win since GOING MY WAY.

Though I had blown my nose about three dozen times, hacked up my own phlegm festival about half that amount, by show's end, I realized that I had basked in Oscar's golden glow one more time and convinced I will do so again until I say goodbye, cruel world. This weekend, I felt like I had. Hey, looks like I had a Oscar celebration after all. I hosted my very own pity party.

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