Oscars So…

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There was a time not so long ago when journalists got up at the crack of dawn to go to the Motion Picture Academy where, at its Samuel Goldwyn movie theatre on Wilshire Blvd., if you were one of them, you’d be among the first non-Academy associated humans to get a white typewritten paper list of Oscar nominees that you’d either phone into your publication or rush back to the office to write about for tomorrow’s edition. There wasn’t a lot for TV reporters to film, except perhaps a bunch of p.r. representatives lingering from the side aisles waiting to pounce on anyone within earshot in all sorts of nefarious ways.

Oh, maybe there was also the dull Academy president announcing the major nominees in front of a red velvet curtain and a larger than life backdrop of a fake Oscar but I wouldn’t swear to it. What I do remember is when I first got here and started covering it, even the presidents lingered, and often nefariously. In Hollywood, everyone lingers – sometimes nefariously and sometimes not – but almost always for too long. It’s one of the many pitfalls of the business.

Anyway, back to the bygone era of the very early eighties that I refer to. It was a time very early in my career when I was an actual show business journalist. Clearly, I’m not as good as I thought because I can’t remember if there was even an actor standing next to the Academy president announcing said nominees or if the prez even or always read them.

Ok.. I'm not THAT old.

Ok.. I’m not THAT old.

What I do remember is that I was very young and very excited to be there. Though more exciting than that was the list the Academy compiled for you stapled to the back pages of the nominees. It totaled up the list of nominees by studio, individual credits and according to how many times, if any, the person(s) had been nominated and/or won before. Why was that exciting? Because there was a time not so long before that when not even this detailed list was provided and a reporter had to navigate the perilous waters of going back to the office and inevitably getting some minute detail of the past or present wrong.

What do you mean fill in name of current nominee never got nominated? How dare you forget that short film they produced when they were 32 that no one ever heard of! I will never read you again! Or –

We fill in name of studio got six nominations this year and not seven – clearly you’re in the tank for fill in name of chief competing studio. We’re pulling all of our ads! Though my favorite was –

You know, fill in name of nominee was NOT the youngest (or oldest) nominee for best sound. In 1938, fill in name of nominee was co-nominated for best documentary and they were 22 (102). That’s a full eight months younger! How dare you! Don’t you know ANYTHING????

Amen, Lady Mary.

Amen, Lady Mary.

Ahh, how times have changed. Or have they?

There will inevitably always be something to complain about when award nominees and recipients are concerned. Especially with the granddaddy (mommy?) of all – the Academy Awards. It’s not that this year’s Oscars are not so white. It’s that, well, they are never fair. Or even-handed. Or even…much of anything except iconic.

Ok... when you see this it does seem pretty white, but I digress

Ok… when you see this it does seem pretty white, but I digress

What you discover as you get older is that this is the case for far too many or our icons. Oh, don’t go thinking I’m on a downer and you don’t want me passing it over to you. Nothing iconic is quite what it seems to be. The Statue of Liberty is older than it looks up close, the Mona Lisa is smaller and most Las Vegas curtains are tacky and made of Mylar. Not to mention…well, you get the picture.

This is not to make excuses for the silly omissions on this year’s list or to say that this and many other show business, in fact all business, organizations, need to be more inclusive – nee color blind, gender blind, age blind and…well, you get the picture. Again. Of course, they do.

But accepting all this to be true or not true and simply dealing with the facts, explain on a macro level:

  1. How can The Martian land seven nominations including best picture, actor and screenplay, and yet its director Ridley Scott is completely ignored?
  2. How is it that Carol gets six nominations, including, best actress, supporting actress and screenplay, and for best picture it receives nary a mention?
  3. How can I, as a lover of all kinds of movies, watch both of the above films and not understand why they were nominated for much of anything because both generally bored the hell out of me???

Therein lies your answer.

#noshame

#noshame

This is all a strange conglomeration of opinion, circumstance, institutional prejudice and chance. And, as Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman so famously posited many decades ago in his seminal book Adventures in the Screen Trade, when it comes to the motion picture field: NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING.

And yet…we all want a piece of the pie, don’t we? We all want to be recognized, and counted, or at the very least, to feel included.

I’ve often read the not so subtle putdowns of the millennial generation and how they need an award for everything. Often this is attributed to mis-parenting and a vaguely sort of overly permissive, socially liberal baby boomer culture.

I bet that cake was delicious

I bet that cake was delicious

Well, perhaps. But I don’t think so. Like all the rest of us, they just want to feel included in the inside game and valued in some way.

Awards and nominations are one way to feel this. But there are others. Lots of them.

Which is not to say I won’t be watching, dishing and live tweeting the Oscars when they air, Sunday. Feb. 28 right here at notesfromthechair.com.

And give up show business?? Oh, I don’ t think so.

What the [BLEEP] was that?

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Ricky Gervais really did seem like he didn’t want to be there. No, really. It wasn’t his usual faux pose of I’m in on the joke and too good for this except, really, I’m not and want the money and probably should have the exposure. It was more, Oh, just give me your damn script, I’ll make a few tweaks, ad-lib and then we’ll be fine.

Except he wasn’t and it wasn’t. What it was –- was a mess.

The highlight, of course, came when Gervais had to introduce Mel Gibson – who has somehow been granted a reprieve from Hollywood Siberia after more than a large handful of alcoholic/rage-induced, anti-Semitic and/or anti-female rants and/or actions. See, several years prior Ricky had unmercifully ragged on an absent Mel during all that hubbub but now Mel’s asylum meant he needed to be re-introduced as a presenter.

I'm already exhausted

I’m already exhausted

Well, Ricky got some jabs in, compared Mel to Cosby and got some uncomfortable laughs. Then Mel came out and was a sport, especially for Mel. And he seemed sober, even if Ricky seemed not to be. (Note: was the whiskey glass a prop? We’ll never truly know, will we?) But more importantly –

Mel began to speak, Ricky came back out and —- BLEEP, BLEEP, BLEEP. Well, he said something but we never knew what.

The same way Jonah Hill said something funny they wouldn’t let us hear – BLEEP, BLEEP, BLEEP – while we had to listen to all of his other bombing lines.

giphy

Jane's reaction to Jonah's schtick almost makes her dress forgivable... almost.

Jane’s reaction says it all

In the same fashion that Amy Schumer told Jennifer Lawrence – BLEEP, BLEEP, BLEEP – …well, we couldn’t hear a bunch of that either.

And that’s how it went. Over and over again.

I kind of like the idea that celebs don’t seem to give a damn what happens on a show like this. Everyone is either lit or overly appreciative to God (Note: Whomever you may imagine Her or Him to be), and there’s always those rare cases of sincerity – to friends and family (as if it were a cell phone plan) or even a handful of co-workers.

And then there's this

And then there’s this

When the camera captures that and we, as spectators get to enjoy it, it’s like a candid snapshot of a strange counter reality – which is not as fake as you usually get but not 100% real. When you can count more than 10-20 bleeps, heck…THAT’S NOT FAIR! IT JUST ISN’T!! WAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

RICKKKYYYYYYY

RICKKKYYYYYYY

If I sound like a six year-old well….what do you mean if??? Okay – full confession – I guessed the winners of 8 out of 25 categories on Sunday night’s show – scoring a pathetic 31% average of correct choices. Maybe that’s real issue. Of course, I’d be worried if I really understood the Hollywood Foreign Press but hey, this was embarrassing. I’m a gay guy and I didn’t pick Lady Gaga to win for American Horror Story: Hotel. Instead I went with Kirsten Dunst for Fargo – a show I’ve never even seen! (Note: And please, please don’t say I have to watch it, that this season was the best and it’ll change my life……ahhhhhh!!!!).

Rah rah ah-ah-ah! Gaga Oo-la la!

Rah rah ah-ah-ah! Gaga Oo-la la!

Well, at least Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) didn’t win for the 29th time. Sure, the one year I bet on her they give it to…Rachel Bloom??? Who the hell is she? I haven’t seen Crazy Ex-Girlfriend either. And let’s be honest – NEITHER HAVE YOU.

There were lots of other surprises that made not much sense. Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle won for best comedy series – well, we know you certainly haven’t seen that one. And I haven’t either. But now I guess I (we?) will. Maybe.

I guess it’s actually kind of great that lesser known stuff wins. But then Stallone wins for best supporting actor for Creed – which you sort of have to like given it’s been almost 40 years since the first Rocky; Kate Winslet gets it for supporting actress for Steve Jobs; and Aaron Sorkin wins screenplay for that film over the lesser known writers (who isn’t?) of Spotlight, Room and The Big Short. Not that it’s ever illogical when either Sorkin or Charlie Kaufman receives a writing award. What’s illogical is why I (or you) complain about it or expect anything different.

The champ

The champ

I’m here to tell you that you can go crazy predicting Hollywood. And show you. Clearly.

Spending more than three hours of your life watching this and an equal amount of time writing about it before and after it airs does that to you – especially after decades of living here and working in the industry. Well, whose fault is that? Squarely mine.

Still, give up show business? No way! This is a commitment, voluntary though it may be. Sort of what McMurphy discovers about several of his mental asylum friends halfway through One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But that movie won FIVE Golden Globe awards back in 1976 – a time when all of this made a whole lot more sense. Not like this year when The Revenant wins three and Steve Jobs and The Martian both win a puny two. And Joy and Creed get just one. Heck, that’s as many as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend!

OK.. the show has spontaneous musical numbers, I can probably get behind it

OK.. the show has spontaneous musical numbers, I can probably get behind it

Well, at least my fave new show of this year – Mr. Robot – won best drama series. Though that’s only because I listened to my students and started binge watching it several days ago. Yes, the children are our futures. I’ll close with that. Thanks Hollywood Foreign Press for…not very much. #Tina&Amy2017.

Miss any of the Chair’s tweet beat during the Globes? Catch up here!