Every year, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences rises early (at least by Pacific Daylight standards) one weekday morning and announces the nominees for the Academy Awards. And every year, without fail, what follows is just as reliable an occurrence, as my friend Jeffrey Stewart sarcastically tweeted about following the nominations:
“@wcwyt Let’s commend the talent and hard work of all the nominees by immediately concentrating on who should have been nominated instead.”
Jeffrey is absolutely right (and by the way, if you aren’t following him on Twitter — @wcwyt – you may wish to consider “self-deporting” from Todd Flora’s America, you fool!) Everyone for whom the Oscars matter – technical industry folks, actors, entertainment press, and just us die-hard movie fans, start to look at what is NOT there. Who got “snubbed,” who really didn’t deserve a nomination. But you know what. I’m one of them. Jeffrey – I plead guilty. But I stop short of outright apology because often who is and isn’t nominated IS newsworthy for industries that rate performance. It’s an addicting sport of sorts. Therefore, I will now proceed to do a little of exactly what Jeffrey admonished, but also throw out some compliments and positive observations as well.
- The Best Director category includes nominations for Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig. Now, due to my wife’s very legitimate, nightmare-inducing aversion to “horror” films, I have yet to see “Get Out.” Friends have assured us it’s not what she thinks, and so we plan on watching it “during the daytime” as she has requested. But even without seeing it, I’m a huge Jordan Peele fan, and love the fact that he turned an obscure independent film into one of the year’s most popular and talked about movies. Given what I hear is a suspenseful and at times, scary, satire on the state of race relations in America, I have full confidence “Get Out” is the kind of envelope-pushing content that may even change movie making. Bravo, Academy, for recognizing this first-time directoral effort.
Speaking of first-time directors, Ms. Gerwig is already a family favorite as an independent movie darling. I am particularly pleased to additionally see her nominated as a first-time director. Did Natalie Portman’s shaming of “all male nominees” for Director at the Golden Globes help boost late voting for Gerwig to put her into the category? While I hope she didn’t need it, I sure hope Portman’s effort made the difference if she did! It’s shameful that in a year where Wonder Woman (Patti Jenkins), Mudbound (Dee Rees), First, They Killed My Father (Angelina Jolie), Detroit (Oscar Winner Catherine Bigelow), and Gerwig’s own Lady Bird were released, Hollywood SHOULD have felt ashamed had one of these remarkable women not been nominated. But I’m glad it was specifically Gerwig. Lady Bird is a tremendous film, passionately acted, and efficiently told – something first time directors have a hard time doing come editing time (they want to get it all in there). It’s a great story and the only real love letter to Sacramento I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.
- The Oscars are still nominating films for Best Picture without a numerical limit. This year, a diverse array of 9 films are nominated, making water cooler chatter and the actual voting more fun, the ultimate result being the winner is tougher to guess. Sure, “3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” has been winning on the awards circuit, but for the Golden Globes, it wasn’t competing with anything in the comedy or musical category like “Lady Bird” or a cult hit like “Get Out.” Will “The Shape of Water,” the nominations leader with 13, perhaps finally take out the Missouri tale of loss and redemption? I have no idea – isn’t it great?!
- Jimmy Kimmel is back as host. Stephen Colbert is the late-night host I watch, but I’m also a huge admirer of Jimmy Kimmel. I think he performed well as Host last year and it should be good hearing his jokes about misnamed winners and other made-up mistakes he’ll probably doctor up as humorous mea culpa’s to last year’s La La Land / Moonlight mix-up. Next Year, though, we should be looking for a woman to host again.
- My favorite leading lady, the right honorable Ms. Jessica Chastain, was not nominated for Best Actress. Why? Because apparently the Academy is as addicted to Meryl Streep as America is to oil. I’m sorry, but Meryl Streep practically slept through The Post. Was she good? Sure. But exceptional — worthy of stealing someone else’s slot? Not…even…close. And yet the Academy once again couldn’t help themselves. It’s pathetic. Meanwhile, Jessica Chastain absolutely blew the doors off of “Molly’s Game,” so convincingly playing controversial “poker entrepreneur” Molly Bloom – working with Aaron Sorkin’s words no less – that I’m convinced she’s secretly hunting Toby Maguire down “Zero Dark Thirty style,” and we’ll hopefully never hear from his sorry ass again (You’ll understand this point when you see Michael Cera’s portrayal of Maguire in the movie). I’m just disgusted by this injustice.
- I continue to be flabbergasted by the lack of love for The Big Sick. I know I’m not alone in thinking this brilliant true story of Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon’s very strange love story was overlooked. It was incredibly poignant and laugh-out-loud funny at times, EASILY making it the year’s best “Dramedy” in my view. It’s Original Screenplay nod is nice for Nanjiani and wife Emily, but the movie should have earned a Best Picture spot and perhaps a Best Supporting Actress turn for Holly Hunter, who plays Gordon’s mother.
- “The Lego Batman” was completely hosed for best animated feature! Hey, it’s one of the cartoon movies I saw IN a theater this year, and I was laughing almost the entire movie. So, while “Coco” is the favorite, and this isn’t my biggest battle to fight (by a longshot), I just wanted an opportunity to show some solidarity with my Lego Batman brothers and sisters out there. I’m with you all!
THE WHAT THE HELL?!
- No love whatsoever for James Franco and his passion project, The Disaster Artist. By all accounts, the movie is a huge hit with critics and fans, and Franco is apparently magnificent as real-life dreamer cum horrible movie maker Tommy Wiseau. He and the film have received multiple nominations leading up to The Golden Globes, where Franco was awarded Best Actor for a Male in a Comedy or Musical. However, following the Globes, Franco was accused of hypocrisy for supporting the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements at the event while being, according to some, a predator himself.
(Stay with me and hear this out). Now, if Mr. Franco has behaved as poorly as described, it is despicable and he probably should be spending some time in sensitivity counseling, if not jail. He owes some serious amends to his victims. But, through some personal friends, I happen to know that most people’s image of James Franco, the persona, is NOT James Franco, the man. He is, based on personally heard 2nd-hand accounts, whip-smart, gentle, and kind, albeit a prankster who loves a good time (He’s friends with Seth Rogen!). So, among all of the cases of genuine assholes out there in Hollywood (Harvey, Jeremy Piven – the jerks you weren’t surprised to hear about), I naturally hope these stories are mis-understandings at worst. Again, I just hope so.
But even if Franco is guilty, here’s the kicker ….
- THEY NOMINATED KOBE BRYANT FOR AN OSCAR! Are you f’ing kidding me?! It’s true. Bryant’s film, “Dear Basketball,” is nominated in the Best Short Film (Animated) category. Ok. So, are we going to see Kobe Bryant show up for the Oscars? If he does, he would certainly show a lot of nerve. Let’s remember a couple things about Kobe Bryant:
- He was accused and tried for rape for an incident many years ago in Eagle, Colorado
- He was so publicly shamed for the incident, that he wrote a public letter of apology, conducted a head-held-in-shame press conference, and, don’t forget …
- … bought his wife, Vanessa, an apology diamond ring so big it almost needed a forklift
- Then he changed his number from “8” to “24” for the remainder of his career… as if that somehow “erased” his misdeeds
Will the Oscar crowd be as dumb as the Lakers organization, and RETIRE BOTH NUMBERS (ignoring all reasons for the birth of number 24), in the form of welcoming him to the red carpet as something OTHER than a sexual aggressor? Will there be protests over the nomination? I sure hope that if James Franco is going to be snubbed for his transgressions despite being a legitimate and talented movie maker, the #MeToo and #TimesUp leadership – who I very much support – give Bryant holy Hell.
I’m certainly looking forward to the Oscars on March 4, where perhaps this will be the year I score 90% or better on my ballot of predictions.