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Not Everyone Gets a Statue: Oscar 2019 Predictions

I have no intention of watching the Oscars (although my wife might persuade me to hate-watch them), but I’m curious to see if I can call these shots with any accuracy using my default cynicism as a guidepost. With each category, I’m going to call make a Probable Prediction, and a Sleeper Prediction. I’m not going to make any assessment of What Should Win, because I don’t care.

So let’s away!

Best Picture:

“Black Panther”
“BlacKkKlansman”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Roma”
“A Star Is Born”
“Vice”

We’ve got a universally acclaimed superhero movie, a Spike Lee joint, a rock biopic, an all-girls Costume Drama, a period piece about bridging the racial divide, a foreign film about the underprivileged, the fifth remake of a Hollywood drama, and a MASH-mask for Donald Trump. There’s a lot of different ways you can call this.

Generally speaking, the films that get The Most Nominations are to be seriously considered. But Roma being a foreign film, I consider it a lock to win Best Foreign Film, and I don’t know that the Academy will want to do both.

The Favourite thus jumps to the lead as the Movie to Beat. But it’s got that Costume Drama thing going against it. But it’s all about Women, so it’s got that going for it.

I’m gonna say it probably wins.

Sleeper Prediction: Black Panther. Everyone would love that.

Lead Actor:

Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

I really don’t want to think Christian Bale is going to ride Prosthetics and Weight Gain to an Oscar, but the politics might do it for him. They didn’t nominate this movie for Film, Both of the Actor, Director, and Screenplay to have it come up bupkis. However, he’s already won an Oscar, and this role already got him a Golden Globe, so I wouldn’t say he’s a shoe-in.

So I’m going with Rami Malek, because everyone still loves Queen for some reason. That would be a safe call, no one would complain about it, it’s not some White Dude playing a Historical White Dude.

Sleeper Prediction: Christian Bale. It could still happen.

Lead Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

I’ve seen enough of Can You Ever Forgive Me to know that McCarthy’s not going to win. Not because she isn’t good in it. She is. And it was smart of her to expand her palette. But she’s not getting an Oscar.

I can’t really see Lady Gaga getting one either.

Did anyone see The Wife? Because it sounds like every movie that Established Good Actresses Get Nominated and Don’t Win For. Slight chance they give her the Paid Your Dues statue, given that this is her 7th nomination with no wins, but I’m not gonna bet too hard on it.

I’m going with Yalitza Aparicio. That would be the Statement of the night.

Sleeper PredictionOlivia Colman.

Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

This seems pretty straightforward. Sam Elliot and Sam Rockwell are not a big enough deal right now. Adam Driver isn’t going to be the White Dude that wins in a Movie About Racism. That would be #OscarsSoWhite. Instead, the statue goes to Mahershala Ali. He’s So Hot Right Now.

Sleeper PredictionRichard E. Grant. Amusing Gay Dude who dies of AIDS. Can’t rule it out.

Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams, “Vice”
Marina de Tavira, “Roma”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

I’m not gonna sweat this one too hard. Rachel Weisz is the one to beat. She’s the best performance in the most-nominated film (Emma Stone is pretty good, but Weisz nails it). I say she gets it.

Sleeper PredictionRegina King.

Director:

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”
Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Alfonso Cuarón, “Roma”
Adam McKay, “Vice”

Spike Lee has never won an Oscar. He’s been nominated several times, but never won. Then again, Yorgos Lanthimos never has, either. But he’s got several chances. I’m expecting a Paid-Your-Dues Oscar for Lee.

Sleeper Prediction: Yorgos Lanthimos. He’s the New Hotness.

Animated Feature:

“Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
“Isle of Dogs,” Wes Anderson
“Mirai,” Mamoru Hosoda
“Ralph Breaks the Internet,” Rich Moore, Phil Johnston
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

I’ve already stated why Wes Anderson Will Not Win an Oscar:

His new film about animated dogs on a giant trash island near Japan is cultural appropriation, you see.

Given that, I feel like the Most Woke response would be to give a statue to an actual Japanese animated film. That would send the Message.

Sleeper PredictionSpider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, because the other two are sequels and because someone might grandstand about the late Stan Lee from the podium. If they can bring in those comic book viewers, they might build an audience for the telecast.

Animated Short:

“Animal Behaviour,” Alison Snowden, David Fine
“Bao,” Domee Shi
“Late Afternoon,” Louise Bagnall
“One Small Step,” Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
“Weekends,” Trevor Jimenez

Um.

Yeah…

whatever gif

Adapted Screenplay:

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Joel Coen , Ethan Coen
“BlacKkKlansman,” Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Star Is Born,” Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters

In keeping with my initial predictions regarding If Beale Street Could Talk, which turned out right, I’m predicting it to win here. Let it Ride, as it were.

Sleeper Prediction: A Star is Born. No real reason, I just don’t see them shutting it out.

Original Screenplay:

“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“First Reformed,” Paul Schrader
“Green Book,” Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón
“Vice,” Adam McKay

And based on the same logic, I think they’ll throw McKay and Vice a bone in this category, given that he’s also nominated for Director. That way we can have our moment of Political Grandstanding, as is tradition.

Sleeper Prediction: Green Book

What follows are the Technical and minor Awards. I’m not going to dig that hard into these; I’ll just call some shots:

Cinematography: The Favourite

Documentary Feature: RBG

Documentary ShortPeriod. End of Sentence.

Live Action ShortDetainment

Foreign Language FilmRoma

Film EditingBlacKkKlansman

Sound EditingA Quiet Place

Sound MixingBohemian Rhapsody

Production DesignBlack Panther

Original ScoreMary Poppins Returns

Original Song: “All the Stars”

Makeup and HairVice

Costume DesignThe Favourite

Visual EffectsFirst Man

 

How Good Were My Year-Old Oscar Predictions?

A little under a year ago, I fisked a Variety article written about the day after last year’s Oscars. My purpose was to make fun of Variety’s substanceless click-bait, but as it evolved, I emitted a handful of sneering predictions. Which is to say, inasmuch as I participated in the anticipation of a program I never watch, Variety won that exchange. But let’s see how I did:

Regarding Marwen:

Prediction: Carell gets a best actor statue for this weepie, since it’s a mostly comedic actor playing a tear-jerk. The Academy loves that crap. Zemeckis gets nominated, doesn’t win. The film doesn’t get nominated, and everyone gets pissy about how that can even happen.

I was right about the film not getting nominated, wrong about everything else. I expected it to be competent enough to be Oscar-worthy. Nope.

Regarding First Man:

Prediction: This film will do reasonably well at the box office, and won’t get any nominations.

Got one for Production Design. I guess that means I was wrong.

Regarding If Beale Street Could Talk:

That’s more like it. Something obscure and from the director of a previous Best Picture. This will do garbage box office and be hailed by the people who hail things as Significant and Powerful. It will get some nominations, maybe one Oscar, for screenplay or something.

If Beale Street Could Talk Domestic Box Office : $10,912,908

If Beale Street Could Talk Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score: 95% Fresh

“With Beale Street, (director Barry) Jenkins cements his status as this generation’s cinematic poet laureate of the American condition.”

-Matt Ward, Cinematic Considerations

Oscar Nominations: 2, for Best Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay.

nailed-it-4

Regarding The Favourite:

Nominated for Costume Design. Wins for Costume Design. The End.

Well, I was wrong about that. Best Picture, Best Actress, Two for Best Supporting Actress, Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, AND Costume Design. Although if it wins for Costume Design and nothing else, I will be proved retroactively right. So there’s that.

Regarding Isle of Dogs, well, I’ve beaten that one to death. But it ended up with a nomination for Animated Film, as predicted. That means a win.

Regarding Hereditary: 

If a horror film ever gets Oscar Gold, it’s going to have to be blessed by Sundance or something else first. And it’s going to need to have Topical Politics, so everyone can high-five each other about how much it would bother Mike Pence if he saw it.

Prediction: Toni Collette gets a nomination. No idea if she wins or not.

I was right about the film, wrong about Toni Collette. I underestimated Hollywood’s love of self-referential entertainment (Lady Gaga, A Star is Born, really?).

Regarding Mary, Queen of Scots:

My initial response is to say that Costume Dramas don’t win Oscars, but some instinct tells me not to leave out the possibility that they’ll nominate both Ronan and Robbie for the same award, that Drama and Sisterhood might ensue. Besides, Ronan-Robbie has a certain ring to it.

My instinct was right, but should have been applied to The Favourite. My initial response remains undecided.

Regarding Boy Erased:

This wins Best Picture. You heard it here first.

LOL. That’ll learn me.

Regarding Vice:

I think the whole “Prosthetics and Weight Gain for Oscars” thing might be played out now that they finally gave one to Gary Oldman for doing it. But Dick Cheney might make a good MASH-mask for Donald Trump, so who knows.

Best Picture, Best Lead Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director. These are the Big Boys. Mike Pence will totally hate it if it wins for something. So I’m going to call this a win.

I didn’t make any predictions regarding Black Panther, so that’s a wash.

Overall Score: 3 Solid Right, 2 Partially Right, 3 Solid Wrong. I am the Detroit Lions of Making Oscar Predictions a Year Out.

Next: Winner Predictions based on Nominations

Quick Review: The Favourite

the-favourite-image-credit_-yorgos-lanthimos-rachel-weisz-olivia-colman-e1532374834538One of these days, I’m going to write one of these that’s not about the Stuart dynasty in some way.

Queen Anne reigned briefly at the beginning of the 18th century, and spent most of her reign at war with France over who got to sit on the throne of Spain (that Hapsburg penchant for cousin marriage caught up with them). She is not well-remembered. Fat, sad, gouty, and childless, she seemed largely at the mercy of court favorites, especially the Churchills (yes, Sir Winston’s ancestors, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and his wife). Her 17(!) pregnancies resulted in 4 live babies, none of whom made it past the age of 11. When she died, the very Glorious Revolution that put her sister and then her on the throne decreed that a Hanoverian clod named George should occupy it instead of the surviving members of her family. In short, in an unlucky dynasty, she was perhaps the unluckiest, almost certainly the saddest. Even her grandfather’s grandmother Mary, in her proud, defiant exile, never approached that level of melancholy.

Now, historians will quibble over how true that really was, and point out counter-narrative facts, like how Anne presided over Cabinet meetings far more regularly than her predecessors or successors. But this is the movies, and the movies will print the legend. So Queen Anne becomes a cipher controlled by other women.

And more than controlled. Because this is a 21st century film, we must treat 18th century gossip-rag rumor (the Gawker of its day) as Gospel truth, and believe that Her Majesty was giving away more than her trust to her favorite women. We will leave utterly unexplored the relationship between her and her husband, Prince George of Denmark, the father of those 17 pregnancies, nor give any credence to the widely-reported rumor that she loved him deeply and was heartbroken at the loss of him. That kind of film won’t give us a chance to see Emma Stone naked.

That being grumbled, did I like the damn thing? Yes. It aspires to a kind of Barry Lyndon feel, and it gets there. Rachel Weisz, as Sara Churchill, is at least as much fun as Glenn Close in Dangerous Liasons. Actually, more so, because Sara Churchill has a depth to her that the Marquise de Merteuil does not have. Churchill doesn’t play the game just to be Queen of the Mountain, she actually cares about the politics. She favors the vigorous prosecution of the war with France, even at the risk of her husband, the great general Marlborough. She labors against France just as her descendant Sir Winston would labor against Germany, and for the same reason. Louis XIV was no Hitler, but he was the head of the strongest state in Europe with a habit of bullying smaller states and seeking to make himself the arbiter of Western Civilization. The War of the Spanish Succession was in this respect as epoch-defining as the Napoleonic wars were a century later. And the film focuses on this, brings it right front and center. The script gives Weisz a chance to elevate Sara Churchill from mere schemer to stateswoman.

By contrast, Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) has no interest other than not going back to the scullery. Which, who could blame her, but the cynical disinterest in policy, the refusal to even countenance that her actions will have consequences, is not driven home until the last scene, when it becomes clear what she has bought herself. The ending is dour to the point of being anticlimactic.

But that’s what happens when you try to do history, which gives us very few third-act turnarounds. In real life, the Churchills were disgraced, the war party-Whigs sent packing, and peace with France was negotiated. The Churchills lost, and Anne died a few years later. That was how it was, and the film finds a poignant if irretrievably current way to express that. Peace to all of them, and to the shades of them we conjure up on film, just for good measure.

Not-So-Quick Review: The Man in the High Castle and the Gotcha Problem

I actually finished Season 3 of The Man in the High Castle, which I had been seriously anticipating for a while. People who were also fans told me it was something of a disappointment, and actually a chore to get through. This proved to be right: I watched the season in shortish binges and the whole time found myself wondering why anything was happening. There was a general lack of overarching narrative/conflict, such as Season 2 had. Now that I’ve watched all 10 episodes, I have nothing but questions, and not the cliffhanger kind, that you want answers to. These are the kind of questions that I suspect all have the same answer.

I should also point out that I have a copy but have not read the novel by Phillip K. Dick. I’m thinking I might read it now. It’s long, but I can do it pretty quickly.

So, before I continue, let me just leave a big old banner that says…

file jan 07, 11 12 51 am

  1. Why did we bring characters back from the point of death just to kill them off gratuitously? Was Joe Blake’s death supposed to mean something? Was breaking him on the wheel and then having Julianna slit his throat supposed to be a commentary on the Reich? Like how there’s really no room to not be a monster in the Reich? Yeah, I kind of knew that. We kind of all knew that. Finding bad guys in the Reich is not a surprise. The whole point of the John Smith character is that he puts a human face above the jackboots.
    But whatever, something had to be done with Joe. But nothing needed to be done with Frank. You could have left Frank dead at the end of last season. For that matter, I don’t know how he was supposed to be alive, hundreds of miles away. And why do that just to kill him off? Was that scene in the desert between him and Kito supposed to underscore Kito’s very Japanese sense of obligation? Again, we already knew that. As for Frank’s narrative this season…
  2. Am I really supposed to believe that the guerrilla art campaign is going to amount to something? Like, I get it, a symbol of hatred. Make the People Woke or whatever. But there’s been a resistance for 20 years. People know this. Their rulers are hateful. People know this. So like…is that it?
  3. Is there a point to John Smith’s promotion to Reichsmarshall of America? Dude’s an SS general when we meet him, the American equivalent of Reinhard Heydrich (and may I just say that Smith besting Heydrich last season to get the key data point necessary to prevent nuclear war was a marvelous high point at the end of last season). And yes, the cloak-and-dagger between him and Rockwell and Hoover (cute historical touches both), proved an interesting plot for the first half of the season. But when it’s over and Smith is now Reichsmarshall, he remains essentially the same, a dude taking orders from Berlin. There’s nothing showing how his duties change, how the political aspects of his job elevate him. He’s still chasing the Man in the High Castle and interviewing suspects. He doesn’t even inherit Rockwell’s goofy baton. So why have that happen at all?
  4. Is Julianna a completely different person now? She is one of those characters who’s all over the map. Last season she was trying to escape, even hobble the Resistance to save Joe Blake; this season she’s killing Blake and leading guerrilla operations to blow up superweapons. Are we planning on having some kind of atonement with the capital-R Resistance? Or are we just going to keep having her do whatever the plot needs her to do so that Surprises can happen?
  5. Are we ever going to get an explanation of how “Moving Between Worlds” works? We saw Trade Minister Decent Guy do it with some joss sticks. Julianna’s sister did it… somehow. Dr. Mengele has a machine that sort of does it through an anomaly, but not well or reliably (yet). And now Julianna can do it by… magic? Electroshock? Guys, this is the premise of the story. If you’re going to have the titular character understand it, can we just do the exposition dump already?

I think the problem lies in two elements: 1) the economic need of TV to fit Content to More Seasons, and 2) the habit of High-Concept dramas to use Gotchas.

As I discussed here, the economics of TV, requires that storylines get stretched out over longer and longer seasons, because successful TV shows need to keep going so they can make their producers money. This is what happened to How I Met Your Mother: a concept and ending that would have worked well enough had the series closed after 6 seasons became completely unbearable after 9. So probably High Castle is in a busywork/stretching phase, giving characters “something to do”.

The other thing is a habit that Prestige Television likes to do to viewers, which is to say, sucker-punching with a sudden development or death. Just when you think you know what’s going on, boom, here’s an assassin or explosion or tap at the shoulder and NOW EVERYTHING’S DIFFERENT WHOAAAA.

Hence, Joe Blake and Franks’ death. Hence, Helen’s abandonment of John Smith in the last episode. Hence, pretty much everything.

Hopefully Season 4 will be better. For now, I’m gonna read the book.

Quick Review: Mary Queen of Scots

MV5BNDVmOGI4MTMtYmNmNC00MTliLTlkYjQtYmU2N2EyNDk2YTAwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjM4NTM5NDY@._V1_What is this movie about?

This was the question Wifey and I asked each other after viewing it. Ostensibly, it’s about a great many things, as a great many things were involved with the life of Mary Queen of Scots, the last Catholic monarch of Scotland (you might say, the last monarch of Scotland, period, if you consider her son to have been the first monarch of the United Kingdom, even though it wasn’t called that for another 100 years. You see the problem?), and this film tries to hit on all of them, to give us an insight on her and her tumultuous reign.

And it does a pretty decent job of it. Mary had one of the more colorful lives of 16th century monarchs, and that is saying something. Queen of Scots from the tender age of Six Days Old (Which was completely normal. The Stuarts were an incredibly unlucky dynasty, beset with early deaths and long regencies. Here’s a Reddit Post with the details), she was carted off to France as a child to marry the Dauphin (what that “Reign” show was all about). For about a year, when said Dauphin became Francis II of France, she was both Queen Regnant of Scotland and Queen Consort of France. Then Francis died of meningitis, and back to Scotland she went. This is where the movie picks up.

Finding herself the Catholic Queen of a country gone full Protestant in her absence, she attempted to hoe a tolerant row, and was rewarded with disrespect and conspiracy by the Reformers, especially John Knox, whom the movie finds very quotable for that Whore of Babylon rhetoric that 16th Century Calvinists were so keen on. But that’s just one wrinkle. Like many a Scottish Monarch, she had to deal with the bloody English. Not for the usual Overlording, mind you, but because of The Tudors fathomless inability to reproduce (the dynasty was three generations, and five monarchs, the last three of which were siblings who all died childless) made Mary the heir of her cousin Elizabeth through her grandmother, the daughter of Henry VII of England. At the opening of the film, Elizabeth is still young and could ostensibly still marry and produce children, so Mary’s rhetoric about being the Heir to England has very much an air of imperialist presumption about it. Which is why the film’s attempt to dress these two up as Sister Monarchs torn apart by Teh Patriarchy doesn’t quite work. Mary and Elizabeth were rivals for the same reason that Edward III of England and Phillip VI of France were: dynastic politics and claims to thrones. Their status as women was to a large degree incidental to their political problems.

Allow me to prove my brief. Let’s say that instead of being born a girl named Mary, the only surviving child of James V of Scotland had been born a boy named Robert (I’m saying Robert because to earlier Stuart monarchs had that name, and so as to avoid confusion with all the Jameses), and that from the age of six days old, he reigned as Robert IV of Scotland. What precisely would be different? Granted, he would not have been sent out of the country to marry a Princess of France, but Mary’s sojourn there doesn’t seem to have cast a blight on her legitimacy as a monarch. But he still would have been faced with a similar set of choices:

  1. To remain a Catholic, as his father had been, or to embrace the Reformed Church.
  2. To marry someone which would not cause antagonism with England (especially has both James IV and James V were undone by wars with their southern neighbor).
  3. To do all the other things expected of a Renaissance monarch: manage the nobility and burgeoning middle-class, govern the public fisc, keep order and justice, protect the realm from outside threats, etc.

Being a male monarch might have made this easier, but as the above link of the history of the Stuart dynasty will tell you, it by no means ensured success. Two of the Stuarts were assassinated by nobility (three if you count Robert III’s intended heir), one was killed in a civil war, two as a result of war with England, and one blown up by one of his own cannon. And all of that is before Mary.

But this is an argument for historians. Does the film work? I think so. It doesn’t not work. It’s well-shot; it’s well-acted. The ins and outs of the plot make sense. I just don’t know that it works as well as Outlaw King did. I don’t think it quite packs the emotional punch it wants to. The relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is so distant and political that I have a hard time believing that they really mean anything to each other. Thus, while both Ronan and Robbie seem to absorb the camera when they’re on screen, ultimately I’m not sure why Robbie’s Elizabeth I really cares what happens to her cousin. Mary is nothing but trouble to Elizabeth from the beginning. Why would she be bothered by chopping her head off?

I mean, other than the fact that it completely demolishes her claim that she’s not her father, and perhaps strikes home the object lesson that a successful monarch is obliged to shed blood to keep the throne, as her father, grandfather, and almost any of her ancestors could have told her. Other than that, what does she care?

So while I get the dichotomy the film shows us: that unmarried, childless Elizabeth has a long peaceful reign, but the fertile, overthrown Mary ultimately wins by having a son who unites both realms, I think the film would have worked better if it had either given Mary and Elizabeth equal time, or made their relationship more honestly antagonistic.

But then, history doesn’t fit into narratives that way.

Bottom Line: If you dig on historical pieces, this one is honest and human.

 

And Now The Oscars Might Have No Host At All…

So Sayeth Variety:

Another option being tossed around is not having any host at all, but rather “a bunch of huge celebs, something ‘SNL’ style, and buzzy people” to keep the show moving, the insiders said. A stunt like a group monologue was floated, one source added.

What’s interesting, aside from the nap I’m going to need because I’m so tired of being right all the time, is that they’re blaming Kevin Hart for not standing there like a man at a mark, with a whole army shooting at him:

One top talent rep wondered why the Academy didn’t more thoroughly vet the host, particularly given that Hart has been asked about some of these jokes in the past.

“My clients are bummed. They’re bummed Kevin didn’t stay the course and serve as an example. It dampens the experience, hopefully [the Academy] can pull it together so we can focus on the excitement,” said the rep.

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Why, that looks suspiciously like confirmation of the thing Kevin Hart said when he “passed on the apology”. You know, the fact that he’s been asked about this stuff before, has dealt with it, and doesn’t want to deal with it again. But… if they knew that, then why would they offer him the host job, with no seeming plan in place for dealing with the predictable outrage?

They weren’t planning on the outrage happening, now were they?

Was this the plan?

  1. Hire edgy (but non-threatening) comic to host.
  2. Wait for someone to notice past edginess, which does not jibe with present edginess requirements.
  3. Issue ultimatum that he apologize for past edginess.
  4. ???????
  5. Edgy (but chastened) comic hosts new Super-Rainbow-Friendly Oscars. PROFIT!

I think that was the plan. Then again, if they’re seriously considering turning the Oscar’s into a SNL-style group-hosting madness, they might not know what “plan” means. Then again, if they actually do that, I might actually watch the Oscars this year, just to taste the sheer horror of it.

Probably not, though.

Do the Oscars Really Need a Host?

So here’s how the Kevin Hart thing went down:

  1. The Academy (whoever they are) offers a comedian a job being meh funny for a few hours while pretty people in gowns walk across the stage to announce other pretty people in gowns and then give each other shiny statues.
  2. Activists on Twitter (whoever they are) digs back through his tweets and his standup routine from ten years ago and discovered stuff that was not all about the LGBT community.
  3. The Usual Call for Apology is issued.
  4. Comedian posts video stating that he’s Moved On from That Time, and everyone else should.
  5. This is Not Good Enough.
  6. Comedian posts another video declining to apologize on the grounds that he’s Addressed This Before.
  7. This is Super Not Good Enough.
  8. Comedian announces that he’s declined the gig, whereupon he apologizes.

Other than the apology coming after the point when it might have done any good (not really, though), this is obligatory. The only question is how soon we’ll get the Burned by Oscar Controversey, Comedian Mounts Comeback narrative. My guess is next year, depending on whether his next flick with The Rock performs above or below box office expectations.

The obvious question now is, who hosts now? The more interesting question is, why anyone? I’m completely serious. The perennial complaint of the Oscars is they go on too long. What better way to slice the Gordian knot of technical awards and laundry lists of people to thank than removing the superfluous element of what’s ostensibly an award show?

All the introductory elements of the show can be handled by one of those navel-gazing retrospectives. All the introducing can be done by some red-carpet casualty who’s not up for any awards (that’s 90% of what happens now anyway).

All hosting the Oscars gets for you is the harrumphing consensus that you should never do it again, partly because one of your weak one-liners Offended someone, and partly because you’re Not Billy Chrystal, who remains the only acceptable Oscar host (along with Zombie Jonnie Carson) in the eyes of people who care about such things. And there’s a low six-figure paycheck, which sounds nice from where I sit, but I don’t have to pay for Southern California real estate or Hollywood divorce lawyers.

Skip it, give the people their statues, and let’s get on with the mindless speculation about what’s gonna go up next year.