Maybe I’ll see Nomadland, Maybe I Won’t

I may have made fun of it a while back, but honestly, I don’t hate the concept. I might scope it if it rolls through one of the apps I have. I cannot, however, promise that I will do that. Movies in this era are largely an individualized aesthetic exercise, not a community one. The atomization of entertainment has accomplished this. There will be big tent things – Marvel Cinematic Universe and Game of Thrones-type things going forward, but with diminishing returns I suspect. They’re expensive, and depend on a consumer base that can turn on you if you don’t give them exactly what they want. See, also, everything I’ve written about Star Wars.

This means that the future of the Oscars is in the Art House. The double-tier of Art Gratia Artis vs. Cinematic Circus for the Masses — Nomadland on one hand, Godzilla vs. Kong on the other — will become more pronounced. There will still be an audience for the Oscars, as there will be a lot of money in making sure there is (one might argue that all the dim Wokery of recent years reflects not just the actual sentiments of Hollywood but a need to generate controversey, live-action clickbait, if you will). But as a reflection of the people it will pass. It’s going to become a lot easier for most folk to simply not care.

This will become exacerbated as streaming becomes the normal way to see a film for the first time. Scorcese was fighting a rear-guard action. There might be a boomlet in going to theaters when the pandemic finally ends, but all the economic forces are shoving against prioritizing the theater experience. The younger generations are not as devoted to it. Family movie nights are going to be replaced by Family Movie Tickets on the Streaming Service of your choice.

And because of this, the films that make the most impact will be harder to determine. Netflix is famously secretive about its streaming numbers. Thus, the kind of box-office academy coup wherein a less-artistic but popular film (everyone talks about Shakespeare in Love, but does anyone remember when Titanic and Gladiator won Best Picture?) overwhelms the snobs’ favorite will become harder and harder to pull off.

This means that Oscars are going to be harder and harder to pre-game and will include more and more films that nobody has seen. It will eventually be as relevant as the Emmys. Huzzah.

Let Us Now Tap-Dance on the Grave of the Oscars

I don’t care how dead the horse; I’m gonna beat it more.

Observe the nominees for Best Picture:

The Father: Someone feeds Anthony Hopkins from his gruel bowl for two hours. Feels ensue.

Judas and the Black Messiah: Did you Know that the FBI infiltrated groups hostile to the United States Government? I am shocked, shocked I say! And Appalled!

Mank: Rhymes with stank. I saw this on Netflix, because I thought it might be interesting. It isn’t. It’s just the usual Hollywood Onanism. Not even Gary Oldman can breathe life into this opera of obvious. Fincher needs to start picking better projects.

Minari: Family goes farming. They’re Korean so it’s A Profound Commentary On Our Times. Granny shows up and cusses to keep people awake.

Nomadland: Eat, Pray, Love goes slumming.

A Promising Young Woman. I saw most of this. It’s not bad. There’s even an aspirative nod towards elements of Greek mythology. I found myself re-writing the third-act confrontation in my head, and the final minute should be part of the Merriam-Webster entry on “contrived” but I didn’t hate it.

The Sound of Metal: I might still check this one out. There probably won’t be enough Metal, though.

The Trial of the Chicago 7. Okay, Boomer.

All of these are Movies With Causes: Old Age Care, Racism, Eat the Rich, Immigrants, Poverty, Rape Culture, Disability, and Civil Rights for Leftists (imagine a cinematic hagiography of the Capitol Rioters. Even describing a world where that would happen is practically sci-fi). They’re not movies; they’re sermons. And nobody saw them.

“Yeah, but that’s because of COVID”. Wrong, Slappy. Movie Theaters were still open last year. COVID shrunk box-office takes, but didn’t wipe them out. People still dropped 200 Million to watch Bad Boys For Life. There were other choices. They chose these because these are what Oscar movies are now: pseudo-indie moralizing stuffed into a three-act structure. The power of cinema to appeal to mass audiences, to achieve art for the masses, has been swallowed up in the cynicism of Algorithim Nostalgia. The Art is for Artists, everyone else gets schlock. And the beat goes on.

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”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“A Star Is Born”

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.


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



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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.


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

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.


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.

“First Man” has a Lot of Advertising, and Variety Thinks That’s Worth Knowing

No, really. This is a real article.

In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “First Man.”

Is there some kind of contest for this? An award? Is there a reason I should devote a single brain cell to the fact that a studio spent more money advertising a particular film than other studios spent on other films? Is this the NFL Draft of the movie industry?

I hate the NFL Draft. Not because it exists, but because people get all excited to watch it. People find football teams picking football players entertaining. And the drama of whether this althete or that althete goes First Round or Second Round, and how the crap teams trade picks to the good teams and…



My initial prediction on First Man, in my previous post on next years Oscars, was to say that it will do decent box office and not get any nominations. I’m now going to say that some of the minor controversey about it not showing the American Flag could be sufficient among the Right-Thinking Folks to punish the sansculottes by giving it some Oscar Buzz. Mike Pence would hate that, right?

And that’s all that matters.

Variety Starts Telling Us What Movies We Should Care About Next Year: A Fisking

I don’t care about the Oscars. I didn’t watch them, and haven’t for some years. I don’t require some Star Chamber of Weinstein-enablers to direct my tastes in cinema.

I noticed the article because it let the mask slip: there’s a formula to all this nonsense, and there’s been a formula for some time: there’s a season of Oscar Films, and there’s the rest of the year of Movies for the Great Unwashed. You need to have your movies out during Oscar Season™, or else No One Cares.

Thus, Variety has already decided what we’re going to be talking about a year from now. Or predicted, anyway. This is sufficiently annoying to merit a Fisking.

Original text in bold, my response in italic.

Read more

The Oscars Were Boring, Just Like Every Other Year….

The Hollywood Reporter offers the usual dead-horse cruelty:

As a television event, this year’s Oscars was more like an endurance test — turgid, badly directed, poorly produced and featuring an endless string of tired or wince-inducing moments from host Ellen DeGeneres.

To which one can only add, well, isn’t that what it always is? A mind-numbing, joke-murdering exercise in making TV viewers wait until sunrise to find out who most successfully lobbied the Academy earned the statue for Best Picture?

That’s why most of the article talks about Ellen’s jokes. It’s because no one cares about the actual Academy Awards. No one cares about the foreign films. No one cares about the animated shorts. No one cares about the Best Screenplay Written on Moleskine or Mescaline, One of the Two.

Personally, I think it’s all a bit unfair to Ellen. Quick, name your favorite joke from any of the years Billy Crystal hosted the Oscars.

kattNone of these guys are doing memorable work. The only way to surprise people at the Oscars is to either commit an epic gaffe (John Travolta’s butchery of Idina Menzel’s name), or be so utterly offensive that no one ever asks you back (Scott McFarlane).

The Academy Awards show is a four-hour circle-jerk of the Factory of Fabulous. They convince themselves of how important they are by making us suffer through it.

And as long as you think it matters who wins Best Picture (I dare anyone to admit they paid actual money for a DVD of Shakespeare in Love), they’ll keep doing it.

UPDATE: I am, of course, not alone:

  • 21 Fixes For the Oscars So It’s Less Boring “There is absolutely NO reason this show cannot be done in 150 minutes. The Golden Globes finishes in 3 hours, but covers BOTH TV AND FILM—with two different categories in film for Drama and Musical/Comedy. The Oscars should not be longer than the longest nominated film”.
  • Here’s why the Oscars are so Boring “No one is allowed to have any fun.”