Oscar Gold 2020 – Postmortem

Okay, I’ve had a well-earned nap, and 24 hours to process everything I saw last night. The 92nd Academy Awards were beyond anything I could have expected, and now that it’s all over, I have a few final thoughts. Apart from the Razzie Awards (which you can help determine, because I bought a vote!), this will close the book on 2019 in film. As always, I’m grateful to everyone who takes this journey with me, whether you read my shit, flip me off through your screen, or actually occasionally agree with me.

Here are my takeaways.

  • I am still utterly floored that Parasite won Best Picture, and that Bong Joon-ho won Best Director. I still can’t believe it. I would have never thought it possible. All the signs pointed to 1917. Golden Globes, BAFTA, DGA, PGA, they all picked 1917 and Sam Mendes. Only the Writers Guild really gave the film any high-ranking love, and more often than not, the Screenplay awards are consolation prizes, rather than a hint at the larger win. The Screen Actors Guild also gave the film its Best Ensemble prize, which is their equivalent of Best Picture, but since no individual actor from the film was nominated, I didn’t put much stock in it.
  • This is the first time since Spotlight that the film I wanted to win, i.e. the highest-ranking nominee on my personal preference list, has won. Back then, Spotlight was my #2 film of the year (behind Inside Out, which I ranked first among all films in the 2010s). It’s the first time since The Departed that my favorite film of the year has won.
  • I am surprised and a little bit disappointed that I didn’t see a single headline today to the effect of “Bong Smokes the Competition” or “Bong Hits… It Big on Oscar Night.”
  • I correctly predicted 15 of the 24 categories last night. This is a far cry from the 21 I got right last year, and I probably won’t be winning any contests. But I don’t care. I’ve rarely been so happy to be wrong.
  • That said, now more than ever I wish we could see the raw vote totals, just to see how many rounds it took for Parasite to secure the Best Picture majority. Given the wins for Best Director and Original Screenplay, it would seem possible that it had the majority outright, but again, it’s hard to tell. Because the DGA and PGA both voted for 1917, one has to assume those respective branches followed suit in the Academy, so I’d love to see a breakdown of how members in each branch voted overall (I know there’s some crossover, which I’d also love to see annotated). Maybe the Writing and Acting Branches were enough to put it over the top. Did 1917 have an initial plurality, but then get overtaken by Parasite? Or did Bong’s masterpiece lead throughout? Most importantly, how did we get such a result given that last year’s winner was the polarizing Green Book and the year before it was Ms. Lady Fucks a Fish?
  • I loved the opening number, except that most of the references were for films not nominated. If it was representative of the actual field of nominees, it would have been way better.
  • For the love of God, can we have a host next year? A lot of the presenters did good humor-wise, but to see Chris Rock and Steve Martin stand there to give a dual monologue without them hosting, knowing they’ve both hosted before (and done a tremendous job) just felt extremely awkward, to say nothing of the various actors literally brought in just to introduce other people. Just have a goddamn host again.
  • Initial reports suggest that with 26 million viewers, this was the lowest-rated Oscars in history. I’m sure the Academy will blame everyone but themselves. Color me shocked that Billie Eilish didn’t save the day.
  • Speaking of the kids’ favorite goth poser, I fully concede that her music is just not for me. But even from a pure objective standpoint, what was the point of having here there? I was going to make a joke about all the twitching and shaking she did with the microphone, but I just looked it up and saw that she has Tourette’s, which probably explains the tics, so I’ll let that go. I’m not about to make fun of someone’s medical history. As far as In Memoriam performances go, she was inoffensive in presentation. She still can’t sing worth a shit, and she half-whispered her way through the entire rendition of “Yesterday” (another movie ignored by the Academy this year), but at least she conducted herself with dignity, which is more than I can say for the marketing department at ABC that decided to try to capitalize on her Grammy wins and advertise her appearance as some sort of concert event. That’s just in poor taste. She’s most assuredly not my thing, but a lot of stuff falls under that category, so I won’t get pissy whenever she shows up. But have some respect, ABC. We’re honoring the dead, not trying to twerk on Robin Thicke’s junk. Read the room.
  • Similarly, if ABC is curious as to why the Oscar ratings are so low, maybe it’s because you keep obviously pandering to youths with gimmicks like Eilish rather than simply presenting the awards in a straightforward way. I know you have no power over who gets nominated (that’s a note for the Academy), but once the nominations are out, work with what’s there. Don’t try to manufacture a hip, youthful event that doesn’t exist. This is why there was immediate and universal backlash to the idea of shunting categories to the commercial breaks and introducing a “Popular Film” category last year. Fix the actual problems, like devoting entire two-minute segments to Rolex ads when no one watching can afford a Rolex (and even if they could they’re completely content with the clocks on their phones), rather than trying to create and solve new ones in the vain hope of trying to seem, “with it.”
  • To the Academy, step up your game. Positive steps have been taken by expanding membership over the last few years, getting more diverse voices in the mix, but you have to recognize that the old white boys club is quickly becoming obsolete. If you keep nominating the same old movies, the ratings will just keep going lower and lower. Fix the marketing, fix the nomination schedule so that everything isn’t crammed into December. Keep expanding membership. Maybe this way half the ceremony won’t be presenters delivering self-owns. Take it from me. I know from personal experience. Self-deprecating humor is only charming for so long before it becomes annoying and people just think you’re a downer.
  • People always complain about individuals left out of the In Memoriam montage. This year, the chief gripe was Luke Perry, mostly because he was in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood. But you have to remember that a) the montage is for all members of the Academy, not just actors, and b) there is a list that the Academy maintains for all who pass away, and this year the list was over 150 names long. Had everyone been included, the montage would have taken over 10 minutes. And we have watch commercials to do, people!
  • That said, I was mildly ticked that René Auberjonois was left out. His career was more TV than film, but he had four roles that will always stick out to me. First, he made his film debut in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H. He was also in the 70s King Kong remake, The Last Unicorn, and The Little Mermaid, where he famously played Chef Louis and sang “Les Poissons,” one of the funniest Disney numbers in history.
  • I could not care less about what people wear to the Oscars, but Natalie Portman made a point of wearing a dress where the front was embroidered with threads shaped in the names of female directors snubbed by the Academy. So, in order to truly see the issue, people have to stare at your tits? I’m not sure this was a great strategy.
  • While it was surprising and a bit confusing, I thought it was cool that Eminem showed up to perform “Lose Yourself.” In 2003, when he won the Oscar for that song, he was the only performer who didn’t show up. He was at home, passed out, deep into his addiction problems. He didn’t think he had a chance to win anyway, so he didn’t bother. To this day, my favorite Oscar moment is the look of sheer terror on Barbra Streisand’s face when she announced that a rapper won an Academy Award. Regardless of how you feel about Marshall Mathers’ music, he’s gone through a lot over the past two decades, including almost overdosing himself to death. So to get a second shot to show how grateful he was, I think it was pretty awesome. Also, Idina Menzel and Martin Scorsese’s faces were priceless.
  • I’d like to propose a new rule. If your film doesn’t rate at least a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, you don’t get to submit. It wouldn’t have spared us from the requisite Diane Warren ballad from Breakthrough (inexplicably at 61%), but we would have avoided The Lion King and Maleficent 2. You don’t have to make the best film ever, but if you’re certified Rotten, I’m sorry, you’re out. Literally, Academy, let’s have some standards.
  • Part of those standards should be ensuring that a man in a wheelchair doesn’t have to sing “I’m STANDING with You!” Jesus. An even bigger part of those standards should be telling potential presenters, “Yeah, I don’t care if you show up in costume and make a joke about it, if you put out one of the worst movies ever made, you’re not invited to the fucking Oscars! And especially you don’t get to present Visual Effects, the category you laughably submitted for despite your effects not being done EVEN WHEN THE FUCKING MOVIE CAME OUT!” Again, making fun of yourself is only endearing the first few times.
  • I’m still amazed that basically no one got played off the stage. That was cool. And if people want to bitch about time, well then, maybe don’t have one actor introducing another actor who’s only there to introduce a montage that leads into a performance from a celebrity not involved in any of the year’s proceedings. Again, I love Eminem, and I think his appearance was a great gesture from all sides, but we wasted five minutes on awkward hand-offs and intros to get there, and no matter how fun it was, it was completely irrelevant. Maybe bear that shit in mind when you’re wondering why the show goes over by 35 minutes.
  • During Renée Zellweger’s speech, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old Family Guy cutaway gag that depicted her as an anteater. If only they knew how prescient they were…
  • The real reason Parasite won Best Picture is because it was the only one with an honest title. I definitely “sighted” multiple “pairs” of people. Meanwhile, 1917 took place over a single day, not a year, Marriage Story was about a divorce, Little Women were fully grown, Ford v Ferrari featured no Harrison at all, The Irishman was all Italians, Joker was not included in a 52-card deck, Jojo Rabbit focused almost exclusively on non-rabbit characters, and Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood spent a significant amount of time in Chatsworth, which is several miles northwest of Hollywood. Noodle that one for a while.

That’s all I’ve got. If you have any random thoughts, I’d love to hear them. I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have about anything I might have forgotten to mention.

Regular coverage resumes this week, maybe even tomorrow, as I’ve got a review on deck for Birds of Prey, which was literally renamed today after it won the weekend box office, but not by a large enough margin. Yay, capitalism! But otherwise, for now I think I’ve earned another good long period of rest. I sincerely hope the Academy rethinks its calendar for next year. I love the annual Blitz, but this was exhausting.

Join the conversation in the comments below! What were your thoughts about the Oscars? Did your favorites win? Are you ready for 20 bazillion Syria documentaries next year because they keep losing? Let me know!

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