Register Saturday | June 23 | 2018

Oscar Night

Television as the Lowest Common Denominator

So here's where we are: We are at my friend Tony's apartment on the Upper West Side. And why are we on the Upper West? Because there's a mathematical equation that

says that 13 bottles of wine divided between 7 people (3 of whom are over 50 and didn't take down their fare share, but did quite well) equals one hell of a fucking hang over. You do the math. I think we each polished off 2 and a half
bottles a piece.

When my alarm went off this morning so Bob and I could go
skydiving I think each of us thought the same exact thing,
at perhaps the same exact moment. "Dear God, please don't
tell me he wants to go skydiving. If you make him as hung
over as I am, I promise I'll never drink again." And that's
how it went.

So I'm on the Upper West Side tonight, Sunday night, and I
haven't much moved all day. And the Oscars are about to
come on. So I figured another diary was in order. After
all, you can't simply diary blog about the important
political landmarks of our lives. There has to frivolity
there too, right?

Right?

Right?

I have a very odd relationship with the Academy Awards. I
disagree with them on almost every level. This year is sure
to be no different. The movies and performances I love
(Glory in 1989 I believe, Don Cheadle in Devil in a Blue Dress, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Jim Carrey) get downright ignored. Films I despise (Ghost or Titanic) seem to lap up the awards.

I have begun to view the Oscars as more of a popularity
contest than an actual measure of artistic greatness. How
else do you come to terms with the fact that Sean Penn won
the first Academy Award of his career last year? How else
does a film like Hotel Rwanda-a story few of us would even have been aware had we not seen it-get completely ignored?

Anyway. The highlight of the night is coming up. The sole
reason I'm watching.

Chris Mother Fucking Rock is taking the stage. Let's begin:

8:34PM - God I love Chris Rock. My favorite living
comedian, bar none. As much a sociological commentator as a
comedian. "The only acting at the Oscars comes when someone
doesn't win. I remember one year when Halle Barry won the
Oscar, Nicole Kidman was smiling so big she should have won
an Emmy at the Oscars."

8:37PM - "If you want Tom Cruise, and all you can get is
Jude Law; wait!" Oh my God. Chris Rock is killing it right
now. I love this man. I really love this man. At least he
ads a little flavor to what has become one of the most
corporate nights on television. Welcome to the Mobile-Exxon
Academy Awards. This is actually fun so far.

8:41PM - Do I love Chris Rock because he hacks on my
Publicist in Chief? Perhaps. But it just seems like he
speaks the truth. He couches ideas in 7 sentences that we
struggle to make sense of over months. Perhaps that's
overstating it, but who cares. This is a blog, not the New
York Times. I don't have to get it right. I'm off on a
tangent. Crap. Stop me now.

8:44PM - "Our first presenter recently won an Academy Award
for her performance in Monster's Ball, and can next be seen
in the eagerly awaited Catwoman 2." Is he going to get away
with this all night? I hope so. Rock can't actually be as
subversive as the advertisements and the Academy would have
wanted us to believe (he can't, this is big money; he has a
career to think of), but at least he's got his toe over the
line.

8:46PM - First award goes for Best Art Direction.
ZZzzzzzzzzz..... Sorry, I fell asleep. There are certain
awards I just don't care about. Like almost all of them.
I'm just curious to see the bigger awards. Sorry, I know
some people care about the smaller ones. But I don't.

8:47PM - Renee Zelwegger please eat a hamburger. Or 12.
Remember what you looked like in Jerry Maguire? Neither do I, but have a coke and some cake. We need you to put on some weight. I actually thought you were kind of hot as Bridget Jones. Somewhere between that and how skinny you
are now would be nice.

8:48PM - I should pace myself. It's going to be a
loooooooooooong night.

8:50PM - Best Supporting Actor. I'm hoping for Clive Owen.
Having seen all the performances, I just felt his was
something fierce and visceral. But, of course, Morgan
Freeman is too loved to not win. And he did do a rather
nice job. So... yep. Morgan. Why is it who I always want to
win hardly ever does? This is a career achievement award as
much as anything else, and it's hard to argue against
someone like Morgan Freeman winning. He just seems like a
remarkably good man. I like him. It's hard not to really.
Nice heartfelt speech, too. People should take notes of the
simplicity, brevity, and grace he brought to the stage. Oh
well, so my man Clive didn't win.

8:52PM - Dear Pepsi, what the fuck was the Spartacus
commercial? Isn't that reaching a bit? Please explain.

8:53PM - Dear Cadillac, um... please see my note to Pepsi
above. Are you guys even trying? What do these ads have to
do with your products. I'm confused.

8:54PM - I used to love Robin Williams. But I cannot
imagine what it must be like to be married to this man.
He's been recycling the same style of humor for too long,
and it's just gotten tired. Which is sad to say, because
his mind works like very few of our do. Perhaps he's
overexposed himself.

8:58PM - Best Animated Feature. Does this really deserve
it's own category? I know there have been animated films
that got shafted by not getting nominated, but this doesn't
seem like the answer. It almost degrades the form to say
that certain types of feature films deserve their own
category, because they don't measure up. When is Best
Romantic Comedy going to be created? Best Horror Film? Best
Action-Adventure? Best Spy Movie? Where do we draw the line
when we peel off one type of film from the rest? And, no
Best Documentary does not prove anything.

9:01PM - I just think it should be said because we do not
honor this woman enough: I fucking love Cate Blanchett. I
love her. She is a remarkable and beautiful and talented
actress. She's one of the people I would go see in anything
(and have) simply to watch what she does. You don't see her
on many magazine covers because she does something we don't
much honor in our celebrities: Just be great in everything
she does. She's an actress and an artist and nothing more.

9:03PM - Our first Best Original Song nomination. How often
have these songs actually been good or memorable? I'd wager
far fewer than they are utterly bland and forgettable. I
remember "Streets of Philadelphia" by the Boss. I remember
"Burn it Blue" from Frida. But, most of the time are these songs worthy of being honored? I don't have the answer to that. I'm just asking.

9:04PM - Beyoncé speaks (sings) another language. Who knew?
However, all sarcasm aside, there are certain people that
although you may not vibe wholly with what they do as a
performer, you don't begrudge them their fame because they
have a little of that extra something, call it charisma if
you want, that we don't have. Beyoncé is one of those for
me. On the whole, I don't like her music. I vibe with
occasional songs ("Crazy in Love" for instance), but really
don't mind her being famous at all. J.Lo's fame bothers me
much more than the bootylicious one.

9:12PM - We have put the television on pause to use the
restroom. God bless TiVo. If I were rich, or even if I had
money, I think I'd get me some TiVo. Or is it DVR? Is TiVo
a brand name, or the actual name of the product? These are
the questions that keep me up at night?

9:13PM - Still on pause. We will be running a delay. What's
Tony doing in there anyway?

9:15PM - We are apparently experiencing technical
difficulties. Please bear with us. We are working on the
problem, and will be back with you shortly.

9:16PM - We're back!

9:19PM - That short with Chris Rock where he travelled to the Magic Johnson theater to see what everyone's favorite film of the year was: too funny. Apparently black people don't watch white people's films. Who knew? Seriously, different ethnicities like different movies? That's a new one on me. There's the Latin Grammies, should there be an African Academy? Please see my diatribe about Best Animated Feature above. But as long as the establishment ignores other cultural achievements, perhaps this isn't such a bad idea. I have a revolutionary way to fix the problem, though. Honor the best films. Period.

9:20PM - Scarlet Johansson. A girl I know is her personal
stylist and I keep asking her to set me up on a date.
Sadly, I've been told that she is dating Jared Leto. And
I'm here to say, Scarlet, we don't have to be exclusive.

9:21PM - We are up in the balconies, we are in the isles
for awards. The Oscars have gone crazy.

9:23PM - Best Costume Design. If Pierce Brosnan (best Bond
ever, by the way) would stop coughing I could catch a nap.
Still a little hung over. Crap.

9:25PM - "When our next presenter isn't dazzling us with
his acting ability he's boring us to death with his
politics. Please welcome Tim Robbins."

9:27PM - Best Supporting Actress. I don't know if I have a
favorite. I truly loved all of these women in these films.
Any one of them would be okay with me. If I had to say who
I'm hoping for, it'd be between the divine Cate Blanchett
or the remarkably human Sophie Okonedo. But if Natalie
Portman wins I can understand it. If Virginia Madsen wins I
can understand it. And the Oscar goes to... (come on Sophie
or Cate!)... Cate Blanchett! YES! NICE! BRILLIANT! Hold on, I
have to do a little dance.

9:29PM - Apparently Tony thinks it's gay that I want to
dance with him. What's up with that?

9:30PM - Cate just thanked her agent and her publicist. I
wish actors wouldn't do that. It doesn't make me lose any
respect or admiration (or lessen my crush) on her at all, I
just find it tacky. It's like when athletes thank God. Get
over it.

9:32PM - I am not of the Johnny Carson generation. I wasn't
old enough to remember him. He did not impact my late night
life. For me, it's David Letterman and Conan O'Brien. But
there's an easy grace to him on screen and he seemed like
one of the more interesting of people.

9:33PM - Okay, I'll say it. Leonardo DiCaprio. I don't
really get it. I enjoy him as an actor to a point, but I
don't understand what makes him a superstar. He's less
interesting to me than Brad Pitt and less talented to me
than Johnny Depp. I don't think him a bad actor. I don't
dislike him, I just don't know what the big deal is.

9:34PM - Born into Brothels will win Best Documentary. Being in my industry is unfair at times as I've actually seen all of these movies and this documentary is absolutely amazing. None of the others stood a chance. My dad should have called me for his Oscar poll this year. He might have actually beaten my step-mother for the first time in their decade long Oscar battle. (Seriously, I think he's 0 for 10.)

9:37PM - Best Editing. I'm going back to sleep. Which is
unfair, because this is an awards show for film, which
should, logically, honor all there is to honor about
movies. So, I'm going to nap.

9:38PM - What do you want to bet that the Aviator wins all the unimportant awards and Scorsese walks home empty handed again. That's just the kind of logic the Academy Awards has. How one of the best filmmakers has never won an award is beyond me. There's no logic to that at all. Which movie would you rather rent, Raging Bull or Ordinary People? That's what I thought. Me too. And yet Redford and that film (which is touching) inexplicably beat out Scorsese's masterpiece. I didn't enjoy the Aviator (it's a bit of a mess, really, though there are some amazing parts) but if Martin doesn't get an Oops We Done Fucked Up Majorly These Past Three Decades Oscar then God is dead and the Academy Awards are a fraud.

9:43PM - Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. I would pay money to
sit next to these guys at a restaurant just to overhear
their conversation.

9:47PM - My god Ziyi Zhang (formerly Zhang Ziyi, but she
reversed Chinese tradition of putting your last name first
this past year) is devastatingly gorgeous. Just
breathtaking.

9:52PM - Al Pacino should just change his name to Big
Pimpin'. Or perhaps Greatest Living Actor. I don't care
about the scene chewing or overacting, what he does works.
I could watch him stare out a window and be utterly
transfixed.

9:57PM - Our dinner just arrived. This is going to be a
delicate balancing act.

10:00PM - Oh yeah, TiVo rules. On pause while we dole out
the goods. Pacino just chilling.

10:02PM - Does anyone else think that the Academy might
have been so worried that Chris Rock would go off that they
sanitized every other show just in case? Is this the most
boring Academy Awards ever? And how am I writing so much
about them? I'm just this good. That's how.

10:03PM - Seriously, do these award shows EVER live up to
the hype anymore?

10:17PM - If you make a really crappy movie that's based on
a really crappy musical and you write one single new really
crappy song for the new really crappy movie, shouldn't that
negate you from being nominated for Best Song? I don't
understand how this pedestrian song by Andrew Lloyd Weber
could be considered the best anything.

10:22PM - What the hell is going on with this awarding in
the isle thing? Are we now in a hierarchy? Only specific
awards of a certain worth allowed on stage? This is really
awkward. And annoying. And it looks stupid. Who let this
idea get through? What if the guy who won for Best Short
Animated Film walked up on the stage? Would there be big
men and a velvet rope at the steps to deny him access?

10:25PM - Kate Winslett. I love Kate Winslett. Apparently
if your name is Kate and ends in "ett" I'm enamored of you.

10:27PM - Hold on. I can't think. Selma Hayek is on
television. Is there a hotter woman out there? I doubt it.
As you can tell, I'm a great admirer of female beauty.
Which makes me really rare breed of man.

10:28PM - I don't think my television should be able to
survive Selma Hayek. But I appreciate its effort to keep it
together.

10:30PM - Seriously, do you think Edward Norton wakes up
every morning and just starts smashing his head on the wall
saying, "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! I'm so fucking stupid!"
And how do you date anyone ever again after having dated
Ms. Hayek. She just seems so interesting. And I do mean
interesting, but I think I also might mean devastatingly
hottttt.

10:32PM - Does anyone else see the irony in Penélope Cruz
and Selma Hayek giving out awards for Best Sound Editing?
No? Okay, let's move on. I have such a weakness for Latina
women. Perhaps it's because I speak Spanish, but the
language, to me, is the most beautiful on the planet. And
the women are the most alluring. And their lilting English
accent I could listen to all-night. God bless TiVo!

10:39PM - I think I'm way behind where the show is now
because we've paused it a couple of times. I can only hope
one of my friends doesn't text me about a winner I have yet
to see. I'll have to avoid the phone for a little bit. This
will be harder than you think for me. Bob (the hetero
lifemate) and I always text. About everything.

10:42PM - "Oprah's so rich I saw John Kerry proposing to
her over an hour ago." Have I mentioned that I think Chris
Rock is a funny bastard? No? Well, he is.

10:45PM - Do you want to know the other brilliant thing
about the TiVo thing? When you get behind on the show, as
we clearly have, you get to fast forward through the awards
that you don't really want to see, as we should be doing
right now. Except Tony isn't actually listening to me.
Dude! Fast forward! Dammit!

10:47PM - Why won't Tony fast forward through the
humanitarian award? And does it make me a failed
humanitarian that I want him to?

10:49PM - I know she's not British, but Annette Bening
should be called Dame Annette Bening. That's just what I
think.

10:49PM - I LOVE YO-YO MA! Love him. His cello is one of
the truly transcendent instruments on this planet. Tony
just said, "You know, we see him so much it's almost like
he's the only classical musician alive." But I would be
okay with it if he was. They're at the segment where they
briefly honor those who've passed away. This is always my
favorite part of the night. I just like seeing some of
these people one last time, and hearing the somber
clapping.

10:53PM - We're now back to live television. I feel like
I'm being held hostage by the Oscars now. They go on so
long, and withhold the awards I want to see until the last
moments. I hate them for that. I feel like my life has been
hijacked. Dear Dad, the Oscars are treating me well. I've
been fed. Don't worry about me. I'm safe. They have not
harmed me.

10:56PM - What in the hell is P.Diddy doing on the Oscar
stage? He did a Broadway play this year, but has he ever
been in a film? What the hell is he doing onstage right
now? And is he really introducing a song from the Polar
Express
? I cannot explain this moment. Too weird.

10:57PM - Oh my God I hate Josh Groban! This is why culture
at large bugs the crap out of me sometimes. It's people
like him who get under my skin. He's famous and rich... and
just sanitary enough to blandly appeal to all of you!
Here's a nutra sweet singer. Enjoy! I can't believe I let
this shit get to me, but it really does bother me.

11:00PM - Prince you bad, bad man. Where you been? And, as
talented and ferocious as you are, how much plastic surgery
have you had?

11:02PM - Sean Penn, the greatest actor of the his
generation by far. And apparently he left his sense of
humor at home. But I idolize the guy anyway.

11:03PM - Best Actress. I have no idea with this one
either. Very strong year for women. I think I'm rooting for
Imelda Staunton, Annette Bening, Kate Winslett or Catalina
Sandino Moreno. Basically what I'm saying is I'm rooting
for anyone but Hilary Swank this year. So guess who's going
to win?

11:06PM - Yep. Hilary Swank. This is what I mean by my
relationship with the Academy Awards. It's not that I
begrudge Hilary, she did a great job in Million Dollar
Baby
, but I found the other performances more moving, more dynamic. I responded to the other performances more, and on a personal level, isn't that what we want in our actors? To remove us from our own lives for the brief time we're in the theater. Hilary did a hell of a job, but I was hoping for someone else. So, what I'm saying is, if you ever want to enter your office Oscar pool, just e-mail me and I'll tell you who I want. Then vote for exactly the opposite.

11:09PM - And she just thanked her publicist Troy Nankin.
This needs to be outlawed. You cannot thank your publicist,
your lawyer, your agent or your manager. It's like an
inside joke, and inside world, that the rest of us aren't
privy to. Don't remind us of our normalcy when your being
honored for how well you help us escape whatever it is
we're escaping when we come to movies.

11:13PM - Best Foreign Language Film. The Sea Inside is an absolute lock. This movie is truly amazing. Go see it. If only to see Javier Bardem in a brutally internalized performance. And, for once, I am right. There's no way this film could have lost, though. It is that moving.

11:16PM - If Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind doesn't win Best Original Screenplay I'm going to... probably just sit here and be a bitter little man. Crap, I wish I was
more powerful. My two favorite movies of last year, Hotel
Rwanda
and Eternal Sunshine, were not nominated for Best Picture. And that really bothers me.

11:17PM - YES! YES! YES! YES! Charlie Kaufman deserves it.
There was no more original tale this year, and that is what
this award is for. It was my favorite movie, and instantly
into my Top 5. A lovely, wonderful, human love story. It
reminded me of all the reasons why I cherish some of my
memories, as painful as they may be. It probably also
explains why my ex-girlfriends effect me as they do. And it
spoke to why we are capable of doing exactly the wrong
thing for ourselves for exactly the right reasons. I feel a
little vindicated right now. I'm going to go dance with
Tony again.

11:19PM - Why won't Tony dance with me?

11:24PM - Best Actor. I know Jamie Foxx is going to win. I
know he is. But if you want my vote, and I know you do or
you wouldn't have read this far, I'm rooting for Don
Cheadle. By far the performance of the year. That entire
movie was held up on his broad, human, powerful shoulders.
Just a remarkable, graceful, moving performance. The rest
were good, but there is no one who could have pulled that
roll off as he did. A milestone. If all is right with the
world, Don Cheadle will win, but with Ray having passed
this year, and the fact that Jamie Foxx was really very
good, it's hard to see him losing.

11:27PM - Well, Jamie Foxx won. The 3rd African-American
actor to ever win the award, which is a truly sad statement
about the Academy's views on it's ethnic actors, and the
rolls that the film world offers to ethnic actors. And I
did think Jamie Foxx was great in that movie. A wonderful
performance. But I think we see a performance like Don
Cheadle's once every five years. I think it's a shame not
to honor that.

11:29PM - "I see Oprah and I see Halle and I just want to
say your names." And his moment about Sydney Poitier and
then his grandmother, who raised him, are why I love the
Academy Awards. This is why I watch these shows, because
otherwise they wouldn't be worth it. "She's not here," he
said of his grandmother, "but she talks to me. And I can't
wait to go to sleep tonight because we got some things to
talk about." Well done, Jamie. You lived up to the moment
and you did a wonderful job in Ray. I don't begrudge him because of his win. Well done.

11:33PM - Best Director. I've already said my piece on
this. Give it to Martin. Call it a career achievement.

11:34PM - What a load of crap. I'm not saying I don't enjoy
Clint, because I admire the hell out of him, actually. He
seems an interesting person, makes very good films. But
Million Dollar Baby was a good, and not great, film. I have no problem with the subject matter, as many do, I just didn't think it was a great film. In face, I didn't think any of the films nominated (even the hilarious and very good Sideways) were phenomenal this year. And because of that reason, I just wanted to see Martin win one. Too bad, really.

11:35PM - Damn Oscars. Why does the Academy not share my
good taste?

11:36PM - Best Picture. Hotel Rwanda? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Oh wait, they weren't nominated.

So the Academy Awards are over. The show really has become
pathetic. Chris Rock did a fine job, but I don't know if
anyone can survive this format. Something needs to be done
to make it far more entertaining, because as a show it is
utterly dreadful.

That said, I wish the films I like would be nominated. And
I wish they would win, too. But in the end, perhaps this
year's win was more about acting, because there were not
that many good films nominated, but many, many, many great
acting performances. So I guess bless them. And no I'm
going to go to bed. And hopefully wake up without a
hangover.

Peace.