Oscar 2020

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Sunday is Oscar Night.  They’ve moved it up because of A.S.F. (Award Show Fatigue.)  Apparently, this is a real thing.  People just get bone-ass bored with Hollywood during their Give-Me-A-Trophy season.  (Who knew?)  It makes sense though, after the Golden Globes, the Baftas, SAG, Critic’s Choice, Sundance, TFI, AFI and an endless stream of the usual suspects, wearing enough money to feed a Malawi family for a year, striding up to the microphone and telling the rest of us to quit voting for Trump and drinking soda pop with a straw … God, take a breath, Fyfe!  You’re going to hurt yourself … It’s no wonder people tune out.  I’m probably going to watch, though, because a) I’m a dinosaur b) the Academy will do a decent tribute to Kirk Douglas (more about that later) and c) despite all my complaining, I do believe movies are important.

Movies give us something we can’t find anywhere else.  For example, every person on this planet has a least one movie that they simply don’t share with anyone else.  It’s not secret, but it’s kinda private.  It’s personal.  It’s a cozy connection.  It’s a few tears or a lotta laughs – just because.  It’s an old lover who shows up on a stay-at-home Friday night and says, “Why don’t you slip into something more comfortable and make some popcorn?  This evening’s just about the two of us.”  And for a couple of hours, you totally relax because you know everything about them (including the dialogue) and they’ve seen the holes in your underwear.  These movies aren’t necessarily the best or award winners or the critic’s choice, but they belong to us.  They occupy a place in our psyche that we can’t explain.  They are the tales of intimate strangers told to us, alone in the dark, like important whispers we need to remember.

I have several movies like this.  Yeah, believe it or not, I wasn’t always the party animal you see before you.  I’ve had my fair share of stay-at-home Friday nights.  I’ve sailed El Carib with Captain Ron and danced with Marlene Dietrich on more than one occasion.

So, on Sunday, after the Red Carpet, I don’t really care if some guy in a tuxedo scolds me about my promiscuous use of plastic.  I’m there for the movies.  And when they eulogize Kirk Douglas, along with Spartacus and Paths of Glory, I hope they remember 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  It’s a remarkable tale of an ocean adventure, told to a kid from the North American prairie who’d never seen the ocean.

Random January Thoughts

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It’s January, and it’s snowing – a rare occasion in Vancouver.  So rather than risk starting a Netflix binge that could last all week, here are a few random thoughts on a frozen winter morning.

I’m old enough to have survived the great Jennifer invasion.  Remember those days?  You’d call “Jennifer” on a crowded street, and 30 teenage girls would turn around; teachers were numbering their female students and it got so bad parents were spelling it with a “G” (Gennifer) or a “Y” (Jennyfer) or both (Gennyfer.)  Ah, the good old days!  Currently, le nom de jour is Ryan, and I don’t think anyone saw that coming.  After all, Ryan O’Neil is too old to stir the imagination of young parents, and Saving Private Ryan is – uh – just strange.  Either way, our world is up to its elbows in Ryans.  There’s Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Hansen, Ryan Merriman, Ryan Guzman, Ryan Kwanten, Ryan Rottman, Ryan Eggold, that “I’m no genius” swimmer Ryan Lochte, and for you older folks, Ryan Seacrest.  There are even a couple of women, including Ryan Newman.  But the weirdest thing about this phenom is Ryans seem to love to play hockey.  At last count, there were 57 Ryans in the National Hockey League.  That’s more than all the Johns, Dons, Rons, Steves and Toms put together.  In fact, you could field an entire team with nothing but Ryans on it.  Go figure!

Although I spend a ton of time complaining about millennials, I really have no idea who they are.  Honestly, once Gen X was over, I kinda got confused.  Especially when Generations Y and Z started to run together like eggs beaten into cake batter.  (Yeah, they’re different, but good luck trying to separate them.)  And now, apparently, there’s a Post-Millennial generation.  This is too much for my brain, so, like most people, I work on the assumption that if you’re younger than me and an asshole, you must be a millennial.  It just makes things a lot simpler.

Have you ever noticed, in the movies, when Satan comes back to rule the Earth, Hollywood always blames the Catholics?  It’s always some medieval Vatican screw-up that leaves a loophole in the space/time continuum for the Prince of Darkness to slither through.  You never see Tom Hanks trading riddles with the Archbishop of Canterbury or Arnold Schwarzenegger duking it out with a bunch of Baptists.  Protestants are cool and all that, but I’m pretty sure that when the Apocalypse shows up, they’re going to get their fair share of fire and brimstone.  You’d think Hollywood would know that.

And speaking of Hollywood, the Academy Award nominations came out this week, and everybody west of San Bernardino is already starting to apologise — too white, too old, too male – the list of Oscar’s offences is never ending.  Ironically, the only person to ever out and out refuse an Oscar was an old, white male — George C. Scott.  (FYI, it’s a popular misconception that Marlon Brando refused the award.  He didn’t.  He just sent somebody else to get it for him.)  And, incidentally, rather than having to fire another host for 10 year old Tweets or risk a Ricky Gervais ass-kicking, Oscar has decided to go host-less again this year.  If this keeps up, eventually, the Academy Awards are going to be Drive-Thru.

And finally:

Harry, the Englishman formerly known as a Prince, has decided he doesn’t want to be a royal anymore.  I’ve always liked you, Harry, but I don’t have a lot of boohoos for your predicament.  Yeah, it’s tough living in a fishbowl, but if you’re serious, you might wanna think about paying back all the taxpayer money you spent on The Wedding and renovating that house your grandma gave you.  Just sayin’!

The Oscars Are Old!

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This year, the Oscars have snuck up on me because – uh – well — for the first time in living memory, I don’t really care. This isn’t a sudden revelation: it’s been building for a few years.  Oscar and I are just not that into each other anymore.  It’s sad to lose a lifetime lover, but we’ve grown apart, Oscar and I, and I’m probably going to spend the evening playing with my new friends on Netflix.  So what happened?  Oscar got old.

I’ll grant you I’m no spring chicken, myself.  I can clearly remember the night Oliver, a piece of junk musical, beat The Lion in Winter, for Best Picture – what a shock!  But that’s what Oscar used to be – wild and unpredictable.  It was magic.  It was fun, and everybody wanted to know who won.  These days, despite its chiseled abs and perky breasts, Oscar is old enough to be my grandfather and acts the part.

Let’s face it: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have become a bunch of dithering old people, worried about what the neighbours will think.  Look at all the dicking around over Kevin Hart.  Why does this remind me of Shady Acres Care Facility?
“Okay, fine!  If Mrs. Crabtree can’t run the rummage sale, then I guess we just won’t have a host this year.  Satisfied?”
Plus, there’s the on-again/off-again Popular Picture Award and the bickering over which awards do or do not deserve television time.  God, folks!  Get over yourselves!  Nobody cares!  Ordinary people tune in to Oscar night for the Big Six and wade through the rest because of the dresses.  Here’s a newsflash: there’s only one person who remembers who won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2010 and that’s Nicolas Schmerkin – the guy who won.

The problem is, like old people everywhere, the Academy just doesn’t realize it’s old.  It’s still thinks it’s Ava Gardner-glamourous with oysters and champagne, but what the rest of the world sees is Meryl Streep, drinking low-fat Chablis and blathering on about the intestinal benefits of ancient grains.  The Oscars are too earnest, too political, too aware, and too damn grouchy to be magic anymore.  They’re not fun.  They’re scolding.

So I’m going to give them a miss for all those reasons and mostly because — ever since The Hurt Locker — Oscar has become totally predictable.

Good luck, Black Panther – you haven’t got a chance!