Saturday, April 2, 2022

Post-Slap Oscar Thoughts, Final Nominees List

Insert obligatory Chris Rock/Will Smith 
photo caption here
Okay, here is the obligatory post-Oscar rant. Only this year's is a bit different. I was all set to celebrate my getting 21 out of 23 categories right in my predictions and to complain about eight technical and design awards being presented before the show started, but then Will Smith had to go and slap Chris Rock and ruin it for me. The show had been pretty routine up to that point and I was complaining on Twitter about all the commercials (there seemed to be more than usual). Then Chris Rock did his lame joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's lack of hair and Smith went off after an eye-roll from the wife. All kinds of horrible triggers here. Toxic masculinity. Over protective patriarchy. Trumpist violence becoming acceptable. Racist stereotypes of black men being unable to control their emotions reinforced. Idols like Bill Cosby, OJ Simpson and now Will Smith falling. Comedians being in danger for doing their job. 

My reaction: I don't think Smith's Oscar for King Richard should be rescinded. The award is for the performance itself, not the personality or actions of the winner. George C. Scott and Marlon Brando still won even after stating they would refuse their awards. Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, and Casey Affleck have been accused of worse than slapping and they still have their awards (notice this is all men). Smith has done a preemptive strike by resigning from the Academy before they can kick him out (The only other member to be booted out was Carmine Cardini, best known for playing Cloris Leachman's boss on the second season of Phyllis, and for roles in The Godfather and Good Fellas. He sold screeners of nominated films.) But Smith should also be barred from all future Oscar events for at least ten years and maybe made to do seminars on nonviolence. Otherwise, this is normalizing and condoning his actions. Yes, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the current spike in urban violence are far more important matters, but it's all tied together. Aggressive, bullying behavior, winked at by Trump is on the rise (the 1/6 riot and Trump's praising the Congressional candidate who body slammed a pesky reporter.)

Lady Gaga's graciousness with Liza was
overshadowed by Will Smith's boorish behavior
Smith's action cast a pall over the whole evening. This Oscars will be remembered as a low point in civilized conduct. Lady Gaga's kindness to a wheelchair bound Liza Minnelli, the triumph of CODA for hearing-impaired artists, Ariana DeBose's openness about her sexuality, and me getting my personal highest Oscar score ever will all be forgotten. (Gaga's graciousness was especially notable since she was overlooked in Best Actress category for House of Gucci.) Now will annual slaps be requirements for future award shows? Who's gonna get clocked at the Grammys? Emmys? Tonys?

I did manage to sneak in two more Oscar nominated films (Both for Live-Action Short on HBO Max) before the big night--Please Hold, a dark Kafka-esque satire on a near-future penal system administered by drones and email, and The Dress, a heartbreaking portrait of a Little Person seeking romance. After the awards, PBS's Independent Lens showed a nominee for Best Documentary Feature--Writing with Fire, about an all-woman-run newspaper and website in India. So this will also be the year I saw the most Oscar-nominated films.

Oscar Nominees/Buzzed Movies Seen:
West Side Story (in the actual cinema, Kaufman Astoria on a Monday afternoon, we were the only ones in the theater)
The Power of the Dog (Netflix)
The Lost Daughter (Netflix)
tick...tick..Boom! (Netflix)
Don't Look Up (Netflix)
Passing (Netflix)
Being the Ricardos (Amazon)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (Apple Plus)
CODA (Apple Plus)
Belfast (iTunes)
Nightmare Alley (HBO Max)
Dune (iTunes)
King Richard (iTunes)
Flee (Amazon) 
Ascension (Paramount Plus)
Parallel Mothers (iTunes)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (HBO On Demand)
The Mitchells Vs. the Machines (Netflix)
Spencer (Hulu)
Drive My Car (HBO Max)
Licorice Pizza (iTunes)
The Hand of God (Netflix)
Summer of Soul or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised (Hulu)
Writing With Fire (PBS--Independent Lens)

Nominated Short Films
Lead Me Home (Netflix)
Three Songs for Benazir (Netflix)
Audible (Netflix)
Queen of Basketball (NY Times/YouTube)
On My Mind (The New Yorker/YouTube)
The Long Goodbye (YouTube)
Affairs of the Art (The New Yorker/YouTube)
The Windshield Wiper (YouTube)
Bestia (Vimeo--rented for $2.50)
Robin Robin (Netflix)
Please Hold (HBO Max)
The Dress (HBO Max)

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