Well for many of our friends and neighbours, Super Bowl is the high point of their party schedule. For me, it’s definitely the Oscars. I look forward to watching with my friends and often hate-watching the show for the fashions, speeches, production numbers, etc. It has been a great year for movies and I look forward to the show this year to see how the nominations will turn out and how the show itself is conducted given that there will be no central host.
The Academy has tried to respond to changing times by streamlining the awards and presenting technical categories off camera (rejected); they have tried to recognize popular films with a special category (rejected). The show often runs 4 hours and they are desperately trying to rein it in to a 3 hour running time by limiting thank you speeches to 90 seconds and playing off recipients with music when their time expires.
The show reached its nadir in 2017 when it ended in an Oscar mixup, first LaLaLand and then Moonlight were both declared winners and LaLaLand had to hand over it’s Best Film Award. This year, perhaps pointedly, neither LaLaLand‘s director (Damien Chazelle) nor Moonlight‘s director (Barry Jenkins) received directing nominations for their films First Man and If Beale Street Could Talk. An unfortunate snub for both talented directors.
Netflix has emerged as a new source of nominated films which get both theatrical and Netflix distribution. The recognition that Roma (an original Netflix production) has received is incredibly significant.
Anyhow, here are my hopes for who should (but not necessarily will) win:
My favourite: Green Book, a film I would recommend unreservedly for its positive message and delightful execution.
Critical Darling: Roma, a film I watched twice, once almost completely asleep, and the second time with a group of 20 women watching me like a hawk, ensuring that I stayed awake throughout. This is truly an art film, touching and subtle, but extraordinarily slow-paced with unforgettable images.
My Favourite: Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War (Poland). I loved this surprising and original musical film. If you liked Once or LaLaLand, you will love this movie from Poland.
Critical Darling: Alfonso Cuaron for Roma. Cuaron’s love letter to his upbringing in Mexico.
My favourite: Glenn Close in The Wife. I don’t think any other actress could have played this role as convincingly. Her face is capable of depicting emotions with great subtlety. She is mesmerizing in this.
Critical Darling: Glenn Close
My favourite: Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk. She carries this movie with her powerful role as a mother.
Critical Darling: Regina King
My favourite: Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody. I loved him as Freddie Mercury despite his overly huge prosthetic teeth.
Critical Darling: Christian Bale for Vice. He’s amazing in a deeply flawed film.
My favourite: Mahershala Ali for Green Book. His tormented character (a closeted gay musician) is incredibly moving.
Critical Darling: Mahershala Ali
All other categories from Costume Design to Visual Effects are beyond my capabilities to confidently call.
I was very busy this week trying to watch programs I had missed in my time in California, but here are some of the programs I also got to watch:
At Eternity’s Gate (1 h 51 min) Willem Dafoe stars as Vincent van Gogh during the time he lived in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France toward the end of his life. Dafoe is nominated for the role of a lifetime. He is completely convincing as the tormented artist. Rupert Friend plays brother Theo and is incredibly warm and loving in the role.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (1 h 48 min) I did watch this unbearably terrible film on the flight back from California and I was transfixed to the tiny screen unable to turn away from the searing images of Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard humiliating themselves by singing and dancing their way through this movie. Cher makes an appearance at the end that is hauntingingly reminiscent of Doris Day’s late career screen appearances which appear to have been shot through filters covered with saran wrap and vaseline. Her unwrinkled appearance will stay with you no matter how hard you may try to unsee her.
Ben is Back (1 h 43 min) A drug addicted teenage boy shows up unexpectedly at his family’s home on Christmas Eve. Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts star in this moving film about how a family deals with addiction. Powerful performances from both stars.
The Umbrella Academy (10 episodes) A disbanded group of superheroes reunite after their adoptive father, who trained them to save the world, dies. I watched the first episode because so many Canadian actors are in this, but ultimately have decided it is too young adult for me. You know, superheroes! Great to see Ellen Page and Colm Feore in good roles for them.
Newish shows you may want to catch up with on demand
The Other Two (on Comedy Central) a hilarious show about the two struggling siblings of an internet singing sensation.
Miracle Workers (on TBS) stars Steve Buscemi and Daniel Radcliffe as God and an angel in a very dysfunctional heaven.
I am the Night (on TNT) is a mystery miniseries loosely connected to the Black Dahlia murder. Stars the very blue-eyed Chris Pine as a down and out private investigator in LA in the 1950’s.
The Passage (on Fox) is a riveting show based on Justin Cronin’s novel that chronicles a secret government program that develops vampires and spins completely out of control.
SMILF (on Showtime) tells the story of a single mother in Boston. Far ranging and groundbreaking. Watch for Connie Britton as her unbearably smug and selfish boss.
Flack (on Pop) stars Anna Paquin as an unscrupulous Public Relations flack in London.
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access) and The Orville (Fox) I love both these shows. Star Trek takes itself far too seriously, but its parody,The Orville, totally pokes cheeky fun at all the Star Trek tropes.
Better Things (returns to FX this week) stars Pamela Adlon as an actress who raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. Adlon is the writer and creator of this wry and delightful comedy series.
Proven Innocent (debuts this week on Fox) and stars Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre as part of a legal team that takes on cases involving wrongful convictions.
Moment of Zen
I am now enjoying CBS Sunday Morning‘s Oscar show. This venerable series takes a look at Hollywood and tonight’s show focuses on the Oscars. Enjoy its memorable and inspiring segments that take you from the casting process, through portraits of George Chakiris and Angie Dickinson to their regular commentators’ picks for the Oscars.
Still enjoying all my favourites: Bill Maher, Steven Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee and YouTube highlights from James Corden and Seth Meyers. They make the daily news palatable for me. A spoonful of comedy makes the current events go down in the most delightful way.
Florida is enjoying wonderful weather this season. Opportunities for lying in and around our pool have abounded. I don’t want to say too much because I understand that it has been an unusually brutal winter in the North. I am looking forward to having a great gang of neighbours over this evening to watch the Oscars and enjoy delicious cocktails which inspired us when we were in California recently. Hugs to all of you and enjoy the awards tonight, wherever you are.