I remember I used to have a hard time waiting for the Oscars to arrive. I shit you not. I would get super jazzed for them, then roll my eyes at the prospect of having to wait for months between the end of the movie year and the stupid ceremony. I, uh, no longer feel this way. The Oscars come around now and I, along with the rest of America, go, “Christ, this again?”
This is because I’m older and I’m jaded enough to know that the Oscars are garbage. They are the film equivalent of your boss giving you a new title instead of a raise. And, at age 42, I no longer need my favorite movies validated by a tacky statue voted on by a bunch of senile retirees. I can wait until the cusp of spring for this show. I can wait forever.
What’s more, the Oscars have been victimized (loosest use of the term humanly possible) by the raft of award shows that precede it, rendering the calculus of prognosticating these awards relatively easy, and sucking dry what minimal suspense the Oscars could possibly offer. They needed a real-life fuckup at the end of the show two years ago to get people to notice the Oscars again, and that happy viral accident will never repeat itself.
Everyone at the Oscars looks bored to death. You can see it in their eyes. They’ve all seen each other before. They’ve all given the same tired answers to Nancy O’Dell or some other TV pud about the thrill of being nominated before. They’ve all given the same speeches many times over. When Jamie Foxx won Best Actor for Ray 15 years ago, he had already used his speech so many times in other shows that the crowd had it down to a call-and-response routine. The only people who will be genuinely ecstatic to be there on Sunday are the people that the Academy tried to banish to the commercial break:
If you’re gonna pick four categories to axe, I don’t know why you’d pick Editing and Cinematography. Live Action Short can get stuffed into a locker. But personally, I enjoy watching Best Editing go to the longest movie every goddamn year.
Keep in mind that last year’s show ran for nearly four hours. Would excluding the above awards have meaningfully shortened this year’s telecast at all? No. Will the Academy find a respectful-yet-efficient way of jimmying them back into the live show? No. They won’t even have a host this year because Kevin Hart made an ass of himself, but they’ll STILL find a way to overstuff this affair with speeches from humorless trustees, montages about how Movies Are Special, and an In Memoriam reel that won’t even include anyone who died in Avengers: Infinity War.
It’s gonna be the same tacky, bloated mess it’s always been, which is why it’s time for myself and the Deadspin staff to dig in and hate this year’s group of nominees properly. And holy shit do some of these nominees deserve it. See for yourself!
Black Panther. After years of being ignored and persecuted, the Academy has finally decided to give formal recognition to a group of people who have long deserved it. I’m talking, of course, about Marvel fanboys. These fucking dorks got to watch Black Panther become the third-highest grossing movie in history and anchor itself in the pop culture firmament forever. Yet it still wasn’t enough for them. Then the Academy proposed inventing a Best Movie People Actually Liked category (because traditionally the Academy honors low-grossing arthouse fare like Gladiator, and Braveheart, and The Return of the King), and that wasn’t enough either. The fuck more do you assholes want? Marvel is the Amazon of movies now and you’re cheering for it like it’s a mom-and-pop outfit. Geeks will never be satisfied, and we were all better off treating them like fucking geeks to start with.
Please note that this is the only major category that Black Panther got nominated for. Ryan Coogler’s directing got nothing. Great performances from Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, and Michael B. Jordan all went unrecognized. So if the movie scores a big trophy on Sunday night, this is the dude who will get the hardware:
Wonderful. Just so glad to see wealthy studio presidents finally get their proper recognition.
Also, Black Panther was too long. Every Marvel movie is longer than a Godfather installment.
BlacKkKlansman. Please note that we’re leading off with easily the least objectionable nominees from this ghastly list, even with BlacKkKlansman’s title spelled like a Utah baby name. It’s about to get much, much worse. But first, let’s all agree that Spike Lee got boned at the Oscars 30 years ago (he lost Best Director to certified asshole Oliver Stone; Best Picture that year went to Driving Miss Daisy), and let us ALSO agree that he won’t win this time either for this gritty retelling of the Clayton Bigsby sketch. And he will absolutely hold a grudge about it forever, despite the fact that this movie may as well have a blinking super throughout that says THIS IS JUST LIKE WHAT’S HAPPENING IN AMERICA TODAY.
Bohemian Rhapsody. Okay NOW we’re into the horrible shit. Bohemian Rhapsody was like if someone made the movie version of a Wikipedia page but somehow read the wrong Wikipedia page. Here’s a movie that made nearly a BILLION dollars worldwide despite the fact that you can listen to Queen for free at home anytime you like, and despite the fact that it was “directed” by an accused pederast who apparently abandoned the set every six minutes. That’s how you end up with composite shots that look like they were filmed in 18 different locations:
Top filmmaking right there. Again, that made a billion dollars somehow. You will hear lots of insufferably earnest liberal platitudes on stage Sunday night, but none of those niceties will successfully launder the sordid reality of how this whole industry operates. Bryan Singer’s movie gets a billion dollars and a shitload of Oscar noms, and another production company pays him $10 million to NOT direct a remake of Red Sonja. I saw the original Red Sonja. It’s fucking terrible (Arnold Schwarzenegger was infamously invited to join the movie in a cameo role, only to get hoodwinked into being a full co-star), and Singer getting $10 million for being attached to it is nearly as distressing as all the other shit he’s accused of having done.
The Favourite. I know this is a British movie because it’s spelled wrong! If you want to know why the Academy was so horny to create a Best Blockbuster award out of whole cloth, look no further than this movie: a cheeky costume caper seen by exactly seven people. They’d rather die than have this shit win anything. I’m just glad an Emma Stone movie got nominated for once. You never see her at these ceremonies.
Green Book, aka Dis Time, Miss Daisy Is Gonna Drive YOU! I think Spike’s death stare here speaks for us all:
This is a glorified cable TV movie, co-written by a lying racist and directed by a goofy shithead who hasn’t made a good movie in two decades, that somehow got nominated for five trophies and already won best picture at the Globes (a better TV show with a somehow even worse track record). How did this happen? Let’s check in, as we do every year, with some of the crotchety fuckheads who vote for these awards and then anonymously explain to the public how they voted they way they did:
One voter, a studio executive in his 50s, admitted that his support for “Green Book” was rooted in rage. He said he was tired of being told what movies to like and not like.
Again, I’m just glad that studio executives finally get to throw some weight around. Been too long since their voices have been heard! And I’m overjoyed that Cecil B. DeMille here voted for Green Book just to own the libs. Really burnishes the prestige of the Oscars.
Roma. Here’s your favorite to take home Best Picture this weekend, which means it’s doomed to lose out to Green Book somehow. That Times article linked above also features a substantial number of Oscar voters who won’t honor Roma because Netflix is scary to them:
A couple of those in the anti-Netflix group told me that they would vote for Cuarón for best director as a way to assuage their guilt.
Oh well, in that case, ALL IS FORGIVEN. What in the living fuck is wrong with these people? DURRR I’M TIRED OF BEIN’ TOLD WHAT TO LIKE AND WHAT NOT TO LIKE BUT ALSO I AIN’T VOTING FOR A RIVAL COMPANY.
By the way, I heard from a Hollywood insider (actually it was just my mom, who lives 3,000 miles from Hollywood) that the final shot of Roma is the same as the final shot of director Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama Tambien. Coincidence? Hardly. My man was paying homage to himself! What a glory boy. Does Sandra Bullock get lost in space in this movie too?
A Star Is Born. Is it time to make fun of that appalling Sean Penn op-ed about how Bradley Cooper got hosed out of a directing nomination? I do believe it is.
Bradley Cooper has a problem.
“If anything, he’s TOO handsome and successful.”
Sure, it all looks good on the outside. Family, fame, fortune, and with his first film as director, he’s made the most successful contemporary love story of all time.
Wow he really IS gonna say he’s too handsome and successful.
That’s exactly the problem Bradley Cooper has.
Someone get this man an emeritus position at Grantland for that twist. “The biggest problem Bradley Cooper has is that he has no problems!”
It has been so long since we have been able to equate a success or a love story with high art or artists that we may well have forgotten how.
They hold these awards every year, Sean. They gave you two of them, and those weren’t even the movies you deserved them for.
And now, with A Star is Born’s eight nominations for Academy Awards, the problem is likely to be exposed.
Ah yes, there’s no greater telltale sign of a growing crisis than being honored in bulk by the most famous award show in the world.
“Bradley is a star.” “He’s young… he’ll have plenty of opportunities.” If this, as I suspect, explains outcomes in other awards voting, voters will have certainly missed the point. This isn’t Bradley Cooper’s opportunity, it’s theirs to appreciate the depth and value of this film before its legacy outlasts their chance to participate in it.
It’ll be out On Demand soon, man. You can appreciate Bradley Cooper doing a FOURTH remake of a movie (featuring Andrew Dice Clay!) anytime you like in the coming years, or at least until Logan Paul directs his own version.
Anyway, Penn’s writing here gets much, much worse. I audibly winced. As a society, I propose we forbid Sean Penn AND Johnny Depp from ever being allowed near typewriters again.
Vice. Ah yes, what better way to escape from the hellworld we currently live in than to watch a movie about the hellworld we JUST lived in? I know I feel more relaxed. Nothing beats two hours of Dick Cheney! Vice was directed by Adam McKay who, like Peter Farrelly, made comedies for years before pivoting to being a Serious Director Man. McKay is also one of those people you follow on Twitter only to IMMEDIATELY regret it:
I love it when otherwise funny people use Twitter exclusively for liberal pamphleteering. Good thing I never do that! Anyway none of these movies are Buster Scruggs, so they can all burn.
Christian Bale, Vice. Hey, do you like watching SNL cold openings where Alec Baldwin comes out lazily mugging in his Trump costume, and then purses his lips, and then a surprise famous person appears as a White House staffer, and then the whole audience goes “WOOOOOOO!!!,” and then they just repeat, verbatim, shit that happened on the news that week? Well, how would you like two hours of that? COUNT ME IN!
Here Bale does an uncanny job of mimicking Dick Cheney’s mannerisms, all in service of a movie that has no reason to exist. It’s not like I needed Bale’s performance to realize that Dick Cheney is an asshole, especially when this movie doesn’t even mention Iraq or Halliburton.
Bale works his ass off in service of needless dreck all the time. Go ahead and look at his filmography: Vice, Mowgli, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Terminator Salvation… Christian Bale makes a LOT of shitty movies, and they’re not elevated just because he’s super Method-y and occasionally likes to bark at the crew.
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born. Bradley Cooper got nominated despite not doing anything in A Star Is Born except learning to play two chords on the guitar and talking like he just had a stroke.
Like Sean Penn, I actually was surprised that Cooper didn’t get nominated for directing this movie, because the Academy loves to give out Best Director statues to people who don’t direct. But listen, this is all for the best. You don’t want Cooper winning that award, just as you don’t want him winning this award. Cooper is every L.A. dipshit who walks around carrying a copy of Pynchon to impress others and treats himself like a serious artist:
“You know, here’s the thing,” he said. Then he smiled, but it wasn’t a happy smile, more like a resigned one. “The experience was so incredible, it was such a wonderful, wonderful experience, that it can only go downhill.”
Folks, Bradley Cooper has a problem. And that problem is that he’s a testy dick.
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate. Anyone want to watch Willem Dafoe play a tortured Vincent van Gogh for a couple hours? No?
I can respect Willem Dafoe while also finding him creepy as shit. I’m sure he’s a swell guy, but he’s 95 percent jaw and it’s unnerving. Whenever I accidentally stumble on him in a love scene, I need to bleach my insides. Let’s see what the movie is really about:
This is not a forensic biography, but rather scenes based on Vincent van Gogh’s (Academy Award® Nominee Willem Dafoe) letters, common agreement about events in his life that present as facts, hearsay, and moments that are just plain invented.
Oh so it’s every standard biopic. You’re better off reading this book instead. Or better yet, go look at some paintings. Every movie honored Sunday night features shit you’ve seen or heard somewhere else.
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody. I’d rather they just give this award to the real Freddie Mercury posthumously, since he’s the only person involved to come out of this catastrophe with their reputation intact. Let’s see what Malek, whose false teeth did all the work in this role, had to say about Bryan Singer when allegations of sexually assaulting underage boys against him came to light:
“I think that the allegations and things were, believe it or not, honestly something I was not aware of, and that is what it is.”
Yeah no, that’s a lie. You’d think a professional actor would be able to lie better. Can’t wait for a similarly inane, dodgy acceptance speech! By the way, Malek wouldn’t have even gotten this role if Sacha Baron Cohen hadn’t turned it down first, in part because the surviving members of Queen exercised an insane amount of control over the movie and wanted Freddie Mercury to die HALFWAY through the stupid thing. So glad that People Who Are Definitely Not Freddie Mercury were so protective of bastardizing his life story.
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book. AYYYYYY! YOU BELIEVE DIS FUCKIN’ GUY RIGHT HERE?! Viggo Mortensen is a perfectly good actor, which is why it makes perfect sense for the Oscars to nominate him for one of his worst performances, in a movie where he acts like a WFAN caller and makes limp cracks about fried chicken to his new boss who happens to be a black man. HILARIOUS. I would like to bar all on-screen portrayals of any character who likely refers to himself as “a character.” EY I SAY WHAT I FUCKIN’ TINK! TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT! MARONE! Green Book was made so that racist cops who love on Long Island can eventually buy it on DVD and keep it on a shelf as evidence that they are not racist.
By the way, Viggo is 60 years old. Holy shit. I want whatever roids he’s taking.
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma. Aparicio is the first indigenous woman to be nominated for this award. In fact, this was her DEBUT as an actress, and she committed to learning the Mixtec language strictly for this role. She’s a schoolteacher by trade and is publicly ambivalent about doing more acting work. Given her backstory and the bullshit she had to endure from racist assholes, it would be cool if she won this award. Which is why Glenn Close or Lady Gaga will get it instead. If I had a dollar every time Gaga was seen crying while holding a statue, I could run for President in 2020.
Glenn Close, [Borat voice] The Wife. Here’s a family drama about people of means… such a rare acknowledgement of the genre by the Academy! If you’re not already bored, this movie also happens to be about writers, the lamest people on Earth. Just endless shots of people either arguing or typing. FUN!
Close has been nominated for an Oscar six times before, but has never won. It’s likely that she’ll finally win this year, as she did at the Globes, and then we can all forget about this movie instantly. It would be like when Kate Winslet won for The Reader. Remember The Reader? No? Doesn’t ring a bell? Eh, who gives a shit.
Olivia Colman, The Favourite. You might remember (and by you, I mean me) Olivia Colman from her role as a police detective on the BBC whodunit Broadchurch, which was riveting at first and then puttered out with a hugely disappointing ending. What percentage of TV shows nail the series finale? One percent? Anyway, I want my money back for the time I invested into that show, Olivia.
Oh, and this movie existed. I think actors get nominated for costume-y roles exclusively because all the other actors know how uncomfortable the costumes are.
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born. I think I’m ready to tap out on treating Lady Gaga, only one of the biggest pop stars on Earth, as an underdog story all because this is her first movie. This wasn’t some make-or-break shit for her. And if Sean Penn thinks Bradley Cooper isn’t being recognized enough, just wait until Gaga’s speech if she wins. She will thank Cooper 87 times and prattle on endlessly about the journey they took together making this movie. Lady Gaga is about as much of an underdog story as Tom Brady at this point.
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?. No I can’t ever forgive Melissa McCarthy, because this is another goddamn movie about writers. Why, it’s like being forced to write a book report in real time! At one point, McCarthy goes to a library for a scene. Riveting. There’s also scene where they have to clean McCarthy’s apartment and they scoop out piles of cat shit from under the bed. Feeling inspired yet? I have a low tolerance for movies where sullen and lonely people drink themselves to incoherence because they’d rather be dead. So Sad Seinfeld here didn’t do much for me.
Anyway, McCarthy should have won an Oscar for her comedy work and not for starring in this drab movie and rocking Sam Kinison’s old hairstyle for it. So often, the Academy honors people for taking “risks” by doing different shit from what they’re normally good at. No wonder nobody watches this fucking show anymore. Ten years from now they’ll give Michael B. Jordan an Oscar for starring in a reboot of Scary Movie.
Mahershala Ali, Green Book. In adherence with Academy standards, this year’s Big Movie About Race is more about redeeming the main racist white character and less about the stalwart character who bears the brunt of that clueless racism. And, as an added insult, reality went ahead and mirrored the ham-handededness of Green Book, with Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga making utter fools of themselves and poor Mahershala Ali handling it all with a strain of patience that he shouldn’t be forced to deploy. Give him an Oscar just for that shit alone.
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman.
One day Adam Driver will win an Oscar for something and he’ll deserve one. But it won’t be for slurring his way through this movie. No, it’ll somehow be for an even weaker performance.
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born.
Sam Elliott got nominated for smoking three packs a day, and you can’t convince me otherwise. Anyway, the voice of Beef himself said it was “about fucking time” he got nominated, although Elliott doesn’t seem to have a firm ability to distinguish his wheat from his chaff. You remember him out-mustache-ing everyone in Tombstone, right? Yeah well he didn’t care much for it. “None of them had great box office, and I wasn’t so good in any of them.” That’s either annoyingly false humility or even more annoying candor. This man will absolutely vote Best Picture to Green Book 3 a decade from now.
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?. You’re not gonna believe, this but Grant plays a drunk in this movie. I know! I’m as shocked as you are. Anyway, everyone is swooning over Grant getting this nomination and then being adorbs-balls online about it. This is because the Internet just loves cheeky old Brits for some reason, and because drunk Americans still worship Withnail & I even though only a dozen of them have seen it.
Personally, I think Grant should have won this award decades ago for his performance as a raging dickhead in the legendary Bruce Willis flop Hudson Hawk. I’ll watch him in that again before I ever watch him in this, and I mean it.
Sam Rockwell, Vice. I know it’s a difficult role because George W. Bush has already been spoofed into oblivion, but Rockwell sucked as the former President. Like, if I’m watching a movie and it feels like I’m watching a Fox NFL pregame show comedy sketch, something has gone wrong. I paid to see a movie, not a JibJab video. Remember JibJab? NEVER GETS OLD!
Amy Adams, Vice. I keep thinking Vice is a movie about the website and, against all odds, I’d rather watch THAT movie than one about the actual subject matter at hand. But I’m sure Adams did her usual bang-up job elevating otherwise pedestrian material, portraying Lynne Cheney in a complex and humanistic light, the way she deserves!
Yeah no, fuck the entire Cheney family eternally. Again, I don’t need a movie to know this in my soul. Will Adams thank Lynne Cheney if she wins?
Marina de Tavira, Roma. I knew Roma was a lock for Best Picture the second I watched the opening credit sequence, because it’s one of those old timey black-and-white opening titles where they list everyone on the crew and then they save the title of the movie for the last card. If your movie hearkens back to when movies were good, there’s a pile of trophies waiting for you. It’s like when The Artist won everything a few years back because it was a silent movie. Does anyone remember a goddamn thing about The Artist, apart from the fact that it had a dog in it?
According to de Tavira, Cuaron wrote a detailed script for Roma but didn’t actually let anyone read it, not even the cast. He just couldn’t let anyone spoil the fact that Lando Calrissian makes a surprise appearance halfway through. Was the movie still nominated for Best Screenplay? You know it was. Like Cuaron, I also have scripts that no one has read. Where are MY Oscars, hmm?
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk. Here’s your favorite in the category. Somehow she’ll lose to Emma Stone.
Emma Stone, The Favourite. EMMA STONE! For this movie, Emma Stone’s English accent was somehow worse than Peter Dinklage’s in Game of Thrones. Did it matter to voters? FUCK AND NO, it didn’t. No, she still got a throwaway nomination, and she’ll keep getting them for the next four decades. In the future, she’ll win something for The Iron Lady 2 and no one will have seen it.
Also, fuck Aloha.
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite. I’m happy for Weisz to be nominated because she’s gonna bring hubby Daniel Craig to the show, and I promise you that Craig will spend the entire night looking like he’d rather be installing curtain rods. If you get even ONE smile out of that dour asshole, it’ll be pained. How he hasn’t been cast in 57 different Victorian costume dramas already is beyond me. The man was BORN to be unhappy.
Weisz has already won this award for The Constant Gardener, which I always get confused with The English Patient. So this ceremony is all old hat to this couple. This is a chore. This is boring. And on Sunday night, I will feel solidarity with them. Everyone who gets a trophy will be ecstatic. The rest of us will be bored to death. Fuck the Oscars, these Oscars especially.