And the Oscar Goes To…zzzzzzzzzzzz

Alison:

Here are the bullet points re: the Oscars that have dominated our newsfeeds in the last couple days.

  • It was very white.
  • It was sort of boring and endless.
  • Joan Rivers and Elaine Stritch weren’t in the In Memoriam.
  • John Travolta and his wig continued their transformation into your skeevy uncle on Quaaludes

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Seriously, dude, STOP touching my chin.

Neil Patrick Harris’ lackluster hosting disappointed me most. The man is the closest there is to a Sure Thing in the award show world. But after the passable opening musical number, the rest of the evening stretched on interminably, punctured by intermittent dad puns and poorly timed, mostly harmless pot shots. His running gag with the locked box and Octavia Spencer made me cringe. I kept shouting “No one gives shit about your predictions!” Thankfully, they were not literal award predictions, but a Hollywood Magic Castle-style trick, where he pulled a list of awkward happenings from the night out of the briefcase.  I must admit, that did surprise me and also one dude in the audience. But I don’t blame NPH for the evening falling flat. He’s got charisma for dayzzzz, boi. The Oscars are a big, bloated mess, and it will take real dedication to cut the fat down to a manageable size.

Elise:

I’ll say something controversial here.

NHP was just really bad, yes, and the evening literally never stopped. Somewhere, the Oscars is still happening—though Meryl Streep walked out days ago, and Steve Carrell has taken to hosting a mini-show in a corner for all the sad souls desperate for a laugh.

Everyone is talking about the speeches. Many made impassioned pleas for a cause or three. Though all issues raised are important, and desperately in need of dialogue and discussion—I. Didn’t really. Like it. The outcry-as-acceptance speech phenomenon, I mean.

I can’t say why, exactly—maybe the breadth of issues raised seemed to diminish each individual one? Maybe it’s not awesome to be lectured to by someone who is quite privileged and sheltered by virtue of his or her profession? Maybe I didn’t actually like some of the folks who won—not as people, of course—but as artists. The Imitation Game script was kind of a bummer piece of writing, guys. Be better at the thing you are paid millions and millions of dollars to do. Be better at crafting words that Benedict Cumberbatch will say with his beautiful mouth.

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Again: this is absolutely not me taking a stand against wage equality for women, or LGBTQ youth empowerment. It is me saying: know your audience, and know your platform. What do you want us, watching the Oscars on a Sunday night—exhausted and completely uninspired by all the sparkly, empty nonsense—to do? What’s our call to action? What’s the next step, for all of us?

JK Simmons was my favorite. He got personal, got specific, and was truly genuine without being preachy. Not like I’m being right now. Okay, I’m done.

Alison:

Enough about the garbage we didn’t like. Let’s be Positive Pollys, and get on board with some of this ish.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Yes, just generally, but see above for his cute bit with a flask in the opening. There weren’t enough “celebrities in cahoots” moments.

JK Simmons’ speech (just like Elise! Soulmates!)

The man has been making awards speeches for months now. He’s thanked errbody already. So I loved how much time he spent really thanking his wife and kids and making everyone call their parents. And I had already called my mom earlier that day, thank you very much. (She didn’t answer.)

Elise:

 I was watching the show with my mom. So I win against you all. Even JK.

Alison:

Chris Pine crying at the performance of Glory

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Word, bro. I have crazy white guilt, and I think I would have spontaneously combusted had I been in that theatre.

Lady Gaga

She sounded great! Wish this tribute hadn’t come in hour 14, but it perked me up and lead to Julie Andrews in the flesh!

This Meryl Streep Moment 4Evr

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 I plan to use this infinity times. To punctuate things like, “I don’t need a man” and “I washed my sheets today.” She’s my Lil Affirmation Meryl.

Elise:

I approve and agree with all of these choices. I must add one of the best things ever: Chelsea Peretti’s Twitter feed.

I’ve never totally and fully engaged in a large-scale live-Tweeting event—too intimidated, and freaked out by the lightning-speed of it all. Trolling on Sunday, I realized that Chelsea is my everything. By hour two, I was basically just waiting to see what she would say next.

A random sampling:

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All the amazing Lego Oscar award statues go to her.

—Alison & Elise

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The Real Thing

I’m tired of the Oscars. My fascination with the movies I loved, and interest in the movies I appreciated (if not adored) is waning. Snubbery happens every year, and everybody talks about it forever. The Academy is never really all that plugged in with the best of the best, and women, minority and offbeat artists are almost always overlooked. There are so many other awards shows leading up to the Oscars—every actor in Los Angeles appears bored, bedraggled and hungover for three months solid. Worst of all: nobody gets any work done, and we forget the reason we’re all here in the first place.

too tired to care

This year, the movies that I saw fit neatly into two categories: made for the Oscars, and not made for the Oscars. I enjoyed The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch, obviously), but the sum of its parts was too obviously calibrated to hit the Academy’s sweet spots. The Imitation Game took complicated source material and bullied it into a linear, often sentimental story. I stepped back into the terrible fluorescent Cineplex lobby lighting, and most of the movie dropped right out of my head. Ditto Wild, Into the Woods—even Foxcatcher, which was more affecting, but bizarrely paced. I walked away from Foxcatcher distracted, unsettled—and a little bit hungry, for some reason.

But then, there’s Whiplash, Boyhood, Ida and Birdman—movies that are essentially love letters written by the film’s creators to their own characters. As the credits rolled, I was tempted stay put and scream rewind over and over again until I was asked to leave. I’m all about honoring movies for examining art, friendship, love and childhood in a meaningful way. But, more than anything else, I want to see more.

Frances McDormand took home this year’s Screen Actor’s Guild award for Best Actress in a TV Movie or Miniseries. In her acceptance speech, she expressed her thanks for the invite, and a sincere desire to “get some really cozy slippers, a box of See’s Nuts & Chews, hang out and watch more of our work.”

Go watch Olive Kitteridge, she said. I’m in a show at a theater up the street, also—come see that! This has been nice—now let’s get back to doing the real thing.

Frances McDormand loves what she does. She loves what other great actors, writers, directors and producers do. So do I. So do we all. That’s why we go to the movies and buy absurdly priced cable packages. And put our dumb opinions on the Internet.

The Oscars paint a shiny veneer over a the year in film, when most of the artists invited to the party have toiled and bled and cried and lost sleep and had panic attacks and gone without cake or booze for months to create a ninety-minute phenomenon that will knock our socks off. To make something that reminds us of our humanity, and celebrates it.

The audience is wider than Los Angeles’s own Illuminati. The work is the reward. This is true of almost any well-loved undertaking. The best things are those you work your butt off to achieve—so much so that you don’t really need or want or care about the accolades that come after it. I don’t want more acceptance speeches. I want more of everything else.

Also, have you seen Olive Kitteridge yet? Because seriously, you should.

–Elise

Today, We Mourn

Class act Benedict Cumberbatch announced his engagement to actor Sophie Hunter in The Times today, further proving that no one else from our real lives will ever be good enough. Now, if you’ll please excuse us because we have things to do.

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– Alison + Elise