On Hollywood's biggest night, the movies became an immediate afterthought. After an ill-conceived joke delivered by Chris Rock at Jada Pinkett Smith's expense, soon-to-be Best Actor, Will Smith, took matters into his own hands (quite literally); he walked on stage, slapped Rock across the face, sat back down and started hurling expletives at Rock on broadcast television in the middle of the show. It was a shockingly candid and disorienting moment, perhaps the most unexpected occurrence to happen at the Academy Awards ever (surpassing even the La La Land--Moonlight debacle). Without rehashing the spin cycle of this unfortunate media story, let's just say that this incident upstaged and detracted from the rest of the ceremony. For the record, I have little to no opinion on "The Slap," and instead want to spend my time recapping some of the noteworthy categories and victories.
First off, congratulations to Sian Heder and the entire CODA team! We've been recommending this film for a while now; we spectulated on how it would compete at the Oscars, and in turn, endorsed it to take home the top prize. For those of you troll-lord wet blankets out there who think CODA is a schnazzy, souped-up version of a sappy movie from the Hallmark Channel and unworthy of the praise and accolades its received, let me cordially insist that you shut the hell up. While I myself might not have considered it to be the best film of the year, it is obviously in the conversation as such and is a more than worthy recipient of Best Picture. The whole film is extremely well-made, and the last 30 minutes are absolutely lights out: the choir concert when the audio cuts out; the scene where Ruby sings to Frank on the pickup truck; the audition when Ruby performs and starts to sign; and when Ruby departs for college. And who among us wasn't completely devastated when Troy Kotsur says, "Go!" -- I mean c'mon, that scene turned me into a puddle of tears. Because I'm a total sap and at times an emotional masochist, I recently rewatched this clip in the wake of CODA's victory -- YouTube user Saahil Akhtar put it best: "A daughter explaining a song to her deaf family is one of the most purest forms of love and affection i have ever seen depicted on a screen." I vehemently agree with Saahil on that one.
And once again, CODA won Best Picture!! This headline was basically buried in the wake of the uninvited theatrics and post-show dialogue that "The Slap" stirred up. In that way, the Oscars became relevant in a way they haven't been for years. The show was in desperate need of a "holy shit!!" moment and trading in institutional credibility for cultural relevancy is certainly a short-term win. Who cares anwyway? At least more people tuned in to a show that they otherwise would've forgotten was happening entirely. I, too, was swept up in the mayhem -- it was hard not to be, right?! Seeing Smith smack Rock and sleuthing Film Twitter to figure out what was happening was absolutely bonkers. But in the midst of the chaos and confusion, the Oscars (once again) lost their focus and drew attention away from the only thing that actually mattered -- the movies. Ultimately, the CODA team, Jane Campion, Jessica Chastain, Questlove, and many others, were sidelined rather than headlined. And that's a big bummer considering their achievements. My hope is that once everything dies down, the Oscars will be in a better place going into next year. Perhaps some of the people who tuned in after "The Slap" stuck around and found interest in some of the nominated films -- maybe they'll even be inclined to tune in next year to celebrate the movies rather than wait for shit to hit the fan. And maybe not. CODA, Campion, Chastain, Questlove, and yes, even Will Smith, show a light going forward that this institution and its voting body are ready and willing to showcase and award a broader breadth of filmmakers and performers. That's a much better headline, don't you agree?
Hopster: Even though the nights' award outcomes went mostly chalk, I got absolutely waxed this year (which sounds bizarrely difficult to pull off). Just goes to show that betting big on Dune was the right call, eh @Isaac?
Isaac: You chump! I loved your well thought out predictions and arguments but just typing Dune over and over again proved to be the real money-winner here.
Hopster: Don't forget, everyone in Dune is hot -- that certainly helps. And yo by the way, the next beer is on me!
Isaac: I can't wait!