If you count the one-hour unaired portion of the 94th Academy Awards that began at 7 p.m. EDT, this year’s return to the Dolby Theatre technically came in at a staggering 272 minutes when the usual legal disclaimers rolled at 11:42 p.m., beating the year A Beautiful Mind won by nine minutes. We already knew going into this evening that it couldn’t possibly beat the Shortest Oscars Ever record of 100 minutes, achieved in 1959 when an angry Jerry Lewis gave all the Oscars to The Geisha Boy, read his 90-minute doctoral thesis about muscular dystrophy, and called it a night. Just the same, these Oscars were a lot, even before the cruel insult and the on-stage assault.
It’s that time again! Longtime MCC readers know this time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve watched every Best Picture winner ever (some more closely than others) and as of this writing I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee released since 1987 (some in better-quality formats than others). Nobody I know cares, but it’s been my thing for years.
Thanks to pandemic restlessness and our current streaming media bonanza, starting last year I expanded the boundaries of Oscar Quest to see how many nominees I could watch in any category whatsoever, period. This is equally unimpressive to everyone I know, but now it’s like a game for me, and a far livelier one than solitaire.
Indulging in the Academy Awards season is easier than ever if you have the free time and all the accesses. The proliferation of streaming services has opened new doorways for any wannabe cineaste to create their own little film festival at home, with a panoply of options from across every category. However, some nominees still stubbornly observed the time-honored tradition of refusing a wide release until after their nominations were secured, and have therefore been exclusive to theaters this past month. Thankfully this year has been easier than ever for me to catch up to Real Critics — as of today Indianapolis has expanded from one tiny theater to four whole theaters willing to show films of all sizes, not just blockbusters, as we did ten years ago. It’s almost like we’re this close to becoming a real Big City.
One drawback I fully expected from my expanded Oscar Quest ’22: not every film is for me. I don’t mean simply “some films bad.” I make no pretense to objectivity in these entries here on my li’l unpaid quasi-boutique hobby-job. No matter how many critics love a given work or how many awards it’s been put up for, I will not and cannot love everything, nor does everything have a fair shot with me. Some stuff is simply Not My Thing. There’re a few different ways a movie can lose me. Norway’s acclaimed dramedy The Worst Person in the World invokes a couple of them.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, at the beginning of 2016:
As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.
Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays…
…and it’s been a minor MCC annual tradition ever since. On average I would play three times per week, maybe two hours per session, and get through four to six games per year, except when I spent thirteen months on Borderlands 2, that other time I spent nine months of 2019 on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel…and, as you can understand, when I ventured to Skyrim for eleven straight months in the Year of our Pandemic 2020. That February I’d entered the Elder Scrolls world for the first time. A month later, the real world fell to pieces.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in 2021 I made 22 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. The year before, the pandemic thoroughly quashed the moviegoing experience and shrank my annual year-in-review entry to a mere four entrants, which barely counted as a “list” and convinced me to start a new, separate annual MCC tradition: a ranking of all the brand new films I saw on comfy, convenient home video in their year of release.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2021 I made 22 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the majority from “this film is pretty keen” to “this film is my mortal enemy” but in reverse. And now, the countdown concludes with the ten most relatively awesome films I saw at a theater in 2021 that were released for general audiences in 2021. Exactly those dates. Exactly those dates.
EXACTLY those dates.
It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats fiend in me that thrives on taking head counts, even when we’re expecting discouraging results.
Hey, you guys remember that time when we used to attend comic-cons and entertainment conventions and they were fun, and then we posted photos and those were fun too? Heh. Yeah, that, uh, that was awesome.
Then came the pandemic. The body counts rose worldwide, long-term illnesses wrecked many a survivor, everyone stayed home and all event calendars were wiped clean, tossed into File 13 and set afire. Our last show was GalaxyCon Louisville in November 2019. We skipped C2E2 the following February because the guest list didn’t wow us and, frankly, who loves a con in Chicago wintertime? After that, every con we know either scrapped their 2020 plans or kept postponing and postponing and postponing, biding their time until either vaccines or alien saviors cleared a path back to geek normalcy.
If you’ve opened an internet device within the past two months, chances are you’ve been inundated with discussions, arguments, and most importantly nonstop headlines about the latest Disney+ series to mesmerize the nation, Marvel’s WandaVision. Thanks to the pandemic this nine-episode miniseries is the first new Marvel Cinematic Universe story we’ve been allowed to watch since Spider-Man: Far From Home was released in theaters, if you can remember those from your childhood. Picking up the pieces of Avengers: Endgame and everything that led up to it…well, I could assume you’re not watching it and need me to summarize its premise, but will it help? Will this make it more tempting to you? Now that the MCU is bogged down in a dozen years of its own increasingly insular continuity, take it on faith my rinky-dink one-man site is not the set of buggy steps you’d need to hop on board this bandwagon.
Nevertheless, WandaVision fever is sweeping the nation faster than that other, deadlier joykilling fever that’s been all the rage over the past year. Everyone loves WandaVision so much that WandaVision news, reviews, rumors, and contrived WandaVision bloviations are now a cottage industry unto themselves, particularly on geek news sites that thrive on new content including but not limited to speculative prattle about geek products that people are actually consuming and enjoying en masse, as opposed to the poorly selling comic books that made them possible. Try Googling any topic today and the first five search results will tell you how that topic relates to WandaVision. Day or night, geeks or norms, social media or niche sites, everything’s coming up WandaVision, WandaVision, WandaVision.