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.
At a cozy and snappy 217 minutes (two minutes longer than last year’s), the 93rd Academy Awards went hostless for its third straight year in its very special pandemic edition co-produced by director Steven Soderbergh. A maximum of 170 guests were allowed into an auditorium furnished like a company Christmas party inside L.A.’s Union Station, while all the European nominees who cared to participate holed up in a rented UK theater, and someone let Bryan Cranston have the Kodak Theater all to himself. In pre-show interviews Soderbergh insisted strict COVID-19 protocols were in place, same as they’re using for current Hollywood productions, and AMPAS president David Rubin swore from the red carpet that everyone was “100% safe”. Here’s hoping all the scaled-down glitz and glamour wasn’t for the sake of an awkward super-spreader event.
(Occasionally a mask could be seen in the crowd. At one point the camera lingered on a seated, masked Frances McDormand glowering in repose. She was among the few celebs I spotted taking measures for the public to see. In that one moment, at least.)
I’ve been online for nearly twenty years. I’ve been on Twitter for 9½ years. MCC is nearly eight years old, though I blogged intermittently for six years before that in an even tinier space. I’ve scampered around the tunnels of Usenet, dallied in several message boards, volunteered as an unpaid moderator/admin on one site for nine years, tried the untamed DMZ that is comics discussion sites before running away screaming, and learned quickly that comments sections on major news sites were even larger sinkholes. My internet experience has been a rewarding, exhausting, surprising, discouraging, uplifting, heartbreaking search for the right environments and vehicles for my expressive impulses and my feeble attempts at what those who fit in with others call “networking”.
Luckily for me and my shifting moods, the internet offers a variety of writing formats that suit my ideas, topics, styles, visions, objectives, and wordiness vibe on any given evening. In recent years I’ve carved out comfort zones for myself in two primary outlets: Twitter and this very blog. Each option has its pros and cons. Each yields different rewards.
At a not-too draggy 215 minutes (give or take three), the 92nd Academy Awards once again sped down the same host-free track as last year, but allowed slightly more room for filler. After an intricate, audacious opening number by Janelle Monae and that Billy Porter guy who tends to wear the loudest outfits at any given awards ceremony, the audience was allowed one (1) segment for stand-up comedy, tag-teamed by former hosts Steve Martin and Chris Rock in a joint achievement in short-term blame-shifting, before the rest of the night barreled onward through the 24 aired categories and an offhand shout-out to the four winners whose lesser Oscars were deemed not fit for telecast. Considering those names included Geena Davis and David Lynch, that was one heck of an inconsiderate yadda-yadda.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last spring my wife and I had the sincere pleasure of watching the first full-length trailer Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in its premiere airing at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, surrounded by thousands of fellow fans:
The crowd watched as one. We cheered as one. We whooped and hollered as one. Together we held our breath in the seconds before the subtitle was revealed to the entire world at that very moment after years of speculation. Together we got it. Tens of thousands of voices cried out in Chicago with the interjections and expletives of their choosing. To say nothing of the reactions of the Viewers at Home.
Whether the setting is a state-of-the-art theater or an extra-large flea market, there’s something about a geek harmonic convergence that convention showrunner fiat and any number of internet trolls can’t blast away.
There was no convention to attend for the new trailer’s premiere tonight during Monday Night Football halftime, unless you count the game itself. I doubt they showed the trailer live at the stadium, but who knows. No, for this event I was at home at the same time as millions of other viewers, online and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. It wasn’t nearly the same kind of experience as the previous trailer, especially since I was trying to watch Black Lightning when it finally premiered around 9:50 pm EDT, give or take a few minutes, right in the middle of a key development with the Pierce family.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…
…and it all ends here, by which I mean we finally stop trying to prolong the magic of that eventful weekend. We’ve covered the cosplayers we saw; the actors we met; the big, big trailer we watched with thousands of other fans in an awkward communal setting; the one panel we were permitted to attend; the geek stuff we bought; and the other geek stuff we walked past.
Here on MCC, many such lists end with me promising all that “and more, more, MORE!” At long last, it’s time for the mores.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: this weekend Anne and I are attending this year’s Star Wars Celebration in scenic, freezing Chicago. Once again we returned to McCormick Place, a mere three weeks after C2E2, so the layout and the stress levels of Chicago traffic were still fresh in our minds.
At a lean 199 minutes, the 91st Academy Awards was perhaps among the speediest ceremonies in decades, but the memorable moments may have been fewer than usual because there were simply fewer opportunities for much to happen. A few presenters did their parts to liven things up — e.g., Samuel L. Jackson, Danai Gurira, James McAvoy, Barbra Streisand (a huge fan of Spike Lee, fellow Brooklynite), and a few others. The triple-threat comedy team of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph had a few minutes to fill the night’s joke quota up front, and did so with a flair enviable to those of us who didn’t watch Fey/Poehler host the Golden Globes a few years ago and who wish they could’ve been bribed into taking charge here all night long.
That being said, it was a very entertaining evening for any moviegoers who liked some of the biggest winners a lot more than I did.
The 90th Academy Awards kicked off Sunday night on ABC with a mildly amusing spoof of olde-tyme theatrical newsreels before returning host Jimmy Kimmel threw down an unprecedented gauntlet: winners were encouraged to speak on any topic they wanted to, no matter how political or incendiary, for as long as they wanted. This promise was eventually broken, much to the consternation of The Shape of Water producer J. Miles Dale, who got orchestra’d out of his spotlight moment because everyone had assumed director Guillermo Del Toro should have the last word.
Also intermittently livening up the night was Kimmel’s chief running gag, a promise of a free jet ski to whoever had the shortest speech. Thus began a night of push and pull, of comparison and contrast, of #MeToo and #TimesUp and diversity abounding and white guys still winning lots of things but not all the things.
Kimmel’s contributions and interruptions were kept to a barer minimum than last year, setting aside one segment that once again indulged his addiction to practical jokes on ordinary people. Assorted parties dropped a few wisecracks at the expense of high-ranking politicians as well as accused sex offenders, but a surprising amount of the commentary was kept on the positive side — a celebration of artists and advancement instead of roasting the haters and attackers. In that sense, some speeches were more refreshing than others.
The 89th Academy Awards began in style with Justin Timberlake singing or possibly lip-syncing his big Trolls single “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, but ended with all the feelings at cross-purposes when final presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty — reunited fifty years after Bonnie & Clyde lost to In the Heat of the Night — made Oscar telecast history by inadvertently announcing La La Land as the winner when in fact the name printed on their card was Moonlight. La La producer Justin Horowitz broke the news when, after their speech time had already begun, he approached the mic and tried to re-announce the award. At first the audience thought he was just being humble and demurring. Then everyone realized he was serious and extremely classy as he held the card up for the cameras to see. Much confusion and Twitter quips about “fake news” ensued till things were confirmed and the Moonlight team tentatively took the stage and took their turn at thank-yous.
Between those memorable moments, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel hosted in an effort to drum up business for his own show by bringing in his own bits such as “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets”, practical jokes, his Matt Damon feud, and I couldn’t tell you what else because I’ve never watched his show unless tonight’s Oscars telecast counted as an episode of it.