96 Tears and One Punch: The Oscars 2022 Season Finale

Oscars 2022!

Purple, the color of bruises.

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.

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The Oscar Quest ’22 Grand Finale: All the Other Nominees I Could Catch

tick tick BOOM!

Vanessa Hudgens and Andrew Garfield in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! on Netflix. To those who swear Garfield’s best performance of 2021 was in No Way Home, I am BEGGING you to watch a second movie.

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.

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The MCC 2022 Oscar-Nominated Short Film Revue

Robin Robin!

“One of these things is not like the other” describes both the robin in this group hug and its status as the only family-friendly Animated Short Film nominee.

Each year since 2009 (except for 2021’s pandemic lockdown marathon) I’ve paid visits to Keystone Art Cinema, the oldest surviving art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen releases of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but I appreciate the opportunities to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether I agree with their collective opinions or not. Since 2019 I’ve also assigned myself the extra-credit activity of catching as many nominees for Best Documentary Short Film as possible, depending on their availability online. The good folks at Shorts.TV, who package the theatrical releases each year, are supposed to be releasing them for home rental sometime soon, which will be a nice way to save yourself some gas money.

First up: my rankings of this year’s five Best Animated Short Film nominees, which were the most mixed of mixed bags that I’ve seen in years, not to mention the edgiest and incontrovertibly NSFW-iest. Four are available online; one was exclusive to the Shorts.tv program.

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“Parallel Mothers” and Fraught Intersections

Parallel Mothers!

When you’re up for Best International Feature but critics won’t shut up about Drive My Car.

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 hope for my expanded Oscar Quest ’22 was fulfilled: fascinating new experiences I might not have otherwise prioritized. When the nominations were announced, our town’s new indie theater was still showing Parallel Mothers, the latest feature from the continually acclaimed Pedro Almodovar. I’ve read about many of his films for over half my life, but never actually watched one all the way through before. The first time I ran across him, I was a college-bound youngster who found Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! one night while channel-flipping, but didn’t stick around for the whole thing. I also faintly remember frequent commercials on the same channel for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which likely fit well into their niche programming. Till now, that’s been it for me. Read about these fleeting moments and more in my forthcoming memoir I Was an Unsupervised Teen with Cinemax.

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Six Kind Things About “The Worst Person in the World”

The Worst Person in the World!

CAUTION: RATED NC-17 FOR SCENES OF SMOKING.

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.

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Once Upon a Time in “Belfast”…

Belfast at the movies!

Wait’ll they find out tonight’s feature presentation is In the Name of the Father.

…there was a tiny child named Kenneth Branagh, but everyone called him Buddy. He was a smarter version of Ralphie from A Christmas Story and even had the same preoccupation with the toys and films of his age, plus he even got to unwrap his fair share of Christmas gifts. He didn’t need Ralphie’s narrator powers because he was perfectly happy talking aloud to anyone who’d listen. He never got in trouble for talking too much, even when he kept pointing out little differences between Catholicism and Protestantism like an ’80s standup comic who’s never heard other comics’ routines and feels like he’s blazing new trails in the field of Just Asking Questions.

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The Secret Life of “Flee”

Flee!

WE HAVE TITLE! Also, this is exactly what we fear would happen if we ever tried using a travel agent.

Have you ever looked at a list of Academy Awards nominations and thought to yourself that the competition might mean more if you’d seen at least one film in every category? You’re in luck: if you catch Flee, you’ll have an inroad to three categories at once, as multiple AMPAS branches served up three Oscar nominations for this Danish animated documentary, one for each word in that description.

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MCC Live-Tweeting: The Oscars 2021 Pandemic Dinner Theater

Oscars 2021 telecast title card.

At least not all the awards went to white folks this year, so there’s that.

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.)

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Oscars Quest 2021: All the Other Viewing I Could Fit In Before the Big Event

Promising Young Woman, Carey Mulligan

Do you…like to watch?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

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 seen every Best Picture nominee from 1988 to the present, many of which were worth the hunt. The eight nominees for Best Picture of the Pandemic Year may pose more of a viewing challenge…

Whenever I’ve been away from here over the past six weeks, I was either hiding out in Skyrim again, getting a good night’s sleep because I’m needing those more than ever, or seeing how many of this year’s Oscar nominees I could watch. Many were on streaming services to which I already subscribe. Two were released on Redbox for us old folks who like physical media. Some were available for rental on Vudu or YouTube, though those were lowest priority. Five nominees were sadly, annoyingly beyond my grasp on services not in our household (three were exclusive to Amazon Prime, two to Apple TV). Otherwise, I was willing to let myself get carried away. I arguably did.

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The MCC 2021 Oscar-Nominated Documentary Revue

Ann Cupolo Freeman from "Crip Camp".

Retired social worker and physical rehab specialist Ann Cupolo Freeman, among the many campers who grew up to become activists in Netflix’s Crip Camp.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

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 seen every Best Picture nominee from 1988 to the present, many of which were worth the hunt. The eight nominees for Best Picture of the Pandemic Year may pose more of a viewing challenge…

In my youth and young-adulthood, seeing any of the Oscar-nominated documentaries before the ceremonies was usually impossible. Or after the ceremonies, for that matter. Streaming media changed the game and broadened access and opportunities for ordinary viewers even before the pandemic turned the convenience into a lifesaver. I’ve yet to enjoy a year in which all the nominees for Best Documentary Short Film or Best Documentary Feature were universally clickable, but the percentages have been generously high. It’s been fun seeing how many I could chase down legally without overpaying for the privilege.

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