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"Oscars 2022: How I Celebrate 96 Years of Great Films and a Glamorous Night of Stars"


 



Oscar with all his buddies

It's Monday Morning, and in addition to the coverage last night from the red carpet, if you were ever an interested party, you’ve read just about your fill of 96th Academy Award Coverage. Funny to me that so many folks write their thoughts and opinions in real-time when just about any work created in Hollywood can be best appreciated in hindsight, after multiple viewings, and with time. It is art, after all, not just a finished product that is palatable and sufficient onto itself. It breathes best after a shelf life that extends far beyond our current attention spans allow. 

All that to excuse a critique of the award show days after its telecast. Just like a great meal, I needed to let it rest.

Wherever you see a critique, you are sure to find criticism. Shit-talking is now so ingrained into our lexicon that it breeds duplication in every direction. Talking down to those with too high an opinion of others, talking in circles that barely skim the periphery of another person's point of view, and finally, negative self-speak about oneself, crowning the trio as the central aspect of how we define who we are. We hate ourselves to a point so sharp it has to be supported by hating that which we can’t humanize: a larger collection of more mothers’ children doing something that might make them happier than our mothers’ children have done. 

To say this will not be one of those grossly galvanized essays on a ceremony I was not invited to is an understatement. I’m just happy to have seen humans in an awkward setting being human on their own without direction.

I was hungry for good wins this year. Starved for fun, so I decided to make it a night in my home with tapas and caviar. We ain't ballin’ like that, sis, so don’t come at with side-eye. The other day, some show on Netflix showed David Chang, Ike Barinholtz, and Seth Rogen eating S&V Potato Chips with fried eggs, souboise onions, and caviar. Well, they had a bucket of some stuff that cost more than my existence last year. This isn’t to say eggs are worth more than me, but I wouldn’t have been able to afford them on my salary alone last year. I guess this is still not a good enough description of how expensive the caviar may have been since who knows what I made in 2023 aside from me, but I can confess, I made a very generous salary, just shy of six figures alone. Why else would I have quit my job to write and get paid in rejections instead? But now you understand how much the caviar they ate on the show must have been.

Anyway, I wanted to try to make it at home, and World Market has a Caviar Flight for only $25. I needed a carton of eggs, so Deviled Eggs with Caviar made their way onto the menu. I had some leftover Polenta, so we decided to bake them into little bites for Gold & Crispy Creamy Shrimp and Grits. A Bagged Salad rounded everything out quite nicely. As I rewatch the Oscars and make a more thoughtful review, I’ll be eating some small leftover bites and hyperlinking the recipes for your convenience. Who knows, maybe you’ll have found this review after SEO algorithms took you to one of the recipes. Then you’ll be able to definitively proclaim that Eggs did, in fact, come first. The next question is if and when I'll post the recipes here and what good something like that will do. A picture can speak a thousand words, or so they say, so here's a pic of what was before we ate.



It’s very easy to get greedy and inhale the tiny eggs down the wrong pipe when grabbing a devilish bite of yolk-stuffed hard-boiled eggs. I suppose that's what the bubbly is for—tipsy self-confidence that calms the nerves into believing you deserve the best and tasting it the way sunshine and oud feel with a hint of sand and palm fronds. Next year, I’d like to do it all again with like-minded adults who thrive in joy without a high cost to human decency. 

Imagine being given a chance to have your life under a microscopic lens while being paid and for free. Imagine being weighed as valuable in the eyes of public opinion. Sure, it’s over the top and glamorous, as it damn well should be. Most of the opinions we have and views of our world in the last 50 years have been shaped by the stories written and seen and the portrayals brought to life by characters made real. Then, just for a second, imagine the time it takes to plan a family photo with more than ten people in the shot. Getting the light right for the tallest and shortest at the same time and not including anything unwanted into the frame. There’s a lot that goes into keeping the unruly masses entertained. 

There were some interesting and thought-provoking films in 2023, some that didn’t get nominated, of course. Their lack of recognition doesn’t disqualify them as not being good enough, but I can understand how those people could have perhaps felt that way. Now imagine for a second that folks behind the scenes, the crew, and production, working multiple projects in a year or a year before, and being forgotten for an award because their publicist didn’t care enough to do the work. I can’t begin to consider all the politicking involved in the nomination process. To quantify it as just a popularity contest seems too void of imagination for such a larger-than-life event. Only we, few on the border of being more than we are, could see the white and black as starkly as that. We understand the grey fluff best because that’s where we constantly live. If more people lived in the grey, perhaps we’d be better off. But I digress. 

I searched for comments on Da’Vine’s snub of Regina King because I felt it both ways. I thought about the time I was overwhelmed once and forgot to pay respect to a family member at my grandmother's wake. I was tear-heavy and weighed down by the day. It was only the people directly in my sight who I saw, and it was only afterward that I realized what I’d done. But I’ve also been the one not seen, and fuck! That played with my confidence for a number of days. Millions of people weren’t witnesses, so I can’t even begin to imagine how Regina felt at the moment, perhaps wondering what she had done and then settling comfortably in the path of the avalanche of optics and speculation. Both women are now open to critical observations based on a decision the camera crews made and the one Da’Vine may have committed in error. Nobody knows exactly how to be famous, and isn’t that what makes the variety of Hollywood so extremely entertaining? Grace is free and cut to fit everyone without mending.

Regardless of the hiccup we saw, my eyes only really focused best on the rest upon re-review. We all are guilty of rookie mistakes. Let us not belabor the point or further deny the beautiful gesture of praise, equity, and recognition as a welcome to the night’s true meaning, lifting up those we see in one of the most meaningful new additions to the ceremony. 

It would appear, though, that animators need to make more cartoons about boys and animals. Even the short ones tend to focus on reframing the ideas we raise our young male-identifying children to believe. I’m somewhat more hopeful about the world artists are trying so desperately to leave our youngest ones to inherit. I didn’t watch any of the ones nominated this year for short film and feature, nor the year before, but I did, with pleasure, read The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse. I’m sure it brought to life was well worth it. 

Over ten years before, I was active in theater and worked as a Music department manager at Barnes and Noble. Remember those with the annual Criterion sales, Red Dot listening stations, and young adults who could talk to you All About Eve? Me too, and those were the days. Barnes and Noble was not retail the way retail is today, nor was it multimedia retail the way Tower Records over-extended itself to be before its suicide. Well, back then, some friends and I made it a point to watch a movie every weekend.

Some films were more for our own enjoyment without the promise of getting a nomination. Then came a time when just about every film released attempted to be like Maestro, hyper-aware of its merits though desperate for an ill-placed attaboy. Attention-seeking screenplays screamed silently this year for the best. I was pleased to sneak a peak at the silent farts that poisoned the Academy air so pungently that they resurrected writers who ate eggs for years and deserved to finally be center stage. Do I need to wax poetic about American Fiction? Of course I do, and so did the Academy. Yes, 200 Billion dollars is an absolute risk, like oversized tins of Ostera Caviar, and there will never be enough to share; the excess becomes a waste. There are less expensive, full-rounded ideas with depth that are easier on the collective mental consciousness of conspicuous consumers and much easier to digest. Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction did what a book-to-screen adaptation of a reality fictionalized for profit has not once ever been able to accomplish, and all the praise is worthy, plus more. The Erasure of identity and supplementation of its closest proximity is over, and the weight of its absence is refreshing and overdue. Let’s make it a trend, shall we?

And, let’s please make Potato Chips with both chicken and fish eggs a trend, too, can we? Oh, my word. There is something irresistible about the taste of hot, butter-fried eggs resting on a bowl of Salt and Vinegar potato chips with briny pops of black caviar and green bits of fresh-cut herbs. The best way to eat this masterpiece is with an oversized spoon and bottle of Prosecco between bites. You couldn’t tell me for a second that I didn’t belong in that room last night thanks to a bowl of high-low that cost my husband and me less than a 5-gallons of gas. Unfortunately for me, I had to kind of wing the Onion soubise because I wasn’t quite sure how to make it anything other than a sauce. It wasn’t until today that I found a link to the Tudum link with recipes from the series. David compares it to a blended remix inspired by chilaquiles and an item on his menu at Momofuku Ko that not many folks have been able to taste. David Chang’s Potato Chips and Eggs was easier to make and tastier than I ever could have imagined.



A nomination is really not so bad. I would take recognition as a bullet point on my resume, and I suspect most laypeople whose daily work does less to impact thousands of humans may feel the same way. We mustn’t act like we’re more evolved for believing the contrary. All the pieces that make a film come together with seemingly effortless ease get honored center stage more frequently, and that makes my heart happy. To see so many women who use our emotional capacity to round out a character with shadow or draped in flow from considerate fabrics, the product that we are gifted is a child with endless possibilities. A Holy relic of sorts that creates a thirst to learn more about Craft. We love to see it and pray that exposure leads to greater interest and broader opportunity. 

And who doesn’t enjoy an opportunity to see the potential of good company, teammates, and a focused objective get awarded as proof of their efforts and the birth of what is to come? Watch telecasts of years past and see how much progress has been made on stage and screen compared to a corporate Board of Directors in any other given job sector. The art has always inspired necessary change. Those who have passion are those who give birth, whether good, bad, or indifferent; the spark ignites a contact high burn that disorients us alive.

I saw a miniature Queen in a baby blue ball gown take the assured walk onto the stage to accept an award for a project in which she was directly involved. Having always been a fan of the Academy Awards, had seen a soldier like her or the documentary short, who knows, I may have never quit playing the saxophone. The Last Repair Shop heralds the magic makers doing good for the integrity of a thing. And let us not forget that beyond all the glitter and sheen lay the people with feelings and words, giving them the opportunity to express them for the entire world to see. That is a quiet vulnerability hollered holier and higher than any of us could scream an Amen.

Let’s talk about the writers this year, shall we? The monologues written were served with a pearl spoon on whipped yolks seasoned generously before being sprinkled with smoked trout caviar. They were devilishly divine, sharply pointed and on time. Issa Rae, I see you. Next time, I’ll sprinkle some Flaming Hot Cheetos on my Deviled Eggs. Call them Smoke and Fire Eggs.

Don’t dismiss the Governers Awards just because you didn’t see them. And Don’t dismiss the winners because you didn’t like them over the same tire tripe you’re used to watching that has yet to get its proper due. Should more indie films fill your bucket, there's an award show for you. If you should ever feel there isn’t enough of any one niche market you prefer to set your eyes on, guess what? There's an award program out there somewhere for you.  The Academy members even prepared themselves for the potential of negative complaints for the In Memorandum segment with the longer list to account for anyone person who was film-adjacent and a QR Code for those wishing to see the recognition on the screen for a longer amount of time.

It isn’t that I feel people need to stop being objective and find areas for the Motion Picture Academy’s improvement. Lord knows it wouldn’t be the show it is now were it not for those critiques in the past. My only request is for folks to find joy in something that at least one person in the world found joy in being part of. To live with a softer heart to the accomplishments and drive of others. To take five hours out of your day to celebrate a thing that we are not at all entitled to have. 

Next year I think I will wear a gown. I’ll shop for one at a thrift shop and make a couple more bites for a lavish spread with hopes of sharing one night of shine with smiles that match. There’s a silent ease that wealth affords those who are brave enough to bite at it. There’s a class that triumphs the pomp and circumstance under the veil of a night reserved for the glam. There is something to be taken away from the realness of being in front of a room of stars and wishing in your heart for the brightest one because it’s the one in your direct sight. The others still shine bright, ney brighter, due to proximity. Let us have nights that make us want more from our lives.




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