Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Johnny Deadline: Oscars!

 by JB

I’m back with a new column.

A few weeks ago, I read that elderly people who do not engage their minds are more likely to one day suffer from dementia. One week ago, I celebrated my 62nd birthday. Given that my normal day consists of naps, shuffling around, and watching movies, I realized that I needed to jump back onto the F This Movie! horse if I plan to avoid senility. So, gentle readers, I am back. Thank you all for being part of the solution!

Every Oscar Sunday, I wake up and turn to my lovely wife. “Is Red Carpet on telemission machine yet?” I ask. “Me wantses see many lady pretties in all they gownses.” (It takes me a few minutes every morning to be fully awake, plus I’m working on my Gollum impression.)

UH-OH! HE’S GOING OFF ON A CRAZY TANGENT: I am waxing nostalgic today about the terrific Oscar party we hosted for many years. We always had a “Guess the Winners” Oscar contest (The prize was usually Coppola wine.), appetizers themed to the Best Picture nominees, and the Choscar, a delicious slab of Merkts cheddar lovingly carved by my wife into a delicious golden statuette. What might we have served this year? Portuguese custard tarts for Poor Things? Oppenheimer Flaming Hot Cheetos? Killers of the Flower Moon Pies?


I usually love watching the endless red-carpet spectacle on ABC. In California, it starts at 10am and goes right up to the broadcast at 4pm PST. Six hours—that’s a lot of carpet. I don’t remember ever before seeing such shameless hucksterism on the red carpet itself. Telecast cohost Rachel Brown just spent two minutes holding up a Blu-ray disc and assuring us that we are all going to want to add Poor Things to our movie collection. Another spokesmodel assures us that after the “best in movies,” we the audience were going to want to stay tuned for the “best in television,” when ABC drops a brand-new episode of Abbott Elementary. So... the Oscars experience, which has always been a glorified commercial for “the movies,” now features disguised commercials on the red carpet that are repeatedly interrupted by... real commercials. Clearly, ABC wants to take full advantage of the millions of eyeballs watching this year’s spectacle. I can’t help thinking that turning the festivities into such a non-stop ad onslaught was suggested in the past but nixed by television executives who weren’t so... shameless.

This whole Oscars red carpet experience can be summarized by a light paraphrase of the last paragraph of George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “And in the end, the commercials were indistinguishable from the programming.”

Random Thoughts on the 96th Annual Academy Awards:
More actors should take a page from Billie Eilish’s style playbook and dress in modest Catholic school uniforms. I love plaid!

I can’t believe that for years, I thought nominee Jeffrey Wright had done the voice of Sebastian in the original Little Mermaid film. I am an idiot. (Sebastian was voiced by SAMUEL Wright.)

How entertaining was Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue, you may ask? Halfway through it, I laughed and spit out my temporary crown.

Asking past winners to say a few words about each acting nominee before the winner is announced was brilliant—so much better than typically lame presenter banter or a quick clip montage. As the evening went on, the advantages of this presenting strategy became clear: Let’s celebrate all the nominees in an honest, heartfelt manner rather than focusing only on the "horse race" of the competition.

Between Da’Vine Joy Randolph winning Best Supporting Actress, The Boy and the Heron winning Best Animated Feature, Anatomy of a Fall and American Fiction winning the Screenplay awards, and Poor Things winning for Best Make-Up and Hairstyling AND Production Design AND Costume Design, this seems like a new era (era) in Oscar history: I am not used to the best nominee actually WINNING.

I am continually reminded that Disney owns ABC because of all the commercials for Disneyland and the Aulani resort in Hawaii. Why doesn’t Disney just sponsor the Oscar telecast wholesale and keep the commercials to a minimum? Film lovers the world over would thank them!

Best commercial? The Hulu ad that reminded us of all the nominees and winners that are currently streaming on Hulu.

After decades of similar-sounding, middle-of-the-road Best Song Nominees, the Osage Tribal Singers' live performance of "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" from Killers of the Flower Moon was an energizing change of pace. Go, drum circle!

Nominees for Worst Presenters: Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy.
Nominees for Best Presenters: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, comparing notes on how Batman vanquished them in Batman Returns and Batman & Robin, respectively. Arnold twice calls Batman a “son of a bitch.”

Second best commercial? Rolex, showcasing great moments in cinema history that incidentally include Rolex watches. "Every hero needs an ally"? Sure, but daddy needs a Rolex—Marty has one, why not me?

More Nominees for Best Presenters: Kate McKinnon and America Ferrara, presenting the Documentary winners, with McKinnon admitting she thought the Jurassic Park films were all documentaries. "But Jeff Goldblum is real, right?"

I absolutely loved it when Mstyslav Chernov won for his documentary feature 20 Days in Mariupol. One could tell the audience was on tenterhooks because his acceptance speech was so political; they seemed afraid of what he might say next. They needn’t have worried. Chernov said, “Cinema creates memories, and memories become history.” Kudos to the Oscar producers for not playing him off.

More kudos to Oppenheimer cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema for suggesting that more filmmakers should shoot on film. I’m not just saying this because my son works for Kodak. It's no coincidence that "shot on film" productions garnered 44 Academy Award nominations this year.

They left Treat Williams out of the “In Memorium” montage.
Best "Tight Three" Stand-Up Set Mid-Telecast: John Mulaney.

Best Production Number (By a Mile): Best Song nominee “I’m Just Ken,” as performed by the "luminous and multi-talented" Ryan Gosling and his Mojo Dojo Ken Krew. (Review of Ryan Gosling provided by my wife.)

With all due respect to Emma Stone’s standout performance in Poor Things, I am left wondering if Native American actors are going to need to wait another 96 years before an indigenous actor wins an Oscar. Given the strength, sensitivity, and careful complexity of Lily Gladstone's amazing performance—not to mention how important Westerns have been during the entire history of the medium—this seems like an especially egregious omission.

Only one presenter was naked, and no one got punched. All in all, a fun 3 hours and 23 minutes, celebrating an art form that tells our stories and saves our lives.

And three minutes shorter than Killers of the Flower Moon!


  1. Huzaaaa! Great article captain JB!

    Love the stories from parties past and the reveal that your wife is a cheese sculptress!?!!?! (Armed with such information would drive lesser men to dad jokes...actually i am said lesser men)......ahem...Id like to place an order for the following statues for next years Oscars:
    * Brie Larson
    * Cuba Gouda Jr
    * Roquefort Balboa
    * Parmejohn Hamm
    * Cocaine Camembert
    * Mozzarella Mikkelson OR Mads Mikkelson in a documentary about painted musicians that play tubed instruments (Danish Blue (man group))
    * Edam Bagley Jr
    * Fontina Turner
    * A bunch of minions made out of cheddar surrounding their leader....Gru(yere).

    As for the Oscars...i quite enjoyed them this year. As a kid raised on svengoolie Godzilla, i actually jumped off the couch for Godzilla Minus One...made my night. As a lover of nerdom, invention, and Nolan, i was giddy at Oppenheimers day in the sun. And, as always, ive come away with a big list of flicks to watch soon.

    Peace .n. Lights Camera Action


  2. That was arguably the bes Oscar night in years, with the best movie selection in years. And Godzilla Minus One won best VFX. A movie with a tenth of the production budget of the other nominees. That's awesome!

    Also, it's the first time i wish the best animated feature would be won by another movie than Miyazaki's (i'm still bitter at Frozen winning over The Wind Rises). Spider-Verse was better in my opinion, but maybe it didn't win because it's only half a movie and the second part will win it all next year

    1. Yes, if this didn’t come across in the column, I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s show and the seventeen hours of red carpet coverage. Remember that “little nightclub show” a few years back? (Shudder) Even when my favorites did not win in every category… Well, it’s the Oscars.

  3. Mr. Bones, you recently mentioned that Hollywood, in its perpetual madness, once tried to make a TV series out of Casablanca. Actually, they tried twice, but only the second attempt in 1983 was a prequel series to the film; the first one, in '55, was a contemporary/Cold War remake, which of course makes little to no sense by definition.

    Anyhow, because the YouTube Machine is a magical contraption in which one can find excellent amateur documentaries/analyses concerning nearly anything, may I recommend this first-rate review of the '83 show.

  4. I just saw a meme pointing out the irony of Oppenheimer winning best picture while Godzilla Minus One wins best VFX

    1. woah...given the context of the metaphor that is Gojira/Godzilla, i cant believe i didnt connect those dots.

    2. Next year the franchises should merge with Oppenheimer II: Father of Gojira, which will feature a scene of Godzilla destroying Tokyo as he makes love to a fully nude Florence Pugh.