January and February are typically Hollywood’s dumping ground months. This is the time when studios just want you to see the Oscar leftovers that they released the last week of December. This is the time of Uwe Boll and Kevin Hart to reign. But once awards season ends, there is something refreshing about watching a movie in which nobody dies from a terminal illness. I don’t care what the groundhog said; with Kingsman: The Secret Service, summer has come early.
Last night marked the end of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, which ran for seven great seasons. Sure, it never got high ratings, but it did bring the phrase “Treat Yourself” into the lexicon. Let’s see Two and a Half Men invent something that gives you an excuse to go shopping for toys.
Parks and Rec was good for more than just a laugh (although, it delivered plenty of those), it marks the end of an era for network sitcoms as NBC tries to wade in the murky waters of the current TV landscape of streaming and cable. There was something about Parks and Rec that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside each time the opening credits rolled.
But there is something else that sets it apart from all other sitcoms. All of you literary snobs out there might be familiar with the Great American Novel, which is the idea that one book possibly encapsulates the culture and values of the United States. Some think its The Great Gatsby. Others say its The Catcher in the Rye. I say its whatever you were forced to read in English class during sophomore year of high school. Anyway, the idea of America seems to hard to capture in just one thing, but if there ever was a Great American Sitcom, it would be Parks and Recreation.
“Take the Oscar decorations down from the tree,” Joe said to his son Timmy, “also, why are you decorating our lawn for an awards show?”
And now that the Oscars are over, we must face the reality of February and the six more weeks of winter that moron groundhog gave us. Look, I know that in the grand scheme of things, the Oscars are pointless. But you know what else is? The Super Bowl. Yet, nobody is ever criticized for caring too much about the score of the game. The Oscars give us something to laugh at, something to yell at, but most importantly, it gives us something to bond with other people over.
Last night’s ceremony was one of the worst in recent memory. It was bloated and overlong. Yet, I can’t argue with some of the winners, and that “some” is more than most years. However, I would love to teach voters what “screenplay” and “writing” mean. Anyway, a lot of people are angry that Boyhood didn’t win Best Picture, and rightfully so. However, just keep in mind that winning an Oscar is sometimes the worst thing for a film’s legacy. But hey, in terms of films it could have lost to, Birdman isn’t half bad.
Every show will include just as many highlights as outrages. So here are the things I liked, the things I didn’t like, and the things I’m not sure about from last night’s ceremony:
Nothing improves an American past time quiet like alcohol. Since tonight’s Oscars could go on for over four hours, drinking would definitely help make the show go by faster. Given the predictable nature of awards shows and Hollywood celebrities in general, a fun drinking game isn’t hard to come up with. Enough so that basically every blog and publication has their own version.
Here is The Reel Deal’s official drinking game for the 2015 Academy Awards. In order to win The Reel Deal Oscars 2015 Drinking Game, you must drink every time:
From time to time, I remember Patton Oswalt’s bit about the Star Wars prequels in which he proclaims that he doesn’t care where the stuff he loves comes from, he just loves what he loves. That is how I am starting to feel about most biopics. Or, at least the ones that answers questions that nobody asked.
Stephen Hawking is a figure as fascinating as his findings and a general anomaly of mankind. After all, he was supposed to die two years after being diagnosed with ALS, yet he has lived another 50. So surely, one would think that making a biopic about him would be almost too easy, right? Guys? Guys?
If cinema is a religion, then the Oscars are its biggest holiday.
I mean this in the same way that sports are also like a religion, and the Super Bowl is its Christmas. If sports are the biggest religion, then cinema is a much smaller one, and one that you might have to be crazy to follow. Fittingly, movies are like Scientology. And it is ironic that the ceremony focuses on bowing down to a golden idol, given that the main participators are typically Jewish and idol worship is a no-no if you’re up to date with your Torah studies.
Anyway, the Oscars do what any good holiday should do: distract us from the cold, dark world that surrounds us. Without the Oscars and all of the other precursors leading up to it, all we would have is Seventh Son and The Duff.
This year’s race is wildly unpredictable, which rarely happens. This year’s supposed frontrunner, an underdog itself, has suddenly found itself eating the dust of a film that nobody knew was even in contention for underdog status. However, I love both the films in question and the only way to really judge them is time. But like I said, we all must distract ourselves from the darkness of reality with shiny statues.
My predictions are not based on exact science. They are a mix of precedent (patterns and guild award winners) and completely random speculation. I am not an Oscar voter, because I am under the age of 75. Therefore, I have no inside knowledge. Here is who I think will win at the Oscars this year:
If you are as cynical as I can be, then a film that drops around awards season about a disease should draw nothing but skepticism. Yes, Still Alice is about an ailment and yes, it is mainly a vehicle for a performance. However, it is a really good performance in a film that handles delicate subject matter very tastefully.
Still Alice stitches together a narrative based on both forgetting and remembrance. Julianne Moore is our Alice. Alice is a widely respected professor at Columbia whose life takes a tragic turn when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. We follow Alice as her memory and well being slip further and further away from her.
Don’t worry everybody: we are just a few think pieces away from the end of awards season! That means that soon you will have to face the cold, bitter reality that there are some terrible movies actually in theaters right now and also the polar ice caps are melting.
Let’s pretend, for just a brief moment, that I am now and always will be an Oscar voter. The world would be a much better place. Goodfellas would have won Best Picture. Anne Hathaway would never have been in Bride Wars. Monkeys would wear ties to work. Let that soak in. Without much further adieu, here is who I think should win in this year’s top categories:
Let me get this out of the way before I formally start this review: I do not know New York City better than people who actually live in New York (I can take a train directly into Grand Central from my local stop; that’s where my credentials end), but I at least understand it better than people who have only seen the inside of the Bubba Gump in Times Square.
So once upon a time, New York City was an awful crime-ridden hellhole. This is what you will hear today anytime you enter a trendy Williamsburg restaurant. Mid-bite of a $30 sandwich, some old guy will begin to rant about how horrible the neighborhood once was, and also how much better the city was when The Ramones were around. Nostalgia is a complicated force with many faces.