Wednesday, March 01, 2017

'Cause you asked for it...

Okay, here it is in print -- my Oscar review (for those who even remember all the way back to Sunday).  Thank you for responding and subscribing.   I've got some cool things planned for the podcast and other cool things planned for the blog.   Anyway, if you would still like to listen to the review just go here.  Thanks much.  Enjoy the snark. 
In a year of alternate facts, congratulations to LA LA LAND for winning the Best Picture Oscar. HOLY CRAP!! Maybe the greatest clusterfuck ending an Oscarcast will ever have. They’ll be talking about this one for years. Now I wonder if I really won that Emmy.

My question is, if Jordan Horowitz, that LA LA LAND producer didn’t so graciously announce that MOONLIGHT had won and they just got off the stage and the show ended, what would have happened?

Now you wonder if MANCHESTER BY THE SEA didn’t actually win. Or DEADPOOL.

Donald Trump has to be so pissed. People are not talking about HIM.

I fully expect him to tweet: “Congratulations to the Best Picture winner: TRIUMPH OF THE WILL.”

I’m still not certain what happened. From what I understand Price Waterhouse has two envelopes for every winner. So when they handed the envelope to Beatty & Dunaway that was for Emma Stone for Best Actress rather than the envelope for Best Picture. That’s why Beatty sputtered and was confused wondering what was going on. But Dunaway could have read the Emma Stone part too and just said this is the wrong envelope. I’m also confused at how Horowitz got hold of the correct envelope.

Beatty apparently was given the wrong envelope (by a now unemployed member of Price-Waterhouse). Of course, what was it doing there in the first place?

The fact that Warren Beatty looked lost, that didn’t surprise me at all. That’s the way he is at the Beverly Glen deli. And Faye Dunaway, who announced the wrong winner, well she has an excuse. She can just say it wasn’t her. Whoever that woman was on stage she was unrecognizable as Faye Dunaway. She could claim “that was Jeffrey Tambor” from TRANSPARENT.

Jimmy Kimmel was clearly pissed – signing off with “I’ll never do this again” when actually I thought he did a nice job. I would just say next time don’t take an Ambien before going on stage.

Getting back to the fuck up of all fuck ups – I’m sure the administration will blame it on illegal Academy voters.

And by the way, snafu aside that was quite an upset. LA LA LAND was considered a lock – although no one I know actually loved that film. Most, myself included, were completely underwhelmed. The stars can’t sing. That’s sort of important in a musical.

My friend Jon Weisman had a great tweet. He said LA LA LAND just became the Atlanta Falcons.

And I don’t think Faye Dunaway is going to be hosting THE MATCH GAME anytime soon.

You have to feel for those producers of LA LA LAND that had the rug pulled out from under them, but honestly, weren’t you sort of amused after all those lofty acceptance speeches “they said we were fools to dream,” “this was a brave and courageous journey”, etc. to have someone go, “Uh, sit down. You lost.”

Considering how pissed Steven Spielberg was when SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE beat out SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, if he were in this situation, Barry Jenkins would have had to wrestle him to ground to get the Oscar out of his cold dead hands.

How much do you think the bar bill was for the LA LA LAND after-party?

On the other hand, THIS is why we watch this tedious award show every year – because every so often you see something completely unexpected and jaw dropping and you know it’s live. That’s what makes for great television. And now, one of the few shared experiences we all have… other than mass protests.

Meanwhile, the Trump bashing was kept to a surprising minimum. Not that any of his supporters were watching anyway. I bet the only show that gets a lower rating in Alabama is the Chabad Telethon.

I did like Kimmel’s line that “the show was airing in more than 225 countries that now hate us.”

The Iranian Director who won for THE SALESMAN but didn’t come because he didn’t want to spend two weeks in a holding cell, prepared a stinging statement but unless they replay it on Fox News no one who matters will have heard it.

I bet there were more Trump jokes but when the mere mention of Ivanka got an audible groan, I suspect they wisely pushed them aside.

The Creative Community faced an agonizing dilemma this year – how can you acknowledge the dangerous state of our world and not let it spoil your good time? And remember, this IS Hollywood. When President Reagan was shot the morning of the Academy Awards the blazing headline in the next day's Variety was "OSCARCAST POSTPONED." Underneath, in much smaller letters, was "President of the United States shot". Gives you some perspective of this town.

The solution this year: Wear blue ribbons for the ACLU and hit the bar.

As for the show itself:

Well, first, let me back up. A moment or two about the red carpet shows.

How many of you miss Joan Rivers? I do. How many of you miss Melissa Rivers? Hands? Anybody? Hello. Did you ever notice that Gayle King is Oprah’s Melissa Rivers?

I guess KTLA, channel 5 in Los Angeles was not allowed to really interview many red carpet guests. They did a three hour show featuring their usual hosts, Sam Rubin the footstool to the stars and dashboard bobblehead Jessica Holmes. But mostly it was canned features and not live interviews. Which is too bad. They’re usually good for at least five staggeringly stupid questions. But picking up that mantle, God bless her, was Kristin Smith for ABC’s coverage. She asked Casey Affleck why so many films filmed in Boston. And to Emma Stone she said, “LA LA LAND is about dreamers. What advice do you have for dreamers?” Emma said, “Uh, that’s a big question.” But it’s just not the same without Sam gushing, “Every star in the galaxy is here” and Jessica Holmes mispronouncing everyone’s name including her own.

The show got off to a good start with Justin Timberlake doing his nominated number from TROLLS. Except the celebrities looked so awkward clapping and dancing. They’re not there to party. They’re there to win their goddman hardware, look better than everyone else, get shit-faced, take their $30,000 swag bag and go home to yell at the help. But you know they started the show with Timberlake “to get the kids.”

Jimmy’s monologue was breezy and mostly funny. Meryl Streep was a good sport. She’s the new Jack Nicholson. It’s as if every host now plays to her.

The set originally looked like URINETOWN. But then it changed every ten minutes. Gold clamshells, Mastro’s without the steaks, shimmering blue Oscars, a giant waffle iron. Apparently, at 11:30 in the morning some giant set piece crashed to the ground. No one was hurt although I’m sure the producer wished it landed on Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

Back in a minute, but first – I was glad that Randy Thomas was back as the announcer. Don’t you just imagine she’s announcing YOUR name?

(at this point I played a sound byte of Randy announcing that I had won as Oscar. See some of this stuff works better in audio form.)

I thought Mahershala Ali gave a very heartfelt acceptance speech. Many of the speeches were lovely. I didn’t appreciate when that one winner was rushed off the stage though as he was talking about his mother dying. And I loved the guy, I think he won for a music category, who thanked his mother for letting him get out of soccer to be in a musical.

The Best Documentary went to OJ, MADE IN AMERICA. I wonder if he thought the one about him was I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO.

Most of the women looked spectacular this year. Notably Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander (resplendent in her size zero Louis Vittan), Scarlett Johansson, and Naomi Harris.

My daughter Annie has a good rule. No movie over three hours should be eligible for Best Editing.

The first time they dropped candy from parachutes it was a cute bit. By the third time it was tedious. And it’s time to put to bed the Jimmy Kimmel – Matt Damon feud.

Janelle Monae came dressed as a TV test pattern.

And Michelle Williams came as Mia Farrow on her wedding night to Frank Sinatra.

The scariest moment of the night was when the celebrities had to actually confront real people. They did a bit where a tour bus group was ushered into the auditorium and the looks on some of the actors’ faces was priceless. Many looked panicked. Some of the stars were good sports. Denzel, who did not appear to be loaded this year, Ryan Gosling, and Mahershala Ali all had fun with it. Others sat there like they needed volunteers to take a hill.

The most uplifting moment was when Katherine Johnson, the real-life mathematician for NASA and the inspiration behind HIDDEN FIGURES was brought out on stage. That almost made up for the long-winded ponderous acceptance speech by Viola Davis. What was that all about? “Artists are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.” So, uh, if you’re not an artist you don’t count, or just exist? Not sure. Reminds me of when Jerry Lewis had a very brief talk show and would end it by saying, “The greatest thing I could wish for you is that you have show business people as your friends.” Viola started by saying that all stories come from dead people. Huh? And ended by turning into Norma Desmond. “And I want to thank the craft-services person.” Get off the stage!

How do I describe Leslie Mann’s dress? It’s like if you tried to gift-wrap a vacuum cleaner.

And how many times did they cut to a reaction shot from someone in the audience and you said, "Who's that?" More this year than ever.

The best make-up award went to SUICIDE SQUAD for dying actors’ hair different colors.

Michael Shannon is starting to look like Jaws from those James Bond movies.

Auli’i Cravalho did a beautiful job of singing that song from MOANA. Amazing poise for a 16 year old. And very beautiful. I imagine Faye Dunaway will be in her plastic surgeon’s office Monday morning saying, “this time give me that face.”

Shirley MacLaine had the best line of the night. She said “that was the greatest reception in 250,000 years.” All those past lives and she winds up Warren Beatty’s sister.

I loved the New York Times ad.

What happened to Halle Berry? She turned into Diana Ross.

Lots and lots of standing ovations this year. It was like a Jewish High Holiday Service. After awhile people just got tired of it and you could see them wrestling with “should I? It’s only the old lady from NASA. Nah. I’ll save it for when LA LA LAND wins Best Picture.”

Amy Adams is turning into Jessica Rabbit.

Okay, ZOOTOPIA was a good cartoon but did it “make the world a better place?” I don’t think so. That would be THE BATMAN LEGO MOVIE.

Did Nicole Kidman also have her arms done?

The IN MEMORIAM piece was very moving. Sara Bareilles singing Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” offered just the right blend of sadness and celebration. Don’t you always wonder who is going to get the pimp spot? Which death Hollywood considers to be the most significant? Well, in this case, it was nice to see that Carrie Fisher finally upstaged her mother.

Happy that Kenneth Lonergan and Barry Jenkins won the two screenplay Oscars. Leave it to writers to give eloquent BRIEF speeches without claiming that only artists can give meaning to life.

The Academy went overboard on diversity this year, and even then Will Smith can’t get a nomination.

Fox Searchlight spent $17.5 million to acquire Nate Parker’s BIRTH OF A NATION figuring it was Oscar gold for sure this year. Too bad they didn’t spend $5 and check his rap sheet.

Emma Stone looked elegant in her Roaring 20’s flapper gown. Congratulations on winning an Oscar for starring in a musical when you can’t sing or dance.

Lin-Manuel Miranda didn’t get his EGOT. But he will. Maybe he did. Who gave it out?

Salma Hayek always looks gorgeous so she’s always a presenter and she can never pronounce anything. She had trouble with “The White Helmet.”

Sofia Boutella’s hair off to one side was interesting. Very Picasso.

Yeah, the Academy says it celebrates diversity but how come not one alien from ARRIVAL was nominated?

So Mel Gibson has been welcomed back by Hollywood. I guess anti-Semite is now a diversity group.

This year’s Oscars will long be remembered. What a colossal blunder. John Travolta is now off the hook. Rob Lowe and Snow White are now off the hook. I’d hate to be Faye Dunaway’s personal assistant. Next year expect the ballots to tabulated by the accounting firm of Goldberg and Fishman on Ventura Blvd. in Reseda. And if this year the theme was diversity, next year it will be “We don’t give a shit who wins as long as we get it right.” On to the Emmys.


Jenny said...

Thanks Ken.

Ok I promise this is last time I will ask - Ken and all readers - What did Vince Vaughn say? Compared Jimmy Kimmel to some bearded person and called Jimmy slanderous or something.

Thank you all in advance.

Stephen Marks said...

Jesus Ken, now you're doing twice the work at half the price. Here's a quote from a blog I stumbled upon earlier this week that may apply, guy's name is Abe or something, he mostly blogs about chicks:

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.”

Grombach said...

Unrelated to the Oscars, I wasn't sure if you had seen the news that Dave Rosenfield had passed away yesterday. I had the pleasure of working for him with the Tides for a few years.

Wally said...

John August and Craig Mazin provide a transcript with every podcast. A bit delayed, but it goes up in the same post on It was, if I remember right, in response to fans who are hard of hearing.

Tore W. said...

«No movie over three hours should be eligible for Best Editing.»

I laughed and agreed at first. Then I thought of Oliver Stone's «JFK», my all-time favourite movie. 3 hours and 26 minutes of editing magic!

Thanks for the review. Funny as always, Ken.

gottacook said...

Not to take anything away from the editors of JFK, but the other 1991 movies that were nominated for Best Film Editing were all worthy too: The Commitments, The Silence of the Lambs, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Thelma & Louise. Any of them might have won in a different year.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Unfortunately, most movies are too long.
That's why I doubly appreciate films like Deadpool, Get Out and Moonlight.
Under 2 hours.
most likely because they were running out of money.

Terrence Moss said...

I bristle at criticism of Viola Davis.

I hope "going overboard on diversity" is not about the nominations and wins.

I believe the second drop was cookies.

Lastly, the Kimmel/Damon feud is still hilarious. And never moreso than at the Oscars.

DARON72 said...

There has been a lot of controversy over Casey Affleck winning Best Actor after it was learned that he settled a sexual harassment case out of court. If everyone who had made some sort of poor life choice was forced to give back their Oscar, Linda Hunt may well be the last 'man' standing.

Mike Schryver said...

Thanks for letting me read this piece, Ken. I enjoyed it a lot.

Ben Kubelsky said...

Annie's rule is spot-on! A new rule they seem to have come up with this year, after giving an Oscar to Casey Affleck, is "we don't mind if you sexually assault women, just make sure they're awake for it."

Eddie Saul said...

For Jenny: Vince Vaughn compared Kimmel to "a bearded Sal Mineo."

I love the jokes, thanks for posting it so we can read it. (BTW, Ventura Blvd doesn't pass through Reseda.)

Eddie Saul said...

For Jenny: Vince Vaughn compared Kimmel to "a bearded Sal Mineo."

Loved the jokes. Thanks for posting so we can read them. (BTW, Ventura Blvd doesn't pass through Reseda.)

Peter said...

Viola Davis is still giving her acceptance speech. It's just they had to eventually end the telecast.

Jenny said...

Thank you very much Eddie Saul.

I looked up Sal Mineo on net, he was an actor as per wiki; but I still didn't get the potshot/jibe.

I thought Vince said something nasty about Jimmy because he ridiculed Vince for acting in a Mel Gibson movie. So I thought some nasty reference must have been made.

In the second line Vince said you are slandering someone .....

kent said...

The aliens from ARRIVAL were nominated, in the Best Special Effects category.

kent said...

Tore W., if the highly fictionalized JFK is your favorite movie, you must not be old enough to remember that horrible day. If you were you might well take exception to Stone's lack of regard for the truth. I.e. the Donald Sutherland character who is the key to Stone's case but entirely fictional.

YEKIMI said...

Hopefully, you didn't have to go back and listen to the podcast, stop, type out a few lines and then repeat till you were done. I started googling and did find some speech-to-text software but didn't look much further than that. Guess I'll wait till my hearing's almost gone before investing in that. But thanks for doing this.

I recently had to take a damn online food safety course ordered by the State Health Department [840+ pages] and it took me almost a month to do it because the company had some drone reading the text and you could not advance to the next page till he was done reading. I could have been done in two days if they had allowed me to read it on my own. Absolutely maddening. I thought I was in the first grade again and listening to the teacher read Dick & Jane books at half-speed. That always drove me nuts because I have been able to read since I was four years old [obviously not novels like War & Peace]...before I had even started school.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Editing doesn't mean shortening. All movies have editors, even four-hour ones. Editing is about telling a story through pacing, juxtaposing pieces of film that were sometimes shot weeks apart. Good editing does not call attention to itself, which makes the award a bit problematic. But the audience certainly notices bad editing.

Ken, I had forgotten your Ambien joke. Jimmy Kimmel always looks like he forgot his glasses and is peering at the teleprompter.

MikeN said...

I think the Casey Affleck issue was over the day the Oscars gave a standing ovation to Roman Polanski.

Cap'n Bob said...

Sal Mineo was in Rebel Without a Cause and played youth roles most of his career. He was stabbed to death and the case was never solved. Some think it had to do with his gay life style.

Norm said...

Yes, there are TWO briefcases with a full set of envelopes!

The two reps from PWC come to the theatre via police escort in TWO separate cars.

They position each one on either side of the stage to accommodate the presenter and whatever side the producer assigns to them.

Obviously, the rep on the OTHER side didn't discard Emma's envelope (she had the other one).

ON KTLA, someone explained the Academy went IN-HOUSE to produce the envelopes and show the glaring differences between how they are labeled on the outside. I'm sure next year they will put all sorts of new procedures in place to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, Ken. Didn't think it would make a difference but I found from myself laughing a lot more when I could read and re-read what you were saying. Reading with your voice and delivery in mind added to my enjoyment of the humor.

As for Searchlight acquiring BIRTH OF A NATION, I believe the thinking might have been, "Casey Affleck's rap sheet ain't hurting him, so we got nothing to worry about." The error was in not considering the "diversity" factor with Nate.(Orleanas)

As for

Tom Galloway said...

Worth noting that the person pushing Katherine Johnson's wheelchair was NASA astronaut Dr. Col. Yvonne Cagle.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

Sal Mineo was a closet homosexual. Watch the film Rebel Without a Cause, as a reference.

Tore W. said...


«JFK» is my favourite movie because it is brilliantly made, not because it’s necessarily 100 percent true. I have no political or any other agenda for loving that film.

I do not remember that gruesome day in 1963 because it happened almost 17 years before I was born, but I honestly don’t see why my age matters; should I not be a Beatles fan as well because I was born 10 years after they broke up?

I am fully aware of the fact that Oliver Stone took a lot of liberties making the film (Mr. X, who is based on real-life-person and Stone source L. Fletcher Prousty, is just the tip of a small iceberg), but I really don’t care. «JFK» is my personal favourite movie because it tells a great story, has an amazing cast and keeps me at the edge of my seat throughout.

MikeN said...

Would have been nice if Faye had said, "The Oscar goes to - Warren did you see this movie? I didn't like it. Let's see if I can get another opinion if we really want this.

Johnny Walker said...

Fictional or not (and it is fictional), JFK is an amazingly well made film. If you're not pumping with self righteous anger at the injustice of it all by the end, you must know how full of crap it is. The recent Netflix documentary MAKING A MURDERER pulled a similar feat (less fiction, more omission), but took 10 hours to do it!

Anonymous said...

JFK is extremely skillful propaganda.Stone at his best.
Not only does he make a hero out of a guy who was most definitely not a hero, he puts in enough inaccuracies and half-truths to obscure the facts of the crime. For a political motive- he would rather the crime be committed by a cabal of Right Wing crazies rather than by a Marxist fanatic. Despite some pretty overwhelming evidence to that effect.

Brian O. said...

You had me at, "Sam Rubin the footstool to the stars and dashboard bobblehead Jessica Holmes."

What a great title for a show.

Your review outdoes any $30k swag bag.

Arthur Mee said...

>>>I bristle at criticism of Viola Davis.

She's a great actor, but just like anyone else, Viola Davis is not above criticism. Her statement equates artists with somehow being the *only* people who are noble of purpose, which is both insulting and ridiculous. I lost some respect for her with that speech.

>>>I hope "going overboard on diversity" is not about the nominations and wins.

Agree with you there. Not sure what Ken meant by this, but it sounds ... uh ... pretty privileged.

Ralph C. said...

Ken, I'm enjoying the podcasts. I think your voice sounds at least a little like Jack Paar.

CarolMR said...

Cap'n Bob, Sal Mineo's murder was definitely solved. A pizza deliveryman named Lionel Ray Williams was convicted of stabbing Mineo as Mineo was arriving home from a rehearsal. Williams was also convicted of committing ten robberies in the same LA area.

Anonymous said...

I looked all over the internet to see if I could find anyone who didn't like Viola Davis' speech. Everyone loved it---NYT, Washington Post, Vanity Fair and many more. I could find none who criticized it, EXCEPT our esteemed blog host and many of his commenters. It would appear that the cynicism in this neighborhood is a little over the top. Admittedly, her statement about artists was a little difficult to interpret, but I took it to mean artists are the only ones who have the privilege of portraying what it is to "live a life"---meaning the lives of ordinary people whose stories of quiet heroism are rarely told (like her character in FENCES).
I love the Oscars, and I wish all of you snarky writers and actors could win one some day. I suspect all your cynicism would melt away, at least for the night, and you would be thinking what Sally Field unfortunately said out loud when she won.

Michael said...

To anonymous: Our esteemed host Ken did not go over the top with Viola's criticism. She deserved the award but like other stars was too much of herself. Many in the comments section have agreed with our Host.

Read Chicago Sun times Richard Roeper, the Atlantic and go to Youtube and see the comments where common people have ripped apart the speech.

Ken and others criticizes the speech they are is snarky? Those YouTube commentators will be called trolls?

Only you and pompous jerks from some media houses are right?

P.S.: Have the guts to leave your name from now on, you coward.

-bee said...

I usually never would have watched the Oscars 'after-show', but I did tune in this time because the final moments were so baffling.

I was expecting it all to be the usual 'fluff' - but I must say, Anthony Anderson was surprisingly hilarious and the show wasn't trying to smooth over the messiness of what happened.

Anonymous said...

Good heavens, Michael!
In the first place, Ken has always referred to his Oscar review as "snarky" himself. It is his good natured intention, and since it is always brilliant, witty, and hilarious, everyone (including me) enjoys it. Because I found her speech moving, and because I can imagine what it must still mean to Black Americans to receive this kind of recognition, I thought I would post a comment with my opinion---I am a long time reader and commenter on this blog. I fail to see how my comment could have been considered offensive, and my desire to see writers (especially the amazing Ken LeVine and others who comment here) win an Oscar was sincere. I admire Ken so much not only for his talent and brilliance, but his ability to do so many different things in one lifetime---most recently adding a Podcast to his list, but I also admire other writers who comment here, and wish them well.
Regarding the use of Anonymous, I have always used my name, but a change in format has made it impossible to do that. So I have used Anonymous then signed my name at the end. I simply forgot yesterday. I am Diane D.
When I have inadvertently offended someone on this blog I have always apologized, and I do so now to you. I have only known one other person to do that. John Gault gave a very eloquent apology once when he had done nothing wrong. I don't expect you to apologize for your very mean response to my comment, but that's ok. I neither want nor need it. I do apologize to Ken for inadvertently provoking the kind of attack he has always indicated he dislikes.

cadavra said...

Re JFK: Stone said his intention was to throw all the theories on the screen and let the viewer decide which was the most plausible; he never said it was the "only, actual" version. Since we'll never know the truth, it seems like a worthy concept.

If you want to see an excellent what-if? with only one scenario, track down EXECUTIVE ACTION.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I quit reading Richard Roeper when it became obvious to me several times that he had not even seen the movie he was reviewing.

Mike Barer said...

I'm thinking that Meryl Streep lost to avoid another controversy. I read online that TV game show hosts tend to be Republican. Why not have an award show for gameshow hosts? They can praise Trump denounce Obama and drive us left of center folk crazy!