Out Of It On Everything

I didn’t watch the Oscars, and haven’t for years, but I saw the news stories that the film Everything Everywhere All At Once won the award for best picture, as well as a bunch of other honors. Coincidentally, that happened to be one of the few films we saw at a theater last year.

The AP story on the Academy Awards describes Everything Everywhere as a “metaphysical multiverse comedy,” but I would describe it, instead, as a surreal, confusing, and in large part disturbing movie that I have no desire to see again. Although the movie claims to be a comedy, I don’t think I laughed at any point during the film’s two-hour-and-19-minute running time, and mostly wished it would finally, blessedly end before another strange character and incident was inflicted on my senses. The movie was creative, I’ll give it that, and at least it was an original screenplay and not a superhero movie or one of the remakes that Hollywood routinely churns out these days, but those points exhaust the positives in my book.

The Academy Award decisions are always debatable, but for years, I’ve wondered what criteria are used in deciding who wins what at the Oscars. It’s stumped me at least since a boring snoozer like Out Of Africa beat Witness, a taut, engrossing drama with some great comedic moments, in 1986. Witness has stood the test of time, Out of Africa hasn’t. But at least I could somewhat understand how, in some views at least, the cinematography and settings and sweep of Out Of Africa put it in contention. I’m flummoxed at how Everything Everywhere All At Once was even considered a contender on any grounds.

This is further evidence, if any is needed, at just how out of touch my tastes have become. It’s also a reason why our trips to the movie theater have winnowed down to virtually none.

Picking The Real Best Picture

Tomorrow night is the Oscars.  I won’t be watching, but I know one thing:  they’ll screw up the selection of best picture because . . .  well, because they always screw it up!  Year after year, movies that appeal to the general population — movies that move us, inspire us, challenge us, and make us feel good as we’re walking out of the theater — get passed over for some hoity-toity, highbrow “serious” movie.  It’s ridiculous.

witness-harrison-ford-kelly-mcgillisThe movie that encapsulates this phenomenon, for me, was Out of Africa.  It was a slow, dreary, unwatchable piece of crap.  It was a “chick flick” of sorts, but one so ponderous that even women who want to revel in the arched eyebrow/heavy sigh/”the intense drama of real human relationships” school of cinema would find it an absolute snoozefest.  Yet somehow this leaden dud won the Best Picture Oscar, beating out the likes of Witness — a great and touching movie about an injured cop who finds sanctuary among the Amish in Pennsylvania.  As yourself now:  if you turned on the TV and had this choice, which movie would you rather watch:  Out of Africa, or Witness?  Does anyone seriously doubt that everybody except members of the Meryl Streep Fan Club would choose Witness?  For that matter, would any network even broadcast Out of Africa?  It’s probably the least requested Netflix movie in history.

The Washington Post has done a commendable public service by going back through the last 40 years of Best Picture Oscar blunders and telling us the real best picture of the year.  I disagree with some of their choices — I still say Star Wars and E.T. were obvious choices for Best Picture Oscars — but it’s a useful exercise nevertheless.  With rare exception, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences always gets it wrong.  The people who don’t win the Best Picture Oscar tomorrow night probably should be happy.