It’s Dionne’s World, We Just Live In It

By now almost all of the hype surrounding Chris Rock’s Oscars is over. But there is still one moment I cannot shake. It has nothing to do with perfect human Brie Larson, precious cargo Joe Biden or endless meme generator Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s the bizarre appearance of Stacey Dash. What was Dionne from Clueless doing at the Oscars?

In case you missed it (how could you?), watch the clip below.

Like Chrissy Teigen, you cringed. I cringed. We all cringed.

Coming at the end of Rock’s monologue, which was either legendary or divisive depending who you ask, Dash is introduced as the Academy’s new Director of Minority Outreach.  You can hear the crickets in the audience as Dash walks on stage and awkwardly proclaims, “I can’t wait to help my people out! Happy Black History Month!” It’s a kind of joke that seemingly bombed and served no purpose.

It may be one twisted symbiotic relationship but Dash’s appearance is kind of genius. It’s subversive and weird and politically in tune with the entire monologue.

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#OscarsSoWhite: How I Learned To Stop Caring And Hate The Oscars

The Academy Award nominations were announced today and for the second year in a row, the acting nominees were all-white. Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Will Smith in Concussion, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation were all snubbed. And so, like that Hollywood sequel you didn’t ask for, #OscarsSoWhite is back. I’m both disappointed and not surprised. I don’t think anyone is truly surprised. Discussions of race and gender in Hollywood, both on screen and behind the camera, are never-ending. But more importantly, the Oscars are rooted in industry politics and its more clear than ever that Hollywood cannot escape itself.

Expectations are now being placed on host Chris Rock to say something, anything about this year’s Oscar snubs. But before you go down that rabbit hole, keep this in mind:

As I process yet another year of being disappointed by not only the Academy Award nominations but also by Hollywood in general, I have accepted that I simply don’t care as much as I once did.

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The Problem With The Oscars

selmaThe 87th Academy Awards are in just a few hours. Boyhood will win Best Picture but that doesn’t matter.

As always, the Oscars telecast will be one of television’s great spectacles. Too much attention will given to what actresses are wearing, to how Jennifer Aniston will be breathing the same air as Brangelina, and to whether or not Neil Patrick Harris lives up to the absurd expectations we set for emcees. (No NPH, you can’t top Ellen’s selfie. Don’t even try.)

What we won’t discuss – at least not for any longer than we need to – is the incredibly flawed system (and Academy) that determines the so-called best movies, performances of a given year.

Every year the Oscars nominations incite people and this year that has anger resonated more than anyone could have predicted. The lack of recognition for Selma, its director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo is deeply wrong, damaging and glaringly political. Equally disheartening are the overwhelming number of nominations for white men for the movies they made about white men, their lives and their problems.

Welcome to Hollywood.

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5 Things About The 2014 Oscars

Jordan Catalano got an Oscar before Angela Chase. None of us saw that coming. Except maybe Rayenne.
Jordan Catalano got an Oscar before Angela Chase. None of us saw that coming. Except maybe Rayanne.

The 86th Annual Academy Awards have come and gone. While I might not have loved 2013 cinema, there is nothing I love more than the Oscars telecast. It’s a gloriously absurd evening and every year gives us something to talk about. Except not this year. It was just a solid, non-controversial show, which is something the Academy needed. Let’s get into five points of interest.

1. Ellen Degeneres Does It Again

ellen leo sandra oscars

Ellen Degeneres’ hosting style doesn’t satisfy everyone.  There was no musical number. No “Boobs” song. Just jokes. But after three year’s of duds, it was great to see a host skip a musical number, not sing about boobs and just have fun. The audience gag’s kept the show from getting too boring and that pizza gag gave us the greatest picture of Brad Pitt ever. Thank you, Ellen.

2. LUPITA IS EVERYTHING

lupita pharrell oscars

From her fashion choices to her articulate acceptance speeches, Lupita Nyong’o owned awards season. She even made that irritating Pharrell song bearable.The Oscars were her night and it was refreshing to see someone so overjoyed and gracious win.

3. Bill Murray’s Impromptu Tribute

Bill Murray is a national treasure. He cemented that with his tribute to Harold Ramis. It was perfect.

4. The Oscar Themes Need To Go

Why, why, why do the Academy Awards need a theme? It just doesn’t work. Look, I love a good montage (I really do) but all these montages do is reduce the greatest movies into snippets only film snobs appreciate. So either figure out how to execute a theme with some originality or don’t bother at all. It drags down an otherwise okay show.

I do like the idea of celebrating one great classic movie, like The Wizard of Oz, during the Oscars telecast. But when Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft become glorified seat fillers, that’s a waste. Here’s an idea: bring back the honorary Oscars, in some way, to primetime telecast. It is the single best way to celebrate classic Hollywood without boring everyone. Because when Stanley Donen tap dances, we all win.

5. Lupita Nyong’o’s brother deserves an Oscar

ellen selfie oscars

Remember when Jimmy Kimmel tried to make everyone tweet during the Emmys? Yeah, that didn’t work at all. Ellen Degeneres, however, made it work with this instant classic bit. And that guy who’s blocking Angie who you don’t recognize…. it’s Lupita Nyongo’s brother Peter. Well-done, sir. Well-done.

This is what I took away from the Oscars. What are your thoughts on the 86th Annual Academy Awards? Sound off below.

Going Home

steve martin governors awards

The Governors Awards were held this past weekend. Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin and costume designer Piero Tosi received honorary Oscars while Angelina Jolie received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

As I watched the speeches by this year’s honorees, which are all quite lovely in their own way, I was especially drawn to Steve Martin’s speech. It touches upon this essential  aspect of filmmaking: collaboration. What especially rings true is this notion of being home. As Steve Martin reflects, the film industry has provided a career, a life, friendships and a home for him. The film industry means so much to so many people, whether they work in the industry or not.

So why have I latched onto this speech? Well, it is no secret that I have been more out of love with cinema lately. It has been reflected in my mostly dormant blog. (Writing about film has become especially difficult.) Some days I feel as though I’ve forgotten why I fell in love with cinema in the first place. I’ve lost what was the driving force behind my passion. Occasionally I wonder if I ever knew the reason for that passion.

Watching this speech reminded me that yes, I did know the reason. Watching movies – the good, the bad, and the ugly – provided me with something I could care about. They gave me comfort, a sense of self and community. They became an outlet and way for me to express my interests.

I’m slowly getting back to that place of reconnecting with the art form I once fiercely loved.