I’ve grown up with the excitement of anticipating the Academy Awards broadcast pumping through my veins. I don’t recall the last time I missed a second of the ceremony in its entirety. Surely it must date back to before I was a teenager, so let’s just say 1995 and act like it’s a precisely accurate statement. My parents divorced that year, and it wouldn’t be much later that I decided to let cinema and music take the driver’s seat in my life when it came to acting as parental authorities/influencers. I was interested in everything movies, so it was only natural that the Oscars were like the pinnacle celebration of the artform. My first real immersion in the extravaganza was in 1996, and I was hooked from there. Of course, in the twenty years since, my perception has drastically changed. Where I once saw the awards as the gold standard that defined the quality of movies as a whole, now I merely take part simply to keep the tradition alive….and to gather friends, consume libations, and partake in a healthy dose of “guess the winners” battles. We are all aware that Oscar rarely gets recognition right, and the show itself is mostly a mind-numbing bore at this point, but the social circle that forms around its unveiling each year is never a disappointment at the Ferguson abode.
The show must go on? Yes, it must, and so I held my sixth annual Oscars Shindig (in the sixth straight different venue) last Sunday evening during the broadcast. I kept things pretty minimal this time around, inviting only a handful of friends because I am still getting acclimated to my new apartment. Oh yeah, and also my cat Bo gave me that look like he’d prefer things to be a little more quaint this year, considering that in prior parties there were so many people that literally all his prime perching spots remained occupied for hours on end. I supported his wishes, and there were maybe a total of 7 people in attendance for the broadcast. Most of us knew going in that it was almost certainly going to be an incredibly boring and upset-free set of winners this year, which would make for a tension-less tournament of picks. So the majority of the attention turned to perusing my refrigerator, which can usually be seen filled to the brim with a wide array of craft beers, especially for events such as this. Personal favorites such as 18th Street Brewery’s Jade APA, and Fat Head’s Hop JuJu Imperial IPA were passed around so joyously by myself that you could mistake me for The Wolf Of Wall Street going totes apeshit with those hundos on that yacht. These, along with dozens of other fantastic brews, would help us tolerate the ever escalating mind-numbing qualities of the modern-day Oscars telecast.
We knew that films like Mistress America and The End of the Tour were better than roughly 100% of the nominated films, so we not only resorted to dancing to Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo along the way instead of paying close attention, but I also made a point to prominently feature the live web stream of Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington’s “On Cinema At The Cinema” Oscars Special, which was their 4th annual this year. It’s an absolutely perfect retreat from the wooden and superficial vibe that most of the Oscars gives off, with Tim & Gregg playing wonderfully styilized versions of themselves that they have been quietly perfecting since 2013 when On Cinema At The Cinema debuted on Adult Swim’s web channel. Tim is the show’s self-proclaimed creator and “only” host, while Gregg is consistently labeled the “guest”, although he is on virtually every single addition of the show’s now 7 season, 70+ episode run. Tim is focused on the everyday surroundings of his personal life, while Gregg is dedicated to being an expert of all things cinema, constantly vying to keep the focus of the show on the movies. This, without a doubt, makes for an amazing live Oscars webcast, that this year was hashtagged #oscarfever, among a couple other labels. Needless to say, rotating back and forth between the actual Oscars and the On Cinema special offered up a more entertaining evening, complemented by the welcomed inebriation.
The show itself, apart from the painfully predictable winners (save a couple categories) was more tolerable than expected at times, due to the smooth handling by host Chris Rock, who is a longtime veteran of easily orchestrating a large stage moment almost effortlessly. Or maybe I am giving more credit than what is due because I was hysterically pleased by Heidecker’s rousing rendition of his song “Oscar Fever”, this time performed by his prog rock band named Dekkar. Seeing the comic in full-on beard mode with modestly gauged ears and scarved ever ridiculously, is a revelation. Gregg is furious because attention is off the movies for a little while, and more specifically off James Bond or Bilbo Baggins. It’s amazing what they are accomplishing on a comedic level with these characters/this show, at least in my opinion. Film in general has in the last few years taken a back seat to original television programming, unfortunately, and On Cinema At The Cinema mocks that aspect ever so brilliantly.
Meanwhile, inside the social circles in the Ferguson apartment, the banter was flinging and the texts were floating, while the attention toward the Oscars was drifting in and out. Three of us were virtually neck-and-neck on our picks as it went along, but we barely cared. Everyone was mostly waiting on that moment where we owed it to Leonardo DiCaprio to pay attention to his inevitable acceptance speech, but otherwise we couldn’t give a damn about the uneventful developments. I had Spotlight picked for Best Picture, which no one knew at the time would be my final bullet in the magazine that would catapult me to a tie for a share of the top spot. No, all that would be focused on the rest of the way was one person’s blackout drunk status that resulted in accidentally “marking their territory” on one of my newly purchased antique chairs. There was also the absolutely absurd and hilarious interaction between two in-and-out “old flames”, texting to each other for hours as they were no more than ten feet away from each other at any given moment. Nothing was verbal, not in front of people, at least. To top things off, we may have been a little too loud for the crazy dude downstairs, so he decided to let us know by blasting “Get Got” by Death Grips on full blast on his portable wireless speaker right outside my door.
Guys, listen: more of you should have picked something other than The Revenant for the top prize, if nothing more than to simply go by the trend of Oscars history. No film that has not been nominated for screenplay has ever won Best Picture, so it was clear that Innaritu’s film was not going to take it home. It’s hilarious that it is that telegraphed, but then again, that doesn’t really matter either. What I’ll take away from this Oscars Sunday is that I enjoyed my all-time favorite beer, Hop JuJu, with a group of friends in a hilariously weird night, all the while sporting a vintage Miami Vice tee shirt. I’m giving the 6th Annual Oscars Shindig six bags of popcorn and two sodas, with an adult diaper added on in case a full grown person happens to urinate all over your furniture, too.