I heart the Oscars. Even with all the weirdness
Raquel Welch once played a nun (“Bluebeard”) and Steve Carell almost lost a nipple during a chest waxing (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”). In the ’70s, seamstresses had to sew Olivia Newton-John’s skinny legs into her even skinnier britches (“Grease”).
Oh, the lengths they go to entertain us.
Actors put on weight, they shed weight, they exfoliate their tongues (mere conjecture, but I stand by it).
Performers fall in love willy-nilly, with each other, their nannies, their plastic surgeons, sometimes ordinary folks like you or me, though rarely, and only if they’ve exhausted all other dysfunctional options.
“Love me!” the pretty people cry. And so we do.
Stars live in shiny soap bubbles, surrounded by throw pillows stuffed with adulation, all the while robbed of their privacy, their ability to roam, always complaining about this loss of freedom as if it came as a great big surprise.
“Whoa! Paparazzi? I never knew there’d be cameras ….”
Oy, the humanity.
Point is, there’s a lot of weirdness in Hollywood … always has been. In Hollywood, weirdness is like spent fuel rods ditched in the desert — it lives forever.
No Oscar season will ever be weirder than this one. It comes after a year in which they locked down the theaters and studios pulled top contenders. We are relegated to watching mostly little-known indies — streaming or in drive-ins.
Mentioned now for awards are titles such as “First Cow” and “Da 5 Bloods.” Ever heard of them? Me neither. But I hear the cow is brilliant.
“What am I to you, huh? Chopped liv-aaa?” the cow says at one point, reminiscent of Brando in the way he sucks his own tongue.
I have odd notions about Hollywood. I think dogs are among our best actors.
I don’t think actresses peak until 70 or 80, physically and artistically. Exhibit A: Judi Dench. Exhibit B: Jennifer Aniston (only 51, so she has yet to reach full flower. But can you imagine?).
I also believe Oscar trophies should be made of dark chocolate, with a bourbon-cream filling.
“Here, eat my Oscar,” the winner would tell friends at the after-parties.
“I have an audition in the morning.”
“Then just snap off a leg.”
Purists might call this makeover an outrage. In this town, an Oscar statue is a pagan crucifix and way tougher to find at pawn shops (where I do most of my shopping).
Among my other odd notions is that comedies are far more beloved — and have more lasting power — than dramas.
Long after “First Cow” is merely a footnote in movie history, the nation will still be cuddling up to classic comedies such as “Elf” or “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”
What’s that little kernel of heart and happiness that sets them apart? Better yet, how do you generate it?
No one knows anything, as they like to say. Memorable movie moments are our love potions, produced by funny wizards. Preston Sturges and George S. Kaufman gave way to Mel Brooks and Harold Ramis, who gave way to whom?
Wait for it … wait for it ….
Still waiting. Next up? Likely, one of these clever little TikTokers. Might be your 12-year-old niece. Or the punk who just dropped off your pizza.
Look, obviously I don’t understand anything about movies. But I love them like nothing else. The ones I adore are like ornaments of the mind. They are keepsakes and eternal reference points. They are the gin in my martini.
When life gets tricky, I just think of Jeff Bridges on the bluff with John Goodman or Diane Keaton’s onscreen romances.
“Love is too weak a word for what I feel — I luuurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you, two F’s, yes.”
And I’m totally sure of this: The Oscars have never been a celebration of a single year. They are a tribute to Hollywood’s body of work — to all the heroes, the misfits … that smoky first kiss with Mrs. Robinson … napalm in the morning … and very Dark Knights.
Once a year, we gather for the Oscars, a ceremony we mock and grumble over yet we anticipate like nothing else. Cue the kettledrum. Add violins. Because even this year, the Oscars will be a holiday celebrating the real Oz, the most creative, vibrant and screwy little town in all the world.
Vancouver? No, still L.A.
For all its weirdness. For all its brio.
For all the movies we luff.
Chris Erskine posts twice weekly on life in Los Angeles at ChrisErskineLA.com
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