A Word on the Oscars and the BAMs….

When I first began the BAM Awards as a rebellious fifteen-year-old I was reacting to the lack of consideration and inclusion of films I connected with in the awards without fully understanding the machinations of Awards Season and Hollywood in general. While there would be some way-off-the-beaten-path selections in my nominations over the years, there’d be some and some Academy-friendly films too. 

The BAM Awards have not changed much in that regard, pandemic not withstanding. However, the valley between the general public and the Academy grows larger every year. Part of this is attributable to the increased fragmentation of the moviegoing public. Despite all the blockbusters not many films are cultural touchstones anymore. Most modest studio films, arthouse films, and streaming service premiers fall by the wayside. The touchstones now are agreeable popcorn-films, some better than others, few and far between meet mass critical appeal—and so many fall within the oversaturated realm of the superhero film that any chance of the Academy including them in serious award categories is slim to none (and Slim is usually out riding an atomic bomb).

What the Academy, and the public at large are faced with, is an unsolvable conundrum, one that’s been inevitable since the Awards’ inception: the Oscars were created by the Academy as a marketing tool. That marketing pull is still there and their choices have aligned with the commercial/mass appeal on occasion, but far less so since the end of the Studio System. With the fall of the Studio System fragmentation began and the virtually unknown award darlings came to be.

More viewing options and films exacerbate that divide and have left the Academy flailing for ways to make the telecast more appealing and drive up the almighty ratings. One of those attempts has led to the further consternation of the public. The expansion of Best Picture to up to 10 films, was a fine idea in theory. It was that way for many years. One problem became that the expansion came with a changed voting system that allows divisive films to springboard into Best Picture because first-place votes weigh heavily. This allowed Don’t Look Up to be a Best Picture nominee this year despite it’s 53% Rotten Tomatoes and 49% Metacritic scores; as many people loving it as loathing it vaulted it into a nomination. The ranked Best Picture voting has also led to some wonderful surprised like Parasite getting nominated and winning, and Drive My Car this year. This is something that pleases film people more than the general public though.

For the general public the Academy decided to ditch hosts then bring them back, and not just one but three, which I’m sure won’t waste any time.

And what else, oh yeah, there will also be a live performance of a song that’s not even nominated! If we didn’t nominate “We don’t talk about Bruno,” how about we not sing his song?

The bit that got me the most furious that got me writing this and to conduct my own little counterprotest. The Oscars, after dumping lifetime achievement awards from the live broadcasts years ago, decided to present certain awards an hour early and splice in a soundbite in from the winner in the live (read “real”) broadcast. Among these categories is Best Editing, one of the most important things in film and an indicator of who will likely win Best Picture.

So, in that spirit when I post the BAM winners later today (tomorrow?) and, in the interest of time only the winner. If you happen to be curious about why certain decisions were made, I’ll respond with a soundbite. Enjoy!

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards


Once again I am live-blogging the Academy Awards because I can’t help myself and despite the fact that I haven’t seen as many nominated films as I would like.

Red Carpet

Tuned in at about 6:30, which is a bit later than when I was a teenager and earlier than I had been doing recently.

So, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig are together.

Because of Taika Waititi I will now use boomerang figuratively.

Billy Porter…that is all.

There may be some blind buys or rentals forthcoming for some of the films I have not yet been able to see.

Is Ryan Seacrest really a selling point for the red carpet show?

The above is something you probably didn’t see on the red carpet show.

How can Kelly Ripa mention fake tans and not mention this….?

True story: I read the nominations came out and knew who had a chance to be nominated, but I have no idea who is hosting.

That opening number by Janelle Monae was one of the best I’ve seen.

OK, the Steve Martin/Chris Rock opening explained my host confusion.

I was gonna venture a guess on political commentary in acceptance speeches. Considering Brad lead off with his disappointment in the lack of witnesses in the impeachment trial.

Missing Link is the first Laika film I didn’t see theatrically. I still have to see it.

There look like there are some really cool animation techniques in these shorts. I love going to see the nominee programs, but all the shorts should be available to stream. Look into them.

Josh Gad drops two political jokes and introduces the very cool polyglot “Into the Unknown” that I’ve been looking forward to.

Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton’s intro was perfect. The patter before screenplay awards has occasionally been about bad writing in award shows, this was the most tongue-in-cheek version.

Parasite is another one I missed out on.


What I wrote about the animated shorts applies here also.

Maya Rudolph and Kristin Wiig were insanely funny and that medley was legendary.

Charlton Heston makes this year’s broadcast as an NRA stooge in the Best Documentary montage. Tough break.

So feature length documentaries American Factory which won and Edge of Democracy (nominated) are both on Netflix, there may be more but I know those two are.

Now that Laura Dern won an Oscar (YES!) I may have to see Marriage Story tomorrow. Need to prioritize.

Are we really putting “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” on par with “Purple Rain” Oscars?

Now we’re adding to the runtime by having a performance of a previous winner?

Now ask Scorsese thinks of Eminem media, LOL.

Randy Newman coming on to perform invariably reminds me of the Family Guy gag about him.

Yes, this is exactly what we need a musical recap. Siiiiiiiiiggggh.

WOW. Julia Louis-Dreyfus looks amazing.

The Academy is making up for making Roger Deakins wait so long.

Ford vs. Ferrari wins Best Editing. Will it win Best Picture? It’s usually a strong indicator.

Leave it to Tom Hanks to toss in the Kirk Douglas reference.

OMG Cats.

Lots of audio dumps this year.

I wasn’t sure why Bombshell was even a contender until I saw who played Ailes in the win-montage.

With Parasite having so many other nominations who won Best International Feature Film was a foregone conclusion. I hope that in future years, following the furor caused by Nigeria’s disqualification that the antiquated rules that are a relic of Best Foreign Language Film days are scrapped.

True, Elton John doesn’t beed an introduction, but he still could have been afforded one. I know introducing the acts has been time-cutting maneuver but it seems weird.

Ancestral lands comment to open Taika’s intro is great. Cutting down the Governor’s Awards wasn’t so cool.

Female conducting live performances of the Best Original Scores. AN Academy first.

Bong-Joon Ho running away with the night.

Steven Spielberg always makes an appearance, this time for the In Memoriam.

With Best Actor there was finally BAM Awards agreement.

As has been the case in Awards Season, Joaquin Phoenix’s speech was pretty much all political.

And him quoting something his brother wrote made me cry. Oof.

“Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”

-River Phoenix

Should’ve seen Zellweger’s win coming. Didn’t.

Jane Fonda coming out to read Best Picture. Awesome.

It only took 92 Years, but a foreign film has won Best Picture. It’s about time. Amen.

Renée Zellweger was practically delivering a keynote address and suddenly you’re going to cut the mics on the Best Picture team Oscars?

31 Days of Oscar: Boomerang! (1947)

Boomerang! (1947)

It’s funny how similar in conclusion and resolution this is to the other Kazan film I saw (Panic in the Streets above). Another thing that struck me is that it handles a lot of similar elements much better than the later The Town That Dreaded Sundown.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 1/0
Score: 7/10

31 Days of Oscar: Victor Victoria (1982)

Victor Victoria (1982)

There are givens in this film: Julie Andrews is great, the intelligence of the dialogue that ensues regarding gender and sexuality is sparkling, the music is toe-tapping. The film is highly entertaining. I’m not sure if its part of the slapstick that the illusion of Victoria being Victor isn’t sold more say with more fitted clothes, shooting in black & white or any number of methods, but that does allow for some distraction in frequent buffering of your suspension of disbelief, wherein you have to convince yourself that most of the unseen masses in this fictional land buy the illusion. It’s a small thing that snowballs into a bigger one, but it’s still a good film that should be seen and discussed more than it is.

Score: 7/10
Oscar Nominations/Wins: 7/1

31 Days of Oscar: Scrooge (1970)

Scrooge (1970)

I, like many, have seen many a version of Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol it’s one of the Great Stories that we all become accustomed to and can analyze individual adaptations based on interpretation and choices more so than for the narrative itself. This version is a musical that is penned by the renowned Leslie Bricusse and for as closely as it sticks to the structure of the story for the most part offers as change of pace with songs, many of which were new. The songs are well-spaced allowing the drama to unfold adequately between numbers and also many are half-sung which lessens the theatricality of it. When watching 31 Days of Oscar I like to try and guess the nominations, if I don’t know them already and I guessed right on Art Direction and Song and was not surprised by the costuming being included. This is a very enjoyable rendition of the tale that ought not be overlooked.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 4/0
Score: 8/10

31 Days of Oscar: The V.I.P.s (1963)

The V.I.P.s (1963)

This is a film that is pretty intriguing while its players are all fogbound in the airport and their disparate stories are interesting but when the story extends to a second day and incorporates another locale it loses steam and fast. I can’t say I guessed that this was a supporting actress win for Margaret Rutherford but it makes the most sense, however silly her character and plot-line were.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 1/1
Score: 5/10

31 Days of Oscar: The Window (1949)

The Window (1949)

This film was not on Turner’s line-up this year. Instead I acquired it form the Warner Archive Collection. This film was out of print for sometime despite its brilliance and it being one of the rare films to win a young actor the Juvenile Award. Not only is it likely to be my favorite film of this month but it’s also one of the best films I’ve seen in quite some time. The set-up is simple: a boy who cries “wolf” once too often is witness to a murder and doubted at every plea for help and in danger because of it. If you didn’t know that this was based on a story by Cornell Woolrich you’d guess, it plays like a kids’ introduction to Rear Window and that’s not a wonder as the one of Hitch’s DPs (Ted Tetzlaff Notorious) directs here. Combine Woolrich brilliant story with a man who worked with the Master and you get something very close and a film so suspenseful you hope it’ll last. I’m not embarrassed to admit this film actually had me talking to the TV and shouting interjections at times that’s how into it I got. Yet all this is accomplished in a little over 70 minutes. It’s not a wonder this film also earned an editing nomination. Not a shot, not even a moment is wasted in this film. I’ve talked about this film more than most in this rundown and and I think you can see on and clearly I could go on. One could call many Academy decisions into question but Bobby Driscoll’s Juvenile Award is not one of them, not in the least. He is absolutely pitch perfect in this performance. It embodies all his abilities as a young performer yet all things are in service to the story it’s not a star vehicle per se.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 1/0* (One academy award win for Bobby Driscoll as this film is cited for his Juvenile Award win).
Score: 10/10

31 Days of Oscar: Jezebel (1938)

Jezebel (1938)

This is the first film of this year that landed with a resounding thud to me. To get too far into it would be too give to much away. Despite the fairly good narrative flow, likely the first great leading turn of Davis’ career and seeing a young Henry Fonda, anothr great Max Steiner score, I still didn’t like the movie much at all mostly due to the narrative and the handling thereof.

Score: 4/10
Oscar Nominations/Wins: 5/2

31 Days of Oscar: A Man Called Peter (1955)

A Man Called Peter (1955)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this film is the fact that it contains some really amazing sermons, which are even greater if cribbed from real life and more impressive. Now preaching is generally verboten in film, however, one exception is when your lead is a priest. Some of the thoughts conveyed are great and even applicable to current times, one reminds me of Stephen Colbert’s recent point about being a Christian country. It gets a little languid towards its inevitable conclusion but the cinematography is great as are some of the performances.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 1/0
Score: 6/10

31 Days of Oscar: To Catch a Thief (1955)

To Catch Thief (1955)

When I become familiar with a filmmaker part of my scoring indicates how the film fits on their scale. Hitchcock was the first director I started to watch religiously. I always avoided this film based on the description. It’s better than I thought it would be but still not what I’d recommend to anyone as where to start as a starting point. It is enjoyable though.

Oscar Nominations/Wins: 4/1
Score: 8/10