When I was growing up, my family treated the Academy Awards like a national holiday. Not quite Christmas, but a touchdown ahead of Super Bowl Sunday. Yep, that big! We’re talking Oscar-Eve excitement on the level of “can we open one present on Christmas Eve….pleeeeease???”
Back in those days, the whole Oscar season felt different too. Less business, more show. You still had all the pre-show pomp and circumstance, but there was far less public campaigning and Weinstein-ing. There were no Vegas odds or Entertainment Weekly prognostications. And you couldn’t care less about Oscar’s ugly little sister’s Golden Globes because they were on cable. The only hype I recall was self-induced. More like panic, it was the startling realization that you’d never see all the nominated movies in time for Oscar night. But I’d catch most of them, pick my favorites, and then tune in/doze off…and dad would wake me up for the big surprise!
“Ordinary People over Raging [fu**ing] Bull???” That was my reaction to 1980’s surprise. I was 8-years old.
My love affair with Oscar and all-things movies was passed down by my father. The proof is typed on the birth certificates of his two sons. My brother’s the “Brett Maverick” cowboy and I’m the “come back Shane” gunslinger. HA! “Gunslinger? You look like Chandler Bing and your review of The Vow read like a coming-out party?” True, but here’s my defense…
If you’re ever in my father’s basement “theater”, check out the permanent ass-print in his reclining movie chair. He simply loves watching movies. He prefers classic westerns, but he’ll gladly take classless comedies, hokey horror, the Van-Damme worst action movies ever made, and any rom-com with an “I want the fairy tale” ending. He’ll acknowledge The Godfather is the greatest film of all-time…then he’ll recite Roadhouse verbatim. Yes, even the “I f**ked guys like you in prison” line.
But ass-prints and crap movies aside, dad still knows Oscar-worthy from Oscar-wannabe…and he lives for Oscar Sunday.
Today, my brother and I no longer watch the Oscars alongside dad and his movie chair. But our connection to dad and Oscar night remains stronger than ever. Brett’s an actor himself, and his SAG membership privileges (“For Your Consideration” DVDs) help to lessen my pre-Oscar panic. And we make sure dad gets out to see some of the Oscar front-runners on the big screen as well. Like in 2006, when we finally convinced him to go see Brokeback Mountain with us. Then we had to convince him to sit anywhere near us. “Are you nuts? People are gonna think I’m with a couple of……….”
“WTF??? Crash over Brokeback Mountain???” That was my reaction to 2006′s surprise. And I’m straight.
So this year, we’ve seen all the movies we needed to see….except for the one movie we couldn’t hear. We have our personal favorites (mine is Moneyball). The only thing we don’t have is hope for a big Oscar surprise. Seriously, you don’t need a crystal ball to predict The Artist, Clooney, Davis, Plummer, Spencer, and the French director. But I’m not complaining. I already got my crystal surprise.
“Holy shit! Billy Crystal is back as Oscar host!!!” That was my reaction to 2012′s surprise. Because I remember the last 8 times he hosted….and I remember last year’s hosts.
Last year, the beautiful and talented Anne Hathaway proved she had the smarts and personality to host an awards show. That awards show airs on Nickelodeon. Unfair? Okay, I know she was game, but her “aww-shucks, I’m not worthy” giddiness made me grit my teeth right back at her Mr. Ed chompers. Mean?
No, I’ll save mean for her comatose co-host James Franco. He tried to channel Jack Nicholson’s “too-cool-for-the-room” vibe, but he came off like a wannabe Jeff Spicoli. Here’s a thought: Maybe Franco survived 127 Hours between two rocks and played the perfect stoner in Pineapple Express because he has the personality of a fu**ing stone.
What I’m trying to say is Oscar Sunday belongs to Billy Crystal. Word of his return had me reminiscing about Oscars of old. Like the one-armed push-ups that inspired the “Jack Palance just bungee-jumped off the Hollywood sign” quip. Or the Hannibal Lecter “I’m having some members of the Academy for dinner” opening. It’s not just Crystal’s surprise openings and quick-wit, though, it’s his class (not crass, Mr. Gervais). Crystal has a healthy respect for the show, the room, and “that big terrible number that usually opens the Oscars.” Those are his words from 1990, and he’s turned that “big terrible number” into the number-one thing that we’re all guessing about this Oscar Eve. Will he go for the potentially hilarious silent-movie montage in honor of The Artist? Or better yet, will he drag Meg Ryan out of retirement (and her latest collagen treatment) to re-enact her “I’ll have what she’s having” deli orgasm scene…silently? A man can only dream.
Whatever Billy does, I’m sure it’ll surprise us, entertain us, and make it Crystal-clear to all of us why there’s a permanent ass-print in my dad’s movie chair. We simply love the movies.
Note to Brett:
When you get your first Oscar nom…be sure to score some Oscar tix for your cowboy brother and your Roadhouse-lovin’ dad. And make sure you call ahead. I heard The Kodak Theater has a strict policy against dad’s bringing their own movie chairs.