Whenever my wife wants to coerce me into doing something, she doesn’t threaten to cut me off sexually. She does much worse.
She threatens to stop cooking.
As a result of my acquiescing to her beef bourguignon blackmail, she drags me into the bedroom once a year to watch the almost-four-hour Oscar trek from Hollywoodland to Boredomland.
Not only don’t I give a flying Fig Newton which female star is wearing which conventional designer’s gown on the red carpet, or showing how much rumpskin can be bared, I couldn’t care less which male actor has new stubbly facial hair or silky tux — or a shiny new rug covering his otherwise shiny pate.
So I stretched out under the covers keeping myself awake by thinking not about Barbra Streisand poignantly singing “The Way We Were” for the hundred-thousandth time or Daniel Day Lewis’ articulate and witty acceptance speech as best actor but about the Academy Awards show even at its best being just a bland bowl of cherries jubilee.
And I squirmed at Kristin Chenoweth’s obnoxious, incessant chatter on the crimson runway, and cringed at Michelle Obama’s inappropriate, tasteless flipping open the best-flick envelope in front of a decked out military contingent that looked like it came straight from central casting.
This year, I actually had a favorite, Beasts of the Southern Wild, that I knew couldn’t possibly — and didn’t, despite a few raucous shouts and applause — beat out the “safe” choice, Argo, a tense, extremely well-directed but totally predictable thriller, for best picture.
Nor did the lead performer of the independent Beasts, nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, or its intrepid director, Benh Zeitlin, stand a chance against two other benign selections, perky Jennifer Lawrence and politically correct Ang Lee.
In case you missed it, the quasi-post-apocalyptic film about child survivor Hushpuppy in the Louisiana bayou is a complex, multi-layered film I adored but was unable to convince many of my closest friends was worth seeing.
Not all of the gold statuette-athon was horrible.
I was glad Quentin Tarantino won a screenwriting award for Django Unchained, which I found incredibly funny (despite the manifold cartoonish blood-gushing sequences and voluminous use of the n-word that some non-film buffs found repulsive without having seen the film).
Christoph Waltz’ unexpected victory for Django in the best supporting category award also pleased me.
And I was happy to see a tie occur in the sound editing race.
But one of my favorite films of the year, Quartet, didn’t make any a dent in Academy voters’ lists for best anything. Those balloters apparently share most critics viewpoint that sentimentality is bad, a sentiment I don’t share at all.
Since the Academy keeps pursuing younger demographics (witness the choice of Ted creator Seth MacFarlane as host), there was no surprise in it overlooking a film about nostalgic seniors on the brink of Alzheimer’s or death.
For me, it felt cleansing — and good — at that movie’s end when I cried, fully content that I’d frequently laughed and chuckled and smiled before that juncture.
I’d reveled, too, in the performance of Dame Maggie Smith, who embodies a broke but not broken retired opera singer relegated to a financially strapped retirement home for musicians.
After Jimmy Kimmel’s unfunny post-Oscar show ended with a disappointing sequel to his spoofy Movie Movie and Jamie Foxx singing nonsensical yet slightly salacious lyrics about sprinkling Channing on his Tatum, I was left with only one question: What can I do to convince my wife to substitute the Spirit Awards next year for the Oscars?
No, wait a minute. Didn’t that organization’s voters recently pick the sanitized, feelgood star-studded “indy” film Silver Linings Playbook as best picture of the year?