Watching the Oscars and the Grammys

movies and music

oscars and the grammysBecause of scheduling dictated in part by COVID, the Oscars and the Grammys were on successive weekends. I watched them both in 30-minute chunks while riding the stationary bicycle. So not in real time; I’m too busy for that.

There was a point in the mid-nineties when I would listen to the radio at 8:37 a.m./5:37 a.m. Pacific Time, to hear the announcement of the Oscar nominations in the major categories. I’d then scribble them down frantically and quite illegibly. Of course, in a few years, I discovered I could find them on the Internet by 9 a.m. But it was exhilarating at the time.

Last century, I usually DID watch the Oscars live to the very end, or until I got too tired. I would record the program on my DVD or DVR, get up in the morning, and view it, making sure not to see/hear the news. If I don’t know the outcome, it’s new to me!

After I got to The Slap, about which everyone has an opinion, the show rolled on until Will Smith’s acceptance speech for Best Actor. And it took me two days to actually watch it. To my surprise, I was REALLY angry about this rambling half-apology – no playing-off music there.

Yay, CODA,  3 for 3!


I’ve decided to watch the Grammys the last two years, in part as an archeological dig. Hey, I’ve at least I’ve HEARD OF the nominees for Record, Album, and Song of the Year. OK, I don’t know Daniel Caesar or Giveon, who were featured on Justin Bieber’s track Peaches, the live performance of which was the most bleeped of the show.

I know who Anderson Paak is because he appeared as a performer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in December 2018; yes, I looked it up. He’s now part of Silk Sonic with Bruno Mars. Mars’ song with Mick Ronson, Uptown Funk, was so ubiquitous in 2015 that even I had heard it quite often.

H.E.R. I know because she was on that Grammy tribute to Prince in 2020, and she’s a fine guitarist.

I actually own THREE of the Album of the Year nominees. The winner, We Are, is the second album by Jon Batiste that I own. The TV special of Tony Bennett’s 95th birthday concert with lady Gaga I found touching, so I got it . The other – don’t laugh – is Sour by Olivia Rodrigo, which I pretty much blame on my daughter playing it incessantly.

For Best New Artist, Olivia Rodrigo was the winner. I didn’t know Arooj Aftab, Jimmie Allen, Baby Keem, Arlo Parks, or Saweetie. FINNEAS is Billie Eilish’s brother and sometimes collaborator. Hasn’t Glass Animals been around for half a decade or more?

As for Japanese Breakfast, I actually heard of the book Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner on The Daily Show and CBS Sunday Morning. Oh, she has a band too?

Every year, Arthur links to these end-of-year video compilations. I asked him, which one is The Kid LAROI? So he wrote a post about him.

There are other artists I did recognize in some categories, such as The Black Pumas (saw on Sam Bee’s show). But most of the nominees I knew were relative dinosaurs like Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney. 


My, I HATED both of In Memorium segments because I couldn’t always read the names, as the cameras panned out to show the performers. It was particularly egregious at the Oscars. I liked the Sondheim medley at the Grammys, though.

WRGB, Channel 6 in Schenectady, the CBS affiliate, inserted a package of local commercials during the Grammy broadcast. Carrie Underwood was already singing. This is not the first time WRGB has muffed things like this.

I find myself more drawn to music than the movies these days. In no small part, it’s because movies, when I see them on TV or a computer, don’t seem… theatrical.

By contrast, what Batiste said in his acceptance speech is true. “It’s like a song or an album is made and it’s almost like it has a radar to find the person when they need it the most.”

I got that vibe as the Brothers Osborne closed out the Grammys with Dead Man’s Curve, as members of the audience, regardless of their musical genre were clearly grooving to the tune.

Freedom  – Jon Batiste
Leave The Door Open – Silk Sonic
I Get A Kick Out Of You – Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

I may try this again next year.

An off-year for the Oscars and me

see The Queen Of Basketball and The Long Goodbye

Historically, 1) I would see lots of movies in the theater throughout the year, and 2) I’d try to see whatever movies I’d missed after the Oscars were announced. This year, though, is an off-year for the Oscars and me.

For one thing, I saw far fewer movies in an actual cinema, always my preferred venue. For another, I’d make dates with my wife to watch some films on a streaming service, but the plans would fall through. I DID see a few online by myself, but I just didn’t have the mojo for doing that too often.

What DID I see that were nominated? I linked to my reviews in the BEST PICTURE category, or elsewhere if not nominated there.

JAVIER BARDEM in Being the Ricardos, which I watched a day ago and requires a full review
TROY KOTSUR in CODA. Based on all of the other awards, I’d think Kotsur is a near lock, which is fine by me.
J.K. SIMMONS in Being the Ricardos

PENÉLOPE CRUZ in Parallel Mothers
ARIANA DEBOSE in West Side Story                                                                            JUDI DENCH in Belfast. I was pulling for Caitríona Balfe, who played the mom in Belfast, but she wasn’t nominated

FLEE – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie

WEST SIDE STORY – Janusz Kaminski
WEST SIDE STORY – Paul Tazewell


BELFAST – Kenneth Branagh
DRIVE MY CAR – Ryusuke Hamaguchi
LICORICE PIZZA -Paul Thomas Anderson
WEST SIDE STORY – Steven Spielberg
I saw all except Jane Campion for THE POWER OF THE DOG. Of the four, I’d pick Branagh.

ATTICA – Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry. Just saw this. Very thorough but greatly unsettling.
FLEE – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie. Has there been an animated film nominated as a doc feature? Powerful. More soon.
SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) – Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent, and David Dinerstein, which was splendid

THE QUEEN OF BASKETBALL – Ben Proudfoot. You can watch it at this link. I didn’t write about this because I expected to see the others in this category. The IMDB description: “an electrifying portrait of Lucy Harris, who scored the first basket in women’s Olympic history and was the first and only woman officially drafted into the N.B.A. Harris has remained largely unknown – until now.” I found it quite informative and touching. Also sad, since Lucy recently died.


THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD (Norway) – just saw this; worthwhile. More in days to come.


PARALLEL MOTHERS -Alberto Iglesias
DOWN TO JOY from Belfast; Music and Lyric by Van Morrison.
I’m rooting for DOS ORUGUITAS from Encanto; Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

The big category

BELFAST – Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, Producers
CODA – Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi, and Patrick Wachsberger, Producers
DRIVE MY CAR – Teruhisa Yamamoto, Producer
LICORICE PIZZA – Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, Producers
WEST SIDE STORY – Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
Not having seen DON’T LOOK UP, DUNE, KING RICHARD, NIGHTMARE ALLEY, or THE POWER OF THE DOG, I’d pick CODA, though BELFAST would be a fine choice.

WEST SIDE STORY – Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo

THE LONG GOODBYE – Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed A powerful film that you can watch here or here

BELFAST -Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather, and Niv Adiri
WEST SIDE STORY – Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson, and Shawn Murphy

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME – Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick

CODA -Screenplay by Siân Heder
DRIVE MY CAR – Screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
BELFAST -Written by Kenneth Branagh
LICORICE PIZZA – Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD – Written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier. My favorite of the three.

It’s likely that I’ll get a short-term subscription to Netflix and see tick, tick…BOOM!, THE POWER OF THE DOG, and THE LOST DAUGHTER. Maybe catch some other films somehow.

The Hollywood Reporter: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

Movie review: CODA [child of deaf adults]


CodaMy wife and I watched the movie CODA on Apple+ late last month, just before it won the Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding cast in a motion picture. We enjoyed it a lot.

It occurred to me that the framework of the story was fairly conventional, but that it worked exceedingly well. Part of it is the specificity of these particular characters. Another is the strong performances by the actors. But a big chunk of it is that we really hadn’t seen this narrative shown.

Ruby (Emilia Jones) is the only hearing member of a deaf family. CODA means child of deaf adults. She’s trying to fit in at school, though she’s taken some grief because of the idiosyncrasies of her family. In particular, her father Frank (SAG award winner Troy Kotsur) “speaks” his mind, as it were. Among other things, he adores his wife Jackie (Marlee Matlin).

Frank, and Ruby’s older brother Leo (Daniel Durant), work on the family’s struggling fishing boat, and Ruby helps out before school. But when she joins her high school choir, she finds her time conflicted. This is especially the case as her exacting choirmaster Bernardo Villalobos (Eugenio Derbez) is trying to mentor her so that she can ao apply to a prestigious music school. And she likes hanging out with her duet partner Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo).

But how can she even about going when her family needs her? I “believed” this collective. The parents who want to hold onto their daughter but the brother may have a different need in the family dynamic. Miles doesn’t always do the right thing.

Not unlike the immigrant story

My wife noted that it is often the case that some of her English as a New Language students serve as interpreters for their immigrant parents. It turns the usual family dynamics on its head. So too with the story in CODA.

And one interesting element of the film is the David v. Goliath economic story, which all of the fishermen were subject to.

At the end of the credits were the names of the actors voicing the dubbed versions of the film into French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, Castilian, Chinese (I think), and some Cyrillic language.

The reviews were largely positive (95% by the critics, 93% by the audiences).

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