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

Actor Geoffrey Rush turns 70

Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winner

ShineAlthough I’ve seen or heard the actor Geoffrey Rush in a number of movies, I always associate him with one. And no, it’s not Pirates of the Caribbean.

It’s Shine, from 1996. IMDB notes: “Pianist David Helfgott, driven by his father and teachers, has a breakdown. Years later he returns to the piano, to popular if not critical acclaim.”

Rush won the Oscar for Best Actor. The film received several other nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Dramatic Score. I bought the CD of the score; it is recommended.

Sometimes, it’s one movie that propels a performer from a working professional to someone who people can recognize by name. But I know almost nothing about the man’s life, other than he’s from Australia.

Again, from IMDB: He was born “in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, to Merle (Bischof), a department store sales assistant, and Roy Baden Rush, an accountant for the Royal Australian Air Force. His mother was of German descent and his father had English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. He was raised in Brisbane, Queensland after his parents split up…”

“He performed in theater for a number of years… Film-goers finally began taking notice of Geoffrey after his performance in Children of the Revolution (1996).

“This led to THE role of a lifetime as the highly dysfunctional piano prodigy David Helfgott in Shine (1996). Rush’s astonishing tour-de-force performance won him every conceivable award imaginable, including the Oscar, Golden Globe, British Film Award, and Australian Film Institute Award.”


“Shine not only put Rush on the international film map but atypically on the Hollywood ‘A’ list as well. His rather homely mug…” Ouch. OK, he’s certainly not classically handsome, but…

His “completely charming, confident and captivating demeanor” allowed him to “more easily dissolve into a number of transfixing historical portrayals, notably his Walsingham in Elizabeth (1998) and Leon Trotsky in Frida (2002),” both of which I saw.

I’ve also appreciated his work in Shakespeare in Love (1998), for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; Lantana (2001), a murder mystery; Finding Nemo (2003), voicing Nigel the seagull; and The King’s Speech (2010) as Lionel Logue.

“Rush’s intermittent returns to the stage have included productions of Marat-Sade, Uncle Vanya, Oleanna, Hamlet, and The Small Poppies. In 2009 he made his  Broadway debut in Exit the King,” written by Eugene Ionesco, co-starring Susan Sarandon, and co-adapted by Rush. He got a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance.

On television, he played Peter Sellers in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) on HBO, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award, meaning he’s won the acting Triple Crown.

“His marriage (since 1988) to Aussie classical actress Jane Menelaus produced daughter Angelica (1992) and son James (1995). Menelaus, who has also performed with the State Theatre of South Australia, has co-starred on stage with Rush… She also had featured roles in a few of his films, including Quills (2000) and The Eye of the Storm (2011).”

Geoffrey Rush is a successful, talented actor, who largely travels below the radar of a lot of people.

The rest of the Oscar-nominated shorts

Back in April, I wrote about the Oscar-nominated shorts I had seen to date. I’ve since seen all of the rest of them. I’ll tell you how at the end.

Short Film (Live Action)

The Present (Palestine, 24 minutes), IMDB: “On his wedding anniversary, Yusef (Saleh Bakri) and his young daughter set out in the West Bank to buy his wife a gift. Between soldiers, segregated roads, and checkpoints, how easy would it be to go shopping?”

Not easily at all, as it turns out. One can’t but help think the guys at the checkpoint weren’t so much protecting as being schmucks. But it does have a nice ending.

Feeling Through (USA, 18 minutes). IMDB: “A late-night encounter on a New York City street leads to a profound connection between a teen-in-need (Steven Prescod) and a DeafBlind man (Robert Tarango).” Touching and effective. The only one of these I saw before.

Two Distant Strangers (USA, 32 minutes). IMDB: “A man trying to get home to his dog gets stuck in a time loop that forces him to relive a deadly run-in with a cop.” OK, it’s a young black man and a white cop. A warped Groundhog Day. Unsubtle but with a thought-provoking impact. The Oscar winner, and rightly so.

Ayn Levana (White Eye) (Israel, 20 minutes). IMDB: “A man finds his stolen bicycle, which now belongs to a stranger. While attempting to retrieve it, he struggles to remain human.” Having had bicycles stolen from me, I could definitely relate. Does the new owner need it more than the original owner? Issues of immigration are also involved. A good film.

The Letter Room (USA, 33 minutes) IMDB: “When a corrections officer (Oscar Issac) is transferred to the letter room, he soon finds himself enmeshed in a prisoner’s deeply private life.” What would you do in the same circumstances? Especially since his life is pretty much his job? Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron in the last Star Wars trilogy, is very effective here.

Animated Films

Burrow (USA, 6 minutes). IMDB: “A young rabbit tries to build the burrow of her dreams, becoming embarrassed each time she accidentally digs into a neighbor’s home.” Pleasant, light fare.

Genius Loci (France, 16 minutes). IMDB: “One night, Reine, a young loner, sees the urban chaos as a mystical oneness that seems alive, like some sort of guide.” A surrealistic…something. I’ll admit I don’t really get it. Something with her sister and a baby and a muse.

Opera (South Korea/USA, 9 minutes) IMDB: “Our society and history, which is filled with beauty and absurdity.” That doesn’t tell you diddly. From Indiewire: A Provocative Animated Short Confronts Never-Ending Polarization. “It consists of a giant pyramid with cyclical activities.” It’s almost hypnotic.

If Anything Happens I Love You (USA, 13 minutes). IMDB: “In the aftermath of tragedy, two grieving parents journey through an emotional void as they mourn the loss of a child.” And without dialogue, but great use of shadows, you can feel the sense of disconnectedness this couple is experiencing, long before you know why. It’s quite extraordinary and deserving of the Oscar.

Yes-People/Já-Fólkið (Iceland, 8 minutes).  IMDB: “One morning an eclectic mix of people face the everyday battle – such as work, school, and dish-washing. As the day progresses, their relationships are tested and ultimately their capacity to cope.” It’s a story about the mundane, which can be rather interesting, but this wasn’t, at least for me.

If Anything Happens I Love You

Highly commended

The animation nominations run less than an hour, so the packagers usually throw in a few more to create a 90-minute program.

Kapaemahu (USA, 9 minutes) IMDB: “Kapaemahu reveals the healing power of four mysterious stones on Waikiki Beach – and the legendary dual male and female spirits within them.” It was very affecting, telling a story I did not know. You can see it here.

The Snail and the Whale (UK, 27 minutes) IMDB: “A tiny snail goes on an amazing journey by hitching a ride on the tail of a huge humpback whale. Based on the picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.”  It’s a sweet story, with some star power, with the late Diana Rigg as the narrator and Sally Hawkins as the snail.

To: Gerard (USA). IMDB: “A sprightly elderly man brightens the day of a little girl through magic.” A guy from Dreamwork produced this, and it’s very good.

I suppose I would have replaced Burrow, Yes-People, and possibly Genius Loci with these three.


I reviewed all of these – Do Not Split (USA/Norway), Hunger Ward (USA), the winning Colette (USA), A Concerto Is A Conversation (USA), except one.

A Love Song For Latasha (USA, 19 minutes.)  IMDB: “The injustice surrounding the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins at a South Central Los Angeles store became a flashpoint for the city’s 1992 civil uprising.

As one critic noted, “The decision to embrace poetic abstract over reenactment is an easy one to make. And that’s exactly what Sophia Nahli Allison does.” It may be a bit confusing for some but it’s worthwhile.

I’d say either Latasha or Collette was the best film.

My local Landmark Theatre, Spectrum 8 offered packages to see one, two, or all three packages. Obviously, I picked the latter, for a total of $30, not much more than the price of three in-person tickets. I ordered them in mid-April and had until mid-May to start watching them. Once I started, in the first week in May, I had until the first week in June to see them all.

The less-than-satisfactory Oscar post

I saw all the Best Supporting Actor and Original Screenplay noms!

EmmaYeah, it’s been a less-than-satisfactory Oscar viewing season for me. I haven’t seen many of the nominees, certainly in comparison with most years. Although, seeing THREE Best Picture nominees in the last three days, which I haven’t yet reviewed, has made the list a bit more complete.

So this is a post for this moment, and I’m hoping to see the others eventually. The ! means I saw it. I’ll link to my reviews the first time.

! The Father – I just saw this; well-acted, of course, depressing and a little stagey
! Judas and the Black Messiah – I saw this yesterday; the best in my opinion.
Mank – this played at the newly-reopened Spectrum Theatre, but I didn’t catch it.
! Minari 
! Nomadland. I’m aware of the controversy over how the movie doesn’t fully address the working conditions at Amazon, which the book apparently does.
! Promising Young Woman – I just saw, and I liked it a lot
! Sound of Metal – this is the movie I saw the earliest of the nominees, the only one before the noms were announced. It’s very good.
! The Trial of the Chicago Seven. Good film.

! Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm 
Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy – she’s overdue, but this movie reviewed terribly
! Olivia Colman, The Father. She’s very strong in a demanding role.
Amanda Seyfried, Mank
! Youn Yuh-Jung, Minari – my favorite

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE – all great performances
But it is absurd that the two leads of Judas are both up for best supporting. I blame the studio.
! Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
! Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
! Leslie Odom Jr., One Night in Miami
! Paul Raci, Sound of Metal – probably my #2 pick
! Lakeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah, narrowly my #1 pick

Another Round – Denmark. A good film but this is the only one I saw in the category.
Better Days – Hong Kong
Collective – Romania
The Man Who Sold His Skin – Tunisia
Qu Vadis, Aida? – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Crip Camp
The Mole Agent
My Octopus Teacher
! Time 

! Fight For You from Judas and the Black Messiah
! Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7
Husavik from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
lo Sì (Seen) from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)
! Speak Now from One Night in Miami – my rooting interest

Screenplays and other things

Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
! Wolfwalkers 

! Borat Subsequent MovieFilm
! The Father
! Nomadland
! One Night in Miami – my favorite of the four
The White Tiger – there’s a 2021 movie called White Tiger about a tank. That isn’t this movie.

! Judas and the Black Messiah – my #1 pick
! Minari
! Promising Young Woman – my #2 pick
! Sound of Metal
! The Trial of the Chicago 7

! Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal – excellent
Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – like a lot of others, I’d be thrilled if he wins posthumously
! Anthony Hopkins, The Father – great, as usual
Gary Oldman, Mank
! Steven Yeun, Minari

Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – I always root for her
! Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday – she is WAY better than the movie; review soon
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman
! Frances McDormand, Nomadland
! Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman – possibly my favorite

! Thomas Vinterberg, Another Round
David Fincher, Mank
! Lee Isaac Chung, Minari
! Chloe Zhao, Nomadland
! Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman. My pick.

The techie awards

! The Father
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
News of the World

! Sean Bobbitt, Judas and the Black Messiah
Erik Messerschmidt, Mank
Dariusz Wolski, News of the World
! Joshua James Richards, Nomadland – I can imagine this winning
! Phedon Papamichael, The Trial of the Chicago 7

! Emma – hmm. I bought this DVD for my wife and we watched it some months ago, but I never reviewed it. It was pleasant enough, not great. But the costumes WERE fabulous.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

News of the World
! Sound of Metal – the sound, and lack of, is pivotal here, and very effective

Da 5 Bloods
! Minari
News of the World

VISUAL EFFECTS – I’ve seen none
Love and Monsters
The Midnight Sky
The One and Only Ivan

! The Father
! Nomadland – will probably win
! Promising Young Woman
! Sound of Metal – rooting interest
! The Trial of the Chicago 7 – secondary rooting interest

! Emma
Hillbilly Elegy
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


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