BEST FOREIGN WATCHING AWARD
February 25, 2013, the morning after The Academy Awards telecast LIVE from Hollywood.
This is not the first Academy Awards ceremony I’ve watched in my underwear.
It is the first time I had to set my alarm for 2:30 AM, hit the snooze button 3 times, force myself out of bed in the aforementioned underwear and quietly sneak out of my bedroom to go upstairs to watch the Academy Awards though.
Welcome to watching American Cultural Institutions on TV in Israel!
For the US Election results, my wife and the kids and I went over to a friend’s house at 5:30 AM to see the tally and (in my case at least) celebrate President Obama’s re-election.
For the Superbowl, I set my DVR, went to sleep and maintained an internet/information blackout (no pun intended) until I could see the exciting game to its dramatic conclusion (including a 34 minute blackout – that’s why I wrote that “no pun intended” comment). The only real sad part was that I didn’t get to see any of the vaunted Superbowl ads because the station here in Israel doesn’t care so much for the dreams of nerds and the sentimental relationships of Clydesdales.
The Golden Globes I also DVR’d, but, much like the serious prognosticators in Hollywood, I tried not to make a big deal out of them (although I still would have liked more Amy & Tina).
BUT for the Oscars, I couldn’t wait. Normally, living here in Israel, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to be pegged as an American. Usually, I can just open my mouth to speak broken Hebrnglish or my wear my XXL LEGO t-shirt and people have me eating apple pie, but last night I decided I was going to go above and beyond my image to keep an American tradition alive that has supported me culturally over lo these many years. I was going to watch the Oscars live!
I usually like to go to a party to watch the Oscars with a bunch of like-minded people ready to be sentimental and cynical all at the same time. Yes, it bugs me that they talk over the presenters or the speeches, but I do like having that group spirit and I’ve won my share of Oscar party pools before. One year my wife and I threw a party with food thematically tied to the nominated movies. A great idea, but maybe now not so great because I can’t remember what the foods were, but let’s just agree that they were incredibly wittily-conceived and leave it at that. This year I’m sure we would have made a Life of Pi Pie or some EscARGOt and people would have laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
Back to the underwear.
After rolling off my bed without waking Jodi, I went upstairs and did a quick look at the DVR to make sure it was recording the Red Carpet show (okay, okay, I don’t know why I cared about that really, but I’ll eventually fast forward through it). I was recording the shows of course, because even though I went to bed early at 9:30, I wouldn’t have bet on me actually waking up at 2:30, so I was covering my bases.
I made some microwave popcorn that we got out of a Purim basket yesterday, grabbed a Diet Coke, a blanket and went to get comfy in one of the faux-lazy-boys in our TV area.
By the way, I did have options - I had been invited over to a 3:30 AM watching party at friends’ house – another ex-pat, now living in Jerusalem – who were big movie enthusiasts, but I had cancelled earlier because I didn’t trust that I would get up or that my sinuses would stop attacking me long enough to be good company. I hope they had a good time.
I admit, I had a pretty okay time, although it was weird. Weird watching it at 3:30 AM alone. Weird watching it live which meant I also had to watch the commercials in Hebrew. Weird because this was the first year in who-knows-how-long that I hadn’t seen all the Best Picture nominees. And speaking of weird, there was Seth MacFarlane opening the show.
At first he was just doing some straight up, typical, mildly amusing inside-hollywood jokes. He seemed to be making fun of hosts, but without actually being funny about it. Then he brings down a screen for a very long bit with William Shatner in a StarTrek uniform (there’s a good chance that Shatner has a tailor on call 24/7 to let out that uniform as needed). That’s when MacFarlane opened it up to be the “edgy” guy that I think the producers thought they were hiring in order to secure that the 3.2 Million Family Guy regulars were for sure watching along with the 1 Billion people they estimated to be watching around the world.
Okay, let’s talk about that 1 Billion thing. My completely unscientific survey - which included posting a survey question on my facebook page asking Israelis if they were staying up/waking up to watch the Oscar telecast live - has led me to conclude that their statement, even if factually correct is greatly skewed. I believe that outside the 45 Million people who will watch the show in the US live, a good 98% of the rest of the 955 Million people are actually recording the show and watching it over the next couple of days while their kids are at school, or their wives are out working as a foreign correspondent. I considered myself in the exclusive 2% of people that cared about experiencing the highs or even potentially Rob Lowes live, so as to be “in on the conversation.” Listen, I don’t consider myself a hero for going to bed early and waking up on the middle of the night to watch a lot of beautiful people congratulate themselves, but you can think of me that way if you want.
So MacFarlane finally got edgy, that is of course if you consider gay men’s chorus song celebrating boobs “edgy” (no salute to side boob??)… and i think they thought that allowed him license later to do some mean-spirited-tinged and easy jokes (that Lincoln joke, really? Lincoln + Theater + Actors = Shooting jokes in a barrel) and MacFarlane possibly added about 20 minutes to the always-overlong show anyway, by laughing at his own jokes or calling out the audience for not laughing at his jokes or both.
Here are some of my takes on the 2013 Oscar telecast as forwarded and humbly viewed by your bleary-eyed, underwear’d, friend while sitting in a faux-lazy-boy in a dark room in Jerusalem, Israel:
• I didn’t see Life of Pi, but it looks beautiful and poetic and I have absolutely no idea what it’s about except there’s a tiger, an Indian boy and a lot of water. Can’t wait to see it though for its award winning direction, cinematography and visual effects.
• The big fashion winner of the evening was “Incredibly Long Blonde Man Hair!” (see sound effects editing winners)
• I noticed more dresses with long trains than usual, which sparked the same thought I’ve had for over 35 years – how do you go to the bathroom in that Jennifer Aniston??
• I also haven’t seen Django Unchained yet, which is kind of criminal for me, but I’m somehow glad it won. I also appreciate that at some point Quentin Tarantino possibly thought about tying his tie.
• I am still in line with everyone else who wants to be George Clooney when they grow-up.
• Daniel Day Lewis gave the funniest speech partly because you don’t expect Daniel Day Lewis to be that funny. He was great in Lincoln as Lincoln and he should get props just for making it to the theater (sorry, Seth MacFarlane wrote that one).
• Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful all by herself, but more articulate when she says words other people have written for her.
• Ann Hathaway has the widest mouth of any nominee since Mary Tyler Moore.
• I don’t want to be Hugh Jackman when I grow up because I would spend too much time singing and high-fiving myself for being me.
• Barbra without an extra ‘a’ ,was wonderful and I’m not just saying that because I am a Jew from Brooklyn.
• Salma Hayek looked so serious!
• Since he brought his son as his date, I’m sure Phil Seymour Hoffman is happy that they didn’t show the handjob scene from The Master for his nomination clip.
• There seemed to be a lot of relatives sitting up in the balcony this year.
• I hope everyone’s kids finally got to bed!
• Is it just me, or did you also think that more people had died this year? For some reason the memorium felt short. Special shout out to Jack Klugman, the most personally influential dead celebrity for me this year.
• The stage was beautiful but distracting. The ultra-shiny floor made me feel like everyone was handing off and accepting awards in a glittery pond.
• Dustin Hoffman and Charlize Theron. Whose idea was that?
• Ted presenting really classed up the affair. Please, someone, tell me that that was a contractual obligation that Seth made them sign. All that said, I’m still amazed how they fucking did that.
• I thought Argo was great – even more so because it was a true story that I hadn’t heard about before. It also made me realize that I can’t see enough of John Goodman. Ben’s speech at the end was very moving and genuine and seeing him up there with everyone else in the production reminded me just how tall that guy is.
• Fact that snuck up on me: Daniel Day Lewis is the only person to have won Best Actor three times.
• Another year with my dream unfilled. That dream is that during the show all the camera cutaways for the entire evening are of the same actor.
• New favorite name: Hawk Koch (and that camera hog Harvey Weinstein just had to be getting late back to his seat to ruin Hawk’s big moment)
• Follow-up: I had to look up that it was “Hawk” and not “Huck”
• Yeah, that closing song about losers, you didn’t need that.
Towards the end of the show – it was about 7 AM Israel time – my son came up and didn’t care so much if it was Argo or Lincoln. He asked to play with my iphone. As my parenting skills were distracted by the artistic tension, I let him do it. And that’s how I got to hear Ben Affleck’s heartfelt acceptance speech while the soundtrack to Power Rangers’ Samurai Warriors blared from the other faux-lazy-boy next to me.
Okay, I’m tired and now I have to go to a Purim carnival with kids, but, just for today I will pretend that I’m really going to the Governor’s Ball – with my dates, Karate Girl and Ninja Spiderman.
“…And lastly I’d like to thank my kids, Lev & Shayna – you can wake up now!”