On a typical Monday I try to mention and highlight some of the articles that were published the previous week. Last week, though, nothing was published. Like a lot of people, and I suspect like a lot of freelancers in general and writers more specifically, I judge myself based on my writing. A productive day writing means that I had a good day. I am what I create. I am my job. There’s a way in which I believe that this is a poisonous and negative mindset. This is not the standard by which we should judge our lives. This is not a standard that leads to good mental health. Thinking like this won’t make anyone - and won’t make me - happy. But I still think this way. I need to stay on top of my e-mails. I need to check in on social media. I need to pitch and apply and obsess. Even if I’m not being productive, not really, I need to be working. I need to keep moving. And that mindset is exhausting. More than exhausting, it’s toxic. Because I am more than the widgets I produce. I keep thinking about how when I was younger I worked many jobs which have many derogatory terms, but I worked customer service. I always thought that I was more than that job. I never let that job define me in my own mind. Of course customers thought that anyone who worked such a job was a braindead useless moron they could scream at, but as anyone who has worked such jobs know, those people exist, but we never let them define us. But now I let my job define me. It is perhaps the only thing that defines me. It would be flippant and inaccurate to say that I have nothing besides work in my life right now, but it does not feel untrue to say that. An so I consider the fact that last week nothing was published, that I was away and not working for much of that time, and there is an existential worry about this. Because what am I if I haven’t done anything? More to the point, I’m not happy with my life. I’m not happy in my life. And if I am both unable to change and unproductive, then what is the point? What am I living for?
The Green Book. Ugh. A white director who admits to inappropriate behavior in the past, a screenwriter who is a conspiracy mongering Islamophobe, a producer who sends obnoxious e-mails to people who write negative articles about the film, a story that the family of the African-American protagonist says is inaccurate and disrespectful. And looking at the stage when it won, and the almost all white cast and crew ...
I love Alfonso Cuaron. I was not rooting for him to win, but I have no problem with him winning. Also, two Best Director wins for him in less than a decade, for two very different films, which is something.
Rami Malek. It feels like it was only a few years ago he came out of nowhere to star in Mr. Robot and here he is, delivering an incredible performance that made that film and winning an Oscar. (Also, over the years Malik has made two films with Spike Lee, can we see these two Oscar winners team up on some amazing kickass new movie?)
I don’t know how it is that Glenn Close still doesn’t have an Oscar. I just don’t get it.
Olivia Colman though is amazing. And she gave a great speech. I keep thinking about all the things I’ve seen her in. On TV she was amazing in very different roles in a series of shows including Broadchurch, Flowers, Green Wing, The Night Manager, and Rev. On a show like Twenty Twelve which was light and honestly wasn’t that great, she had such presence and really stood out. On film there was The Lobster and Murder on the Orient Express recently, but she was amazing in Tyrannosaur. She’s taking over the lead in The Crown this year, so she may add an Emmy award this year to her mantle.
Mahershala Ali is the only good thing about Green Book. But I still would have given the Oscar to either Richard E. Grant or Sam Elliott.
Regina King! If Beale Street Could talk should have received more awards, but this is a good one. She’s had an amazing decade. On TV she went from Southland (where she played one of the best female cops in the history of television...prove me wrong!) to American Crime where she played three characters in each of the show’s three seasons to The Leftovers to Seven Seconds. Of course she was also the voices of Huey and Riley in The Boondocks. She was on 227 way back when. There was Boyz n the Hood and Poetic Justice and Higher Learning. There was Friday and Down to Earth and Jerry Maguire.
I wanted Never Look Away to win Best Foreign Language film. I know that Roma won because it wasn’t going to win Best Picture, but I think Never Look Away is just a mindblowingly amazing work.
I also wanted Never Look Away to win Best Cinematography for Caleb Deschanel. (Yes, Zooey’s dad). He’s never won an Oscar. This is the man who shot The Black Stallion and Being There, The Right Stuff and The Natural, Fly Away Home and Ask the Dust, and so many others. One of the best cinematographers alive today.
Bao winning best animated short is so well deserved. There are feature length films that don’t have that level of artistry and emotion.
Ruth E. Carter definitely deserved to win for Black Panther. Long overdue!
Glad that BlacKkKlansman won for best adapted screenplay, which means that Spike Lee now has an Oscar. And he managed to be excited about winning, and also give a speech that was serious and solemn and heartfelt. His ability to do both, says a lot about why I continue to love Spike even if every film doesn’t always succeed.
The Green Book won for best original screenplay and I just the lack words to describe my feelings about this. I find it hateful for many reasons, including the fact that Paul Schrader was nominated for an Oscar for the very first time this year for writing First Reformed.
Schrader has won a lot of awards over the years but was never previously even nominated for an Oscar. This is the man who wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, who adapted The Last Temptation of Christ and The Mosquito Coast. He made films like Blue Collar and Hardcore, Mishima and Affliction, American Gigolo and Cat People. And First Reformed isn’t simply an accident that this was his first nomination, but in a very long and acclaimed career, First Reformed is arguably his best work. And instead people chose...