Let’s talk about the Oscars (but not about that)

Lost in the online storm? The movies and artists who won.

Brad Keefe
Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is joined by Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein as he accepts the award for best documentary feature for "Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)".

We need to talk about the Oscars. No, not about that.

If you want to talk about that, please see, well, the entire rest of the internet. This week has felt like drowning in a sea of takes, and the last thing the world needs is another one, especially from a white dude.

No, I want to talk about everything but that, specifically the reason I watch the Oscars, which is to see which films and artists are honored.

It’s certainly not a word that has come up in the discussion of the night, but the actual awards themselves? They were actually really predictable.

There were no major upsets if you followed the prognosticators and tendencies of how the Academy votes. At the annual Oscar viewing party I attend, my predictions nearly hit perfect, minus just a couple I knew were almost a coin-toss.

It was, I suppose, a bit surprising to see the tide turn against “The Power of the Dog,” which had 12 nominations and only one win (Jane Campion for Best Director). It was certainly a disappointment for Netflix, which pushed it as their prime awards bait.

Still, I couldn’t stop smiling when “CODA” was named Best Picture. It was far from a surprise, but still interesting to see how that type of crowd-pleaser (still quite underseen as it lives on Apple TV) overtook “Dog,” easily a more traditional type of movie the Academy loves.

More serious critics knocked “CODA” for being formulaic, and for pulling at the heartstrings with big, sweeping, emotional moments while providing lighter laughs and levity. What is wrong with any of that? That’s just good moviemaking.

Most of all, “CODA” deserves praise for depicting its deaf characters as real people, honestly showing their challenges without making them objects of pity. It’s a movie overflowing with empathy, not sympathy.

If you don’t have Apple TV, I highly suggest you make plans to see it during a weekend engagement at the Drexel Theatre, where it’s playing today (Friday, April 1) through Sunday.

The most expected “CODA” win (and one of the night’s best moments) was Troy Kotsur’s Best Supporting Actor win and speech. It’s one we’d be talking about more if it weren’t for that.

In the Supporting Actress category, we had another runaway favorite who was also an historic pick in Ariana DeBose of “West Side Story,” who became the first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar.

Of all those who had what should have been a special moment diminished, it was especially tough for Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and his “Summer of Soul” team, even though it was the overwhelming favorite for Best Documentary (and deservedly).

Another expected and deserved win was Jessica Chastain’s performance in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” an actually thoughtful take that could have turned into a caricature. And it was another highlight speech.

Still, there were few surprises on the list of winners. “Dune” sweeping the technical categories? Maybe only a surprise in how completely it dominated them. “Encanto” for Animated Feature? That was a given even if the revamped “We Don’t Talk About Bruno" — featuring Megan Thee Stallion and also playing after many kids’ bedtimes — was unexpected.

In fact, the only true surprises were how embarrassingly bad the introduction of honoring films via online votes went. Zack Snyder still has an army of online trolls, I guess.

While the Oscars aren’t ready to follow this year’s Golden Globes “this meeting could have been an email” press release approach, it’s clear that chasing a dwindling TV audience at the expense of focusing on movies and moviemaking is the wrong path.

So, maybe log off the internet this weekend and watch a movie instead.